The in basket: Shawn Morris asks about “the law pertaining to drivers who drive with their dogs on their laps or even just loose in their vehicle and, if it is illegal, if law enforcement ever cites drivers for loose animals.
“I see almost as may drivers with their dogs on the laps and heads out the window than I do cell phone drivers,” he said.
The out basket: Nothing has changed since I last addressed this in 2005, says Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the state patrol here.
Back then, Russ’ predecessor twice removed, Trooper Brian George, said, “”There is no law specifically forbidding driving with a dog on your lap, but it fits under a law called ‘Obstruction to Driver’s View or Driving Mechanism.’
“If an animal or load (in this case a dog) obstructs the view to the front or side of the vehicle, or interferes with the controls of safely driving the vehicle, the driver may be cited.
“I have stopped drivers a few times for this violation,” he continued. “The times I can recall are when the dog is large or active in the lap of the driver, when it is obvious the driver is attempting to control the dog.”
A car full of furniture that blocks the driver’s view is another occasion for using the law, often around going-off-to-college time in the fall, he added.
Russ expanded on the issue by saying,”It is still a bad idea to let a pet move around the interior of a car, potentially distracting the driver. However, there remains no law regarding transporting animals – other than (to require)tethering a dog in the open bed of a truck – that addresses specifically dogs loose in the vehicle.
“Some people think it is a good idea to let the dog hang out of the window because ‘they like it.’ The question is would you let your child hang out the window?” Russ asked.