Motorist handed $185 fine after sipping water behind the wheel
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
A Queensland motorist claims he was handed a A$173 ($185) fine and one demerit point all because he took a sip of water while driving.
Brock Harris, told ABC Radio Brisbane he was driving home to Beaudesert, about 70km from Brisbane, after a 12-hour work day when the incident occurred.
He claimed that he took a sip from a 600ml plastic bottle of water as he was turning onto his street, which is when the police officer pulled him over.
"As I was pulling into my street I was pulled over by the police and told it was illegal to drink anything while driving," he told ABC's Rebecca Levingston.
The officer reportedly told Harris that the A$173 fine and one demerit point was a result of him "not paying due care and attention".
"If it is against the law then I'll pay the fine, but it's not compassionate to fine someone on a 39C day [for trying to] stay hydrated," he said.
"The policeman told me there was nothing I could do and he was doing his job — but I am going to challenge the fine."
A Queensland Police spokesperson told news.com.au that fines were usually issued under these circumstances if the action causes the driver to not be in control of the vehicle.
This sentiment was reflected in Queensland Police Superintendent David Johnson's comments to the ABC, who said there were many drivers who consume drinks safely while on the road.
"For us to issue a fine we have to look at the circumstances to see if the driver's actions are causing risks to themselves or others," he said.
"Driving without due care and attention was once put before court, but these days it's a traffic infringement notice that is issued."
Johnson also noted that the fine amount did not correlate with the offence Harris claimed he was told he committed.
According to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads website, driving without due care and attention carries a A$533 fine and three demerit points.
Eating and drinking behind the wheel is something most drivers have probably done and some have been fined — like a woman who was last year caught eating a bowl of cereal during her morning commute in Perth.
The teen was holding the bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other while appearing to be steering with her knees.
Police said the woman was fined A$300 and accrued three demerit points for driving "without due care and attention".
Johnson said drivers need to constantly pay attention to the road and if they are eating or drinking in a way that puts others in danger then it becomes an issue.
In New Zealand, Dunedin police were last month stunned to see a motorist driving hands-free in Crawford St while eating from a cereal bowl.
The man was stopped, spoken to, and cautioned for careless driving, Constable Steve Wykes said.