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The BBC's Jane O'Brien
"A sip of water has landed her in trouble"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 June, 2000, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Driver booked for sipping water
Linda Smart in her car
Linda Smart was fined 20
A motorist fined by police after sipping mineral water at the wheel has promised to fight the matter in court.

Linda Smart, 27, refused to pay an on-the-spot 20 fine for allegedly failing to be in charge of her vehicle.

Her Volkswagen Lupo was pulled to the side of the road in Chippenham, Wiltshire, by a policeman who spotted her taking a swig from a bottle of water as she waited at a set of traffic lights, it was reported.

Mrs Smart, a finance clerk, was charged but has opted to fight the matter in court.

Linda Smart
Linda Smart: police should deal with more important things
She risks a 200 fine and four points on her driving licence as the maximum punishment if found guilty.

She told the BBC: "How can I be out of control if I'm not even moving? The lights were red and I was stationary.

"The police should be catching burglars and criminals, not prosecuting motorists."

Mrs Smart, of Calne, Wiltshire, added that police had still not contacted her husband a week after his car was broken into and tools worth 1,000 stolen.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police defended its officer's action, saying: "Our concern is for the safety of other road users.

"If a police officer feels a driver is not in charge of their vehicle while it is moving, they will be stopped and advice or a ticket will be given."

He said the theft from Mr Smart's car was irrelevant to his wife's case.

KitKat case dropped

Rob Maynard from the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) said there were grey areas over what constitutes safe driving.

"I think this particular case we've got in Wiltshire of someone drinking from a bottle while stationary at traffic lights has to be seen in that context."

Mrs Smart's case came a month after Hampshire Police fined a motorist for eating a chocolate bar at the wheel.

Kevin Storey, 33, was spotted munching a KitKat while driving on the M3 near Winchester.

He was issued with a 20 fixed penalty for not being in control of the vehicle.

But police later gave Mr Storey, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, a break, admitting the fine was "inappropriate" and would be quashed.

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