A MUM who appeared in court for eating a banana in a traffic jam has been hit with a £145 fine and given three penalty points for careless driving.

Elsa Harris, who works as a carer, was pulled over while driving to work along gridlocked Barrack Road in Christchurch in June last year.

She was hit with a £100 fine at the side of the road and given the choice of either three penalty points or completing a driver awareness course, after admitting taking her hands off the wheel momentarily to peel back a piece of banana skin - but only while her car was stationary.

At the time the 45-year-old single mother refused the offer of the driver awareness course and decided she would take the case to court.

But when she appeared at Weymouth Magistrates Court last Tuesday she pleaded guilty to the offence of driving without due care and attention and was ordered to pay a £145 fine and received three penalty points on her licence.

"To be honest I thought the whole thing was completely outrageous which is why I decided to challenge it in court," said Elsa.

"But after speaking to a friend of mine who is a solicitor she advised me to just plead guilty because she said I would never win.

"The fine doesn't bother me really I'm angrier about the penalty points as they are on my record as being points for driving without due care and attention.

"It is the same crime as someone who has knocked a pedestrian over while driving and killed them - while mine are for eating a banana.

"It's just completely outrageous and now my insurance has gone up by 40 per cent as a result.

"I just feel the whole thing is a joke."

Eating while driving is not a specific offence. However, anyone distracted behind the wheel or failing to operate their vehicle correctly because they are eating could be committing an offence of driving without due care and attention, or not being in proper control of a vehicle.

A statement on the Dorset Police No Excuse Facebook page said: "The driver was offered a driver awareness course for not having proper control of their vehicle whilst driving.

"They had been seen peeling a banana whilst driving with no hands on the steering wheel, risking the safety of other road users.

"The driver slipped up when they declined the offer of a course and elected to challenge the case in court.

"We appreciate that everyone's lives are hectic and busy but please think twice before eating and drinking at the wheel."