A motorist sipped on a cup of coffee while driving along Interstate 94 after the morning rush hour in St. Paul, and she was immediately pulled over by a state trooper.
In dispute, however, is why.
Lindsay Krieger insisted Wednesday that bringing the McDonald’s cup to her lips prompted the stop and that she did nothing to endanger her or the other drivers around her Monday on eastbound I-94 near Dale Street.
The trooper, Krieger said, was determined to lecture her about her java consumption while in motion.
“She kept asking, ‘Why did I pull you over?’ ” Krieger, 36, recounted. “And I really, honestly had no idea. ‘It’s the coffee. Drinking coffee and driving is against the law.’ I was not doing anything wrong.”
The State Patrol’s spokeswoman, Lt. Tiffani Schweigart, was briefed Wednesday by the trooper and said it was the SUV driver’s lack of being belted in — and not the coffee drinking — that inspired the stop.
While the trooper explained that she often goes to crashes and sees spilled coffee and other similar situations where “drivers are trying to do too many things at once,” Schweigart went on to quote the trooper as saying, “ ‘I wouldn’t stop her just for drinking coffee while driving.’ ”
State statutes don’t specify that drinking coffee while driving is against the law, but such an act can be considered inattentive driving, an offense getting a lot of public attention lately because of cellphone use on the roads.
Rather than give tickets for both offenses, the trooper opted to cite Krieger for the seat-belt violation.
Krieger explained that she didn’t unhook her seat belt until coming to a full stop so she could reach into the glove compartment for her insurance papers.
But Schweigert said the trooper saw Krieger unbelted while still moving on the interstate.
Krieger said that not only is she going to contest the seat-belt ticket but that she’s “not going to stop drinking coffee” while driving.
This is not Krieger’s first seat-belt citation. State court records show she’s been convicted of the offense three other times, most recently in 2011.
She also acknowledged getting busted in Eagan when she was in her early 20s for eating Cheerios out of a cup while waiting in line to make a turn.