PULLMAN, Wash. – A viral picture of a woman drinking her coffee from an extra-long straw has been making the rounds on the internet, but the reality is Washington’s new distracted driving law does not prevent you from drinking (non-alcoholic beverages) and driving behind the wheel.
Pullman Police Department took to Facebook on Tuesday to clarify.
“The law does not prohibit drivers from enjoying a quick bite or cold (non-alcoholic) beverage behind the wheel. Rather, it confirms that a driver can be pulled over for exhibiting poor driving (drifting in and out of lanes, running red lights, speeding, etc.),” the department wrote in a status. “In cases where the officer has reason to believe that the driving problem was the caused by a distraction (such as eating that greasy cheeseburger, turning up your favorite jam, or admiring that perfect cup of coffee), the driver may receive a hefty fine.”
Drinking and eating are not primary offenses. The only way you would get fined for it would be if you were breaking the law while eating/drinking at the same time.
You are also allowed to use hands-free devices like your Bluetooth when you’re driving. You are also allowed to use your GPS while driving, just type in the address before you go. You are allowed to use one finger to trigger your phone’s voice activated assistant, but make sure you set your phone down.
You’re not supposed to be holding your phone in your hand while you drive, even at a stoplight.
“It says you can’t be distracted by your eating. Now most of us don’t have to think to eat. If you do have to think to eat, you should pull over and then continue driving,” said Washington State Patrol trooper Jeff Sevigney on Monday. Law enforcement has said their main concern is electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets, not iced coffee.
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