Dog in driver’s lap isn’t illegal — unless…..

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.

3 thoughts on “Dog in driver’s lap isn’t illegal — unless…..

  1. there should be more done to limit and enforce where pets ride in a vehicle. pets in laps or hanging out of windows are nothing but a distraction to drivers. make it a law that they ride either in the back seat or rear of vehicle.

  2. I agree GP. I googled “Dogs in drivers laps cause accident” and there are several stories out there about people and dogs getting killed from driver lap dogs. Including a few in washington. Funny thing is only Hawaii has a complete ban on dogs in drivers laps. Most states just state a law that is the same here “Obstruction to Driver’s View or Driving Mechanism”. So in other words nothing will happen to you until something bad happens. Which is unfortunate when it happens after someone gets killed. I read some of the comments on some of the past stories on the web from all over the world and those who defend their dogs riding on their laps always say the same thing, “Well my dog like the wind in their face”. Which is such a misconception to them, Dogs are companion animals and it dont really matter if they are in the back seat or out the window, they are just happy to be with their owner. I had a dog once that hated water, but would go out on the boat if it meant he was with us.
    The biggest problem is the fact that people treat their dogs as if they are their kids and that is fine, but you know it is required by law to buckle up your kids. My dog likes to load up in the truck but she very seldom goes anywhere with us because in our busy life with our kids we very seldom get to go somewhere where dogs are allowed. And unlike some folks I see out there, I dont take my dog to places like a resturaunt or the grocery store or even to stores in the mall. Now I mention these cause I see this all the time and I always thought there was health laws against taking a non service animal into places where food is served or stored. But yet I have walked into Costco and Safeway and seen little dogs in the basket. Even saw a guy with 3 wiener dogs walking around walmart.

    A little off subject But in the end they are still just dogs and sometimes that should be treated like dogs and at times they need to just stay home. And before anyone comments and say that I am a dog hater, I am not. I Love Dogs and if I had the space I would have lots of dogs and cats. I just think that society has gotten out of control with thinking that in todays world a pet has become to humanized.

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