Is Eating While You’re Driving Against the Law in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is notorious for having a lot of laws, rules, and regulations. Some may seem excessive, annoying, and inconvenient but most laws in Massachusetts are there to protect its residents, especially when it comes to driving.
You might think that Massachusetts laws are outrageous compared to the rest of the country, but according to Finder.com Oregon and Alaska actually have the strictest driving laws in the country based on the company's analysis of drunk driving, seatbelt, and speeding laws. Fines and punishments are higher in those two states than in any other, including Massachusetts.
So we know the basics, laws about speeding, texting and driving drunk driving, proper registering of vehicles, and all that jazz, but as I was scarfing down lunch on the road on a busy Friday last week, I wondered, can I get pulled over for having a snack behind the wheel?
So, Is Eating While Driving Illegal in Massachusetts?
The answer is, not exactly. Basically, there is no law specifically forbidding you to eat while operating a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, however, it could still land you in hot water. If you got pulled over because your driving was erratic or unsafe due to the fact that you were consuming food you could be charged with distracted driving.
According to mass.gov distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. These activities could be something illegal like texting and driving, or legal activities such as eating, adjusting the radio, or arguing with another passenger.
So while eating while driving isn't technically illegal, it can still result in tickets and fines. Take for example one Amherst, Massachusetts man who in 2018 was pulled over by a Deerfield Police Officer for eating a bagel with cream cheese. Masslive reports that the 22-year-old driver was charged with impeded driving (what distracted driving was referred to as previous to 2021) not because of the fact he was eating, but because of HOW he was eating. The officer said the young man was holding the bagel with both hands, leaving no hands on the wheel. The ticket was $40, making it the most expensive bagel in the world.