Drinking coffee behind the wheel = distracted driving?

The Minnesota state police don’t deny that they see coffee-drinking behind the wheel as something that might constitute prohibited distracted driving, but deny Lindsay Krieger’s claim that that was why she was pulled over on Interstate 94 in St. Paul. A spokeswoman says an officer stopped and ticketed Krieger (not her first time) for driving without a seat belt, and the coffee lecture was in the nature of an added warning. Krieger was once “busted in Eagan…for eating Cheerios out of a cup while waiting in line to make a turn.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, FindLaw]


  • Don’t forget changing the radio station or CD too. Hey, maybe a product liability claim against the auto makers for having radios and cup holders in the vehicle?

  • As far as whether drinking is a distraction, that has to be a case by case basis. Are they using a mug so huge it impairs their vision, are they looking down for the cupholder for long periods, are they failing to stay in their lane? If not, then there’s not proof that they’re significantly distracted.

  • Are you saying she’s also a cereal offender?

  • This. This is why we need LPRs.

    I hope the police are keeping a close eye on this scofflaw.

  • I’m fed up with people putting on make-up, shaving, texting, etc., while driving. We don’t need individual laws to spell each one of these out every time some clown finds a way to abuse the system. Distracted driving is distracted driving.

  • Brent,

    I am not disagreeing with you completely but I do think you need to think about where the limits should be.

    If I change stations on the radio,even using a steering wheel mounted shifter, I am thinking about something else and a bit distracted.

    If I am talking to someone on the phone hands free or to another passenger in the car, I am distracted.

    If I drive with young kids in the car who start arguing, I am distracted.

    If I am listing to the traffic report and thinking about whether to stray on 95 or switch to the side roads, I am distracted.

    If I reach for my coffee, I am distracted.
    If I don’t reach for it and start thinking about my mouth being dry I am distracted,

    If I see an convertible with a group of attractive…

    I think you get my drift. Life is a series of distractions and we have to manage them all the time. I do think that doing things that require you to remove one of your hands from the wheel or your eyes from the road for extended lengths of time should be discouraged. But we DO need to set some specifics as to what is allowed for normal operation of a vehicle if we are going to say that ‘distraction’ is enough to create an offence. The police and prosecutors are far to fond of expanding the definitions on their own is allowed to.

  • No doubt some activities can be dangerous… My absolute favorite was seeing a lady reading a paperback book propped up on the steering wheel while driving on the Long Island Expressway (westbound near the Hauppauge entrance ramp, in case anyone’s interested) some years ago.
    But coffee drinking?

  • I wonder how many of Minnesota’s police drink hot coffee while on duty. It gets cold up there.