Charges dropped against man cited for eating while driving

Charges have been dropped against one of the billions served a cheeseburger through a drive-thru window.

An Alabama man made national headlines after he was stopped in Cobb County in January and cited for eating while driving. Because after all, who hasn't eaten a double Quarter Pounder with cheese behind the wheel?

But on Friday afternoon, charges were dropped against Harris Madison Turner, the Cobb County Solicitor said.

“Based upon the officer’s good faith belief that the defendant committed a ‘non-cited’ traffic offense while eating and driving, the State believes the officer had probable cause to issue the relevant citation,” the court order stated. “However, the Solicitor General elects to reduce the charge to a warning.”

“The officer explained to me that he observed me eating a burger for two miles,” Turner said. “He said specifically three times, ‘You can’t just go down the road eating a hamburger.’ ”

The law cited by the ticketing officer requires drivers to “exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”

“Maybe I was enjoying the burger too much,” Turner told Channel 2 Action News. “I needed to tone it down. I was certainly willing to do so, but I didn’t expect to be fined or punished.”

After the citation was issued, Solicitor Barry Morgan said it's generally not the specific action alone that violates the law, but when that action distracts a driver and leads to unsafe driving that there's a problem.

The driver has to be engaging in an action, the action has to be distracting and the distraction has to cause the vehicle to be operated in an unsafe manner, Morgan said.

“To be successful and prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, all three elements have to be present,” Morgan said.