What the new distracted driving law actually enforces

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Come Sunday, you will not only have to put your cell phone down, but also your sandwich, coffee, and for some, even your make-up according to a photo tweeted out by Washington State Patrol.

The photo sparked conversation among the public and had people wondering if it is true. Will drivers actually be ticketed for eating and drinking while on the road? KREM 2 met with Washington State Patrol to find out what you can and cannot do and how they will enforce this new law.

The beauty of going through a drive-thru is grabbing food and drink so you can eat on the go. But, you will have to put these down if they distract you from driving safely.

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“When we’re driving, we need to be driving,” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney.

Trooper Sevigney said starting Sunday, eating or drinking while driving will be a secondary violation with a $99 fine. That means law enforcement would have to pull you over for another traffic violation in order to ticket you for having a sandwich or coffee in your hand.

“I’ve seen it in my 20 year career – people driving down the road reading a newspaper or looking in their mirror while going 70 miles per hour and doing their make-up,” recalled Trooper Sevigney.

But this does not mean you cannot eat or drink on the go. Just do not get caught violating another travel law while doing it.

“It says you can’t be distracted by your eating. Now most of us don’t have to think to eat. If you do have to think to eat, you should pull over and then continue driving,” said Trooper Sevigney.

And as far as enforcement goes, Sevigney said these secondary violations are not the main focus. He said their main concern is electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets. Law enforcement and first responders are exempt from this law when on the clock. But as for everyone else, Sevigney said it is best to limit your distractions and just focus on driving.