Drinking a non-alcoholic beverage while driving

You are at risk being hit with hefty penalties if they take their eyes off the road to have a drink when driving.  

While it's not illegal to have a non-alcoholic beverage when driving, drivers can be hit with a careless driving charge if it causes them to be distracted.  However, it is illegal to pay for a McDonald’s drive-thru with your mobile phone.


If you take your attention off the road to have a refreshment, police officers can deem you were "driving without due care and attention".

Motorists can also find themselves in trouble if they're spotted eating behind the wheel.

Driving without due care and attention, or careless driving, carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and up to three penalty points on your licence.

But in more serious cases where someone has been injured, you could face an unlimited fine, up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban - although for the majority of motorists, the fine won't exceed £5,000.

An Australian man was recently fined $173 (£94) for drinking water behind the wheel on a 39-degree day.

Another Aussie was threatened with a $500 (£256) fine and three penalty points on her licence because she was drinking a coffee when driving.

While officers are more likely to give a warning than a fine, it is essential to keep your concentration on other road users.

A study by the University of Leeds found motorists who ate while driving were 44 per cent slower than usual and if you need a drink or have something to eat, make sure to do it when you've completely stopped or pulled over.

A reckless Brit was recently captured eating a bowl of cereal at wheel in Manchester. The video shows a man has no hands on the wheel, with one hand grasping a bowl and the other shovelling spoonfuls of breakfast into his mouth.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: "Eating at the wheel is just another classic example of multi-tasking that can take your attention away from safe driving."   Obvious cases such as juggling hot drinks or a sandwich can be easily spotted by traffic police who can issue an on the spot ticket for careless driving.

About the Author Tony