New Jersey banning coffee while driving? Not so fast

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Drivers who drink coffee behind the wheel don’t need to worry about getting a ticket in New Jersey any time soon.

The sponsor of a bill targeting distracted driving says his measure doesn’t specifically cite coffee, despite recent news reports focusing on the beverage.

Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski said the legislation is aimed at discouraging distracted driving and that he cannot imagine that a police officer would pull anyone over for drinking coffee.

Current law already prohibits texting or talking without a hands-free device. The new legislation is broader and would bar “any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.”

Wisniewski says he sponsored the bill , which doesn’t mention eating or drinking, to avoid the need for new legislation every time technology changes.

He introduced the measure seven months ago, but he has yet to bring it up for a vote in a committee he leads. It also never came up for a vote in the two previous legislative sessions in which he introduced similar bills.

Wisniewski said he was surprised by the reaction to the legislation. He said the outcry against the bill has been so strong that his inbox has filled up even more than when he proposed a 25-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax.

Wisniewski said when he introduced the bill before, people worried he was trying to stop them from eating sandwiches while driving.

“It was the ‘ham sandwich bill’ last time,” he said. “Now it’s coffee.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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