Do you drink and drive? Of course not, you say. But that would be a lie – because most all of us either hit the morning drive-thru of our favorite coffee spot or else get a home brew going for our to-go mug. A gal in Minnesota however was pulled over for sipping her cup of Joe; she was allegedly told by a female cop that it’s “against the law to drink coffee while you are driving.”
According to Fox News on Oct. 21, Lindsey Krieger had just merged onto I-94 in St. Paul when the officer hit the lights in her patrol car and motioned Krieger to pull over. She complied, and like many of us, wanted to know her misdeed.
“I didn’t even have enough time to merge up to the right speed limit yet, so I wasn’t speeding or anything like that,” she said. After repeatedly asking the officer why she was stopped, Krieger said the officer specifically told her: “Drinking coffee. It’s against the law to drink coffee while you are driving.”
Of course, Minnesota traffic regulations are silent when it comes to the so-called illegality of drinking coffee, because there is no such law on the books. But the St. Paul Police Department is downplaying the specifics of the traffic stop, saying Krieger was pulled over for “distracted driving,” a charge that Krieger vehemently disputes.
Sgt. Mike Ernster with the St. Paul Police Department told Fox 9 that “inattentive driving relates to anything that takes your attention away from those obligations of every driver, which is to pay attention.”
But Krieger says the cop was insistent that her offense was simply having a coffee cup in one hand while her other hand was on the wheel. Krieger said she was looking ahead and made no indication that she was “distracted.”
In fact, the Minnesota Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) wrote about distracted driving and addressed the issue of coffee drinking and other “common” actions taken by drivers inside their vehicles. The GHSA wrote:
“While the potential distracting effects of these activities are largely self-evident, there is little that states can or should do about them. Many, such as changing a radio station, eating, or drinking, are fairly common. But if done carefully, their distracting effects are minimal; states are not likely to prohibit listening to the radio or drinking coffee while driving. Both existing traffic laws and common sense already attempt to control truly blatant distracting activities such as watching a television program while driving.”
Krieger was let off with a “warning.” Yet it seems this officer needed something to stick, so she nailed Krieger for driving without a seatbelt. Krieger says she took it off after she pulled her car over.
Needless to say, Krieger plans to fight the ticket in court. She called the whole thing a “joke” and a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”
A Minnesota safe driving advocate agreed. “Every car you drive in has cup holders in it,” Jon Cummings with the Minnesotans for Safe Driving said. “You don’t have to go three blocks before you see somebody doing something really dangerous. Those are the people we should be focusing on.”
You fight the ticket Lindsey, and if you win, please let us know. The first round (of coffees) will be on us.