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Is it Illegal to Eat and Drive in Georgia?

Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous and can cause severe injuries on the roadways of Georgia. When most people think of distracted driving in this state, they think of somebody texting or talking on their phone. However, distracted driving behavior has been around long before we all became so dependent on our phones.

Eating while driving is incredibly distracting, and it is not uncommon for a car accident to be caused by somebody holding onto a cheeseburger while trying to change lanes to avoid the vehicle in front of them. Here, we want to discuss the steps that Georgia has taken to decrease the number of distracted driving accidents and deaths on state roadways. Importantly, we want you to know whether or not it is illegal to eat and drive while operating a vehicle in Georgia.

Does Georgia Have Laws Against Distracted Driving?

When we turn to Georgia Code Section 40-6-241, we can see that the law says that a driver “… shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver…”

Yes, this is a very broad language, which means that it can be used to justify writing a distracted driving citation to a person for just about any offense they commit behind the wheel. This does include eating and drinking while driving a vehicle in Georgia. In fact, police in Georgia have indeed charged drivers with distracted driving for eating behind the wheel, and they justify doing so by saying that the person was a danger to others around them.

While you may not think that taking a sip of your latte or biting down on your chicken sandwich presents as much risk as staring at your phone screen, the reality is that any behavior that takes your eyes off the roadway can lead to an accident.

Georgia specifically discusses three main types of distracted driving:

  • Manual distractions that lead to a person taking their hands off the wheel
  • Visual distractions that include a person looking away from the road
  • Cognitive distractions that draw a person’s attention away from driving

During the latest reporting year across the state, police officers secured nearly 62,000 total distracted driving convictions. While most of these convictions revolved around operating wireless devices inside the vehicle, many of them were written under the part of the law that allows officers to write distracted driving tickets for “failure to exercise due care.” This specific statute can most certainly be used to justify writing a ticket for eating while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

In Georgia, the fines for distracted driving are $50 plus one point against the driver’s license for their first offense. A second offense will increase the fine to $100 and two points against the license. Any third or subsequent offense will result in a fine of $150 and three points against the license.

Distracted Driving Crashes Lead to Serious Injuries

There can be no doubt that distracted driving incidents are incredibly dangerous. Often, accidents caused by distracted driving happen at higher speeds and before a driver has a chance to even hit their brakes. It is not uncommon for these incidents to lead to broken or dislocated bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage or bleeding, severe lacerations, and more.