Drivers have received a cautionary message that they could be fined and receive penalty points on their licence for consuming non-alcoholic beer while driving, despite the beverage containing no alcohol.
Non-alcoholic lager has gained popularity among Brits seeking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These drinks do not contain alcohol and are not subject to drink-drive limits, as they typically contain only a fraction (0.05%) of a unit of alcohol.
However, drivers who consume non-alcoholic beer while behind the wheel may still face penalties. The AA has warned that such actions could lead to fines of up to £2,500 and a licence endorsement.
In 2000, a driver was issued an on-the-spot fine for eating a KitKat while driving on the M3 near Winchester, Hampshire. Law enforcement argued that the driver was not in proper control of the vehicle. According to The Highway Code, failing to have proper control of a vehicle carries a maximum penalty of £1,000, which increases to £2,500 for passenger-carrying vehicles or goods vehicles.
A spokesperson for the AA clarified, “Just like eating, there is no specific law against drinking a non-alcoholic or soft drink while driving if it does not distract the driver. However, a driver holding any bottle while at the wheel runs the risk of being pulled over by the police for not being in proper control of the vehicle. This has occurred with water bottles and a KitKat, although the latter fine was dropped after review. A non-alcoholic beer should be no different from a bottle of water, although it may attract more attention from the police if they think it is an alcoholic drink. The best advice is always to find a safe place to park to take refreshments rather than taking the chance of being pulled over.”