Is it Illegal to Eat and Drive?

In the US you are likely familiar with the concept that drinking alcohol while driving and using a phone while driving (not hands-free) is illegal. Given the accidents that both of these situations can cause, it is completely understandable why it is against the law.

The law serves to protect the American people and helps to hold guilty people accountable for the wrongdoings they have done.

When you look at how using a phone is illegal, it may make you consider what else is illegal. For example, does smoking, eating, or drinking non-alcoholic beverages affect how efficiently you can drive?

When you think about it logistically, these could all potentially cause an accident if the driver was being reckless and was not paying sufficient attention to the road.

In this article, we will be discussing whether or not it is illegal to eat and drive in the US. We will also be discussing the potential dangers that eating and driving may cause. 

Is It Illegal To Eat And Drive

Is It Illegal?

While this may come as a shock to you, it is not actually illegal to eat and drive. While it is not always the best decision to make, you will not be charged for doing so.

However, if you are driving irresponsibly, a cop does have the right to pull you over. If they believe that your driving was a risk to yourself or other people they can give you a ticket. In addition to this, you may also be fined.

While the act of eating behind the wheel is not illegal, there can be big consequences. Rather than being charged for the act of eating while driving, you could be charged for things like speeding, negligence, or dangerous driving if you are not paying close enough attention to the road.

The majority of drivers have eaten whilst driving. If you are late to work, or stuck in traffic, it is tempting to take a bite out of a burger or steal a few potato chips.

If you are on a long stretch of road and you are short of time to reach your destination, grabbing a few bites of a sandwich is something many people are likely to do.

Keeping this in mind, if you choose to eat while driving, you should be aware of the risks of doing so. In addition to this, you should be confident that you can drive safely and start alert at all times while doing so, which is not an easy task.

Why It Is Not Always Safe To Eat And Drive

As we have mentioned above, it is not always safe to eat and drive. It only takes one second for you to take your eyes off the road for an accident to occur.

When you do not give your full concentration to driving, an accident can happen very quickly. This could be anything from bumping into the back of someone, missing a traffic light signal, or even injuring yourself or someone else.

The driver has the responsibility of driving safely not only to adhere to the law, but to protect themselves, their passengers, and everyone around them too.

In addition to the dangers that can be caused outside of the car, if, for example, you have a warm cup of coffee, this could spill on you and burn. If the drink spills onto the pedals or the steering wheel, this could cause the pedals and wheel to become sticky and slippery.

Food You Should Avoid Eating While Driving

While it is better to avoid eating completely when driving, some foods are easier to eat than others.

For example, if someone has unwrapped a sweet and popped it into your mouth, this is less risky than opening the sweet yourself. It can still pose dangers, however.

There are certain types of food that you should avoid eating completely while driving.

This is due to the added difficulty of opening them and the potential dangers they can cause. Here is a short list of these:

Chocolate - Firstly, the wrappers that cover chocolate are notoriously fiddly. Often you will be unable to open chocolate with just one hand. Given this, it should be avoided. Chocolate can also melt quickly, which can become a distraction if your hands become sticky.

Soups - While this may seem like a silly type of food to eat while driving, you will be surprised to know that people have likely tried this. Soups are served warm and can cause burns. You cannot eat soup with a spoon while driving. Instead, you would need to consume it like a hot drink. This can cause a whole host of potential hazards.

Burgers - While it may seem tempting to pop into your local fast food joint to get a hamburger to go, this may not be the best idea. Overly full burgers can easily tip over you or the steering wheel. Eating burgers or sandwiches with a lot of filling is more distracting than you may think.

These are only a few suggestions. Many other foods are particularly messy or difficult to eat while driving and should be avoided.


To summarise, while eating and driving is not illegal, it is not one of the most responsible things you can do. While it may seem tempting if you are short on time or on a long road trip, is it worth the risk?

Just because something is not illegal, does not necessarily mean it is something you should do. For the safety of yourself and those around you, it is always better to pull over into a safe space to consume food.

While you cannot be arrested for eating behind the wheel, if you are not taking care when you are driving, you can be charged for a whole host of other reasons which link back to eating.

In addition to this, you can still receive a ticket or a fine for eating and driving if you are being irresponsible.


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