Is it illegal to eat and drink while driving?

MOTORISTS can easily find themselves hungry or thirsty while on the road.

But is it allowed to eat and drink while driving?

Is it illegal to eat while driving?

No – it's not illegal to eat while driving and there's no specific law against it.

However, if you get distracted while snacking behind the wheel and are not in proper control of your vehicle as a result, the police may prosecute you for careless driving.

It's an offence that currently carries a fines of £100 and three penalty points.

And in more serious cases, or those that are contested in court, the charge can attract a maximum £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban.

Under rule 148 of the Highway Code it says that “Safe driving and riding needs concentration. Avoid distractions when driving or riding such as eating and drinking.”

Police have warned that even a short lapse in concentration can have serious consequences for all road users.

A 2012 study by the University of Leeds also suggests that the reaction times of motorists who were eating were up to 44 percent slower than usual.

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Is it illegal to drink while driving?

Just like eating behind the wheel, having soft drinks while you’re driving is not illegal, but it could carry the same careless driving penalty if you’re distracted.

If you lose control of the vehicle and drinking has been considered a contributing factor, you may be prosecuted and could risk paying a fine of £100 as well as three penalty points.

However, in some situations, it can be also be dangerous not to have any drink in the car as it can lead to dehydration.

Scientists at Loughborough University found that driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink-driving as it can cause a loss of focus and lead to drowsiness and slower reaction times.

Drink driving, on the other hand, is a criminal offence that can carry severe penalties.

We've also explained what the fine is for drink driving in the UK and what the guidelines say about the drink drive limit.

Ten things YOU should know as a car owner

  • When is your MOT due? Find out here
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  • How many units can you drink and drive?
  • What do dashboard warning lights mean?
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  • Can you be fined for breaking the highway code?
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