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This is how you could be fined £1,000 when buying your breakfast at a drive thru

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

10 May 2019

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Car and van drivers are being warned about rules that could see them hit with a heavy fine when buying food at a drive thru.

Small business owners are always on the go – and sometimes, you might grab a bite to eat between work.

Whether it’s a McDonalds, Burger King, KFC or Starbucks, there’s lots of options for getting a fast meal at a drive thru.

And there’s plenty of options for paying for that meal. But drivers should be warned that if you choose to pay using Apple or Google Pay – or any digital wallet – you could be fined up to £1,000. Here’s why.

If your engine is running, you shouldn’t use your phone

By the strict letter of the law, your phone shouldn’t be in your hands while your engine is running. This applies even if your vehicle is stopped – so if you’re waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic, you shouldn’t pick it up.

This extends to using your phone to pay for your food at a drive thru.

The RAC say that the rules for using your phone behind the wheel became tougher in March 2017, so if you’re caught you automatically face six penalty points and a £200 fine. If it goes to court, you could lose your licence and get a maximum fine of £1,000.

Would a fine for paying at a drive thru be too harsh?

Not in the strictest interpretation of the rules. But the National Police Chiefs' Council told the Express that the “law applies to drivers using a mobile phone behind the wheel when on a ‘road’.

“Therefore, drivers using their phones ‘off road’, such as when paying at a drive-through, may not be committing this offence.”

They added that they’d hope officers use their discretion when deciding whether to apply the law.

McDonald’s also spoke to the Express and highlighted that there are a number of restrictions in place to prevent “irresponsible and dangerous driving.”

But six in 10 drivers are in the dark about mobile phone use

An RAC survey from June 2018 revealed that many drivers aren’t aware of the fines for mobile phone use.

They surveyed 2,000 drivers and found out that only 36 per cent know what the punishments are.

And only 26 per cent know that the penalties got harsher in March 2017. So while the jury’s out on whether a police officer will punish you for using your phone at a drive thru, it’s worth making note of the tougher £200 fine – and adjusting, if necessary.

As the RAC notes: “…every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone.

“While it is reassuring that a good number of motorists have decided to stop doing it, there is still much more to be done.”

Do you use your phone when buying food at the drive thru? Let us know in the comments below.

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