You've done it and seen it done. People driving and drinking ... coffee. Doesn't seem like a crime, right? But it could be distracted driving, a violation of traffic rules that could get you ticketed in Minnesota.
On Monday morning, Lindsey Krieger was pulled over for sipping java while driving on I-94 in St. Paul. She told Fox 9 News, "I was completely dumbfounded. I thought it was a joke!"
A Case of the Mondays
It was a rough start to Krieger's week. An officer tailed her as she merged onto the freeway, lights signaling she was wanted. Krieger discovered the reason after a brief interrogation.
The officer asked several times if Krieger knew why the stop occurred before the big reveal. "She was like, 'Do you know what you were doing wrong? Do you know why you were pulled over?' I said, 'no I have no idea what you're talking about.' And finally after asking me a few more times she says, 'Drinking coffee. It's against the law to drink coffee while you're driving.'"
Ultimately, the java was not noted on the ticket Krieger received. She got off with a warning about the coffee and a citation for failure to wear a seat belt. Krieger plans to fight the ticket and says she only took off her seat belt after she was pulled over.
St. Paul Police Speak Up
Sergeant Mike Ernster of St. Paul Police Department wouldn't comment on the case but stood behind the officer. "Inattentive driving relates to anything that takes your attention away from those obligations of every driver, which is to pay attention," he said.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
While Krieger's story seems absurd and perhaps not the best use of St. Paul police resources, the cops do have a point here.
Many new distracted driving laws focus on gadgets and technology. But actually, anything that takes away your attention could subject you to such a violation, just as Sergeant Ernster said.
Laws vary from place to place, but some states have prohibited reading, writing, interacting with pets, and personal grooming. So, ladies and gentlemen, put down the lipsticks, razors, and coffee mugs. Multitasking could cost you time and money.Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).