I eat my breakfast in my car (when I am driving to my work office). I am wondering if it is illegal or not?
Extra information: I live in Ontario, Canada. Also, I am interested to know if it is different in United States?
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As of September 1st, 2015, it is an offence (Distracted Driving) to be eating while operating your motor vehicle. The Ontario Provincial Police lists the following:
Distracted driving qualifies as talking on a cell phone, texting, reading (e.g. books, maps, and newspapers), using a GPS, watching videos or movies, eating/drinking, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music. Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued (mentally and/or physically) can be forms of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving continues to be a serious issue on our roads and is a danger to all road users.
If you break this law, you could receive:
- a fine of $225, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, for a total of $280 if settled out of court
- a fine of up to $500 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket
If you endanger others because of any distraction, including both hand-held and hands-free devices, you can also be charged with careless driving. If convicted, you will automatically receive:
- six demerit points
- fines up to $2,000 and/or
- a jail term of six months
- up to two-year licence suspension
You can even be charged with dangerous driving (a criminal offence), with jail terms of up to five years.
So yes, it's illegal. If I remember correctly, (I live here in Ontario, but I'm 16, and obviously don't have my licence), you get three demerit points upon being convicted for distracted driving.
I think it's important to keep in mind the essence of your actions. @Mowzer gave a great answer on the matter in hand, but I'd like to add a point of view.
Is it illegal to eat while driving?
Like pointed out by @Mowzer, if no law prohibits it, it's allowed by default (lots of countries have this premise).
But what about the consequences of your actions? Maybe there's no law against eating in the car, but there sure is one in my country that specific says that you are not allowed to drive without using both hands in the wheel. The only exception to this rule is to take out your hand from the wheel to use the stick to change gears.
Another point of view to add is the liability. Let's say you're minding your own business while driving and a lunatic trying to commit suicide jumps in front of your car. It's a pretty straight-forward case, you have no reason to be blamed. Now, let's add to the same scenario your snack; with a small change, you are now facing a accident that may have been caused by reckless driving (another thing commonly illegal).
To sum up, the law is not really like math that have axioms that determine true or false statements without any distinguishment. That's why every case is single handled in the law by it's particularities.
I have never heard of nor am I presently aware of a law against eating while driving.
However, when asking questions of this nature: "Is X legal?" you should keep in mind the following:
In the U.S. (other countries might be different) acts are legal by default. Meaning they are legal unless there is a law prohibiting the behavior.
Laws are legal by default. Meaning if a law exists, it is considered legal unless and until it is ruled illegal by a court. Illegal in this case means unconstitutional.
You should clarify your jurisdiction. In the U.S. we have at least three or four levels of laws (federal, state and local) plus a practically speaking, limitless number of regulations which, though not passed by any legislation, are de facto laws nevertheless.
From a legal theory standpoint, just as it is impossible to prove a negative, so is it impossible to prove that any law prohibiting any specific behavior does not exist. One can only prove a given law does exist (by citing it). But never that is does not exist. Because there is nothing to cite.