clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Drinking Coffee While Driving May Soon Be Outlawed in New Jersey

Is this Chris Christie's doing?

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.


A recently proposed law in New Jersey could further complicate many drivers' morning commutes. The new anti-distracted driving bill would ban motorists from multitasking behind the wheel, reports USA Today — and that would include drinking coffee.

The use of handheld cell phones or texting while driving are both already prohibited under New Jersey law, but the bill would take things further by banning "any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway." That would presumably include not only sipping a latte but also eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, putting on makeup, watching a movie, or any of the many other bizarre tasks people have been known to perform while driving.

The penalties could be stiff, USA Today explains, with drivers being fined "between $200 and $400 for the first offense, $400 to $600 for the second and $600 to $800 for the third, as well as a 90-day license suspension and points on the license."

While some say such a law would be extremely difficult to enforce, perhaps it's more about the intention behind it: "The more widespread the message of eliminating distractions becomes, the more likely it is to be ingrained in everyday behavior, similar to seat belt usage," a AAA spokesperson tells Distracted driving reportedly played a role in more than 3,000 fatal crashes in New Jersey in 2014.

New Jersey isn't the only state to specifically target coffee drinkers behind the wheel: Last year a driver was pulled over after a cop saw her taking a sip of coffee from a to-go coffee up. Earlier this month, officers in Virginia staged a stunt in which they pulled drivers over to give them ice cream cones on especially hot days.

If New Jersey's bill makes it into law morning commuters may need to get up just a little bit earlier to ensure they're fully caffeinated before they get behind the wheel.