Is it Illegal to Eat and Drive? (And Six Other Common Driving Myths, Busted)

July 23, 2018


On the road


Ella Donald

We get it, we’re all in a rush somewhere; we’ve all missed the alarm in the morning and had to eat on the go whilst behind the wheel on the way to work. But whilst digging into your bacon and egg McMuffin or burger of choice when driving isn’t technically illegal, you might just get pulled over anyway, as it’s a potential distraction that you’re better off avoiding.

To tuck in or not, is just one of the many myths when it comes to the legalities around what you can and can’t do while driving. Often it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no/legal or illegal, but to help bust these myths, we take a closer look at some other common misconceptions below.

1. Is wearing headphones while driving harmless?


There is nothing specifically prohibiting you from driving with headphones on, but like eating breakfast on the go, it isn’t recommended, and could still lead to penalties if it causes an accident. Best to stick to listening to your playlist and podcasts through the radio, and eliminate any potential distractions that having your headphones on might bring.

2. Can I drive with the interior light on at night?

Although needing to read paper maps are now a distant memory for most, occasionally we need to do something that requires light as we drive at night. Once again, there’s nothing technically stopping you from doing this, however, it does create reflections that might make safe night driving difficult, for those in the next lane, as well as yourself — so if someone looks your way, make sure to switch it off and remember to always keep a clear view of what’s ahead, behind, and next to you.

3. Is driving beneath the speed limit illegal?


We all know that “speeding kills” and see cameras poised at the roadside everywhere, well-versed in making our roads safer by not driving too fast, but what about driving too slow? According to the QLD road rules, you cannot drive so abnormally slow that you cause an obstruction; for example, driving at 20km/hr on an 80 km/hr road, making everyone driving behind you slow down. Make sure to follow the signs that way everyone will get to where they want to be safe and sound.

4. Can my dog walk around the back seat freely while I drive?


Wrong! Sorry to everyone who loves to have their best friend close at hand, but numerous regulations stipulate penalties for drivers who don’t keep their pets adequately restrained whilst on the roads. This means no driving with your dog on your lap, and they should be seated in an appropriate area of the vehicle where they can’t distract you or injure themselves. The RSPCA can even issue fines and imprisonment of up to six months if an animal is injured due to not being restrained.

5. Is it fine to go barefoot or wear heels while driving?


It’s both legal to drive barefoot or with heels, as there is no law forbidding any specific footwear or wearing no footwear at all for that matter. Regardless, wearing impractical footwear like high heels and thongs have caused fatal road accidents in the past, as they don’t allow for the car to be properly controlled consistently — the same is true when driving barefoot, or, for that matter, knee driving. So in this case, it’s better to choose footwear that best allows you to safely operate the car.

6. Can I park my unregistered car on the street?

You may not be taking it anywhere outside of a few metres, but no, you can’t. According to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 QLD, it’s illegal to:

  • Drive an unregistered vehicle
  • Allow an unregistered vehicle to be parked on the road
  • Own an unregistered vehicle, which is driven or found parked on the road

The fine for driving an unregistered vehicle ranges between $292 and $390, depending on the number of cylinders.

Ella Donald

Ella is a Brisbane based writer for Smith's Lawyers who has written for many noteworthy publications including Vanity Fair, CNN, GQ Middle East, The Guardian, Fairfax, and The Saturday Paper. She covers topics such as entertainment and arts, sport, fashion, food, social and cultural issues, health and beauty, technology, law and travel. She also teaches at the University of Queensland in the School of Communication and Arts.