If you're driving through New Jersey this summer, it might be best to fuel up on caffeine before you hit the road. New Jersey coffee drinkers may be prohibited from driving while enjoying their morning cup, if State Assemblyman John Wisniewski's proposed distracted driving law comes to pass. The proposed legislation, which is one of the harshest of such measures proposed in the country, would ban drinking, eating, opening maps, and reading newspapers while driving in New Jersey. (Although to be fair, the last item on that list should already be against the law, since it's a clear violation of common sense in the first place.)
Of course, the proposed New Jersey coffee drinking and driving legislation wouldn't just target coffee. New Jersey's distracted driving proposition would ban "any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway." So that includes eating breakfast burritos, applying makeup and, presumably, calling in your favorite Bon Jovi song to the local radio station during the rush hour rock block. Getting caught under the proposed law would net you a $200 to $400 fine for the first offense, a $400 to $600 ticket for the second, and a penalty between $600 and $800 for the third offense, in addition to a three-month license suspension and points.
The New Jersey coffee drinking and driving ban isn't the only measure that has come up in state legislatures across the country, Maine and Utah's distracted driving statues are similarly strict, imposing fines and penalties for almost any form of distracted driving. And New Jersey's distracted driving laws might become more common in other states as well, as the country gravitates toward harsher punishment for drivers who do not focus on the road. Most states, however, have not banned specific activities. They've opted for broader bans on activities that "impair the driver's ability to drive safely," or are "[...] not necessary to operating the vehicle."
But even if New Jersey coffee drinkers aren't able to take their latte on the road, there might alternatives in the offing that could let them enjoy their morning caffeine fix.
Even if this law doesn't pass, having a hands-free coffee cup might not be a bad thing to pursue anyway. Get to work, Elon Musk.