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Is it legal to drive with a dog in your lap?

Merton Vance

There’s no specific law that bans driving with a dog in the seat with you, according to Sgt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the State Highway Patrol.

But it’s not generally a good idea, for safety reasons, he said.

If a driver were involved in an accident while holding a dog, it might be possible to charge someone with careless and reckless driving, depending on the circumstances, Gordon said.

A report by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center found that about 11 percent of accidents involving distracted drivers involved distractions by “other occupants.”  For more information: www.hsrc.unc.edu/index.cfm

User-contributed question by:
Mark Tinsley
Mark Tinsley

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4 Responses to “ Is it legal to drive with a dog in your lap?”

  1. On April 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm Thomas Huntre wrote:

    In regards to driving with your dog on your lap, regardless of the legality, think of the dog. If there were an accident, regardless of whether the dog had anything to do with it; if the airbag deploys, it most likely will injure the dog. The dog would be trapped between the driver and the airbag. I suspect that the impact would most likely severly injure the dog.


  2. On April 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm Joe Pumper wrote:

    Common sense would tell most intelligent people that operating a vehicle on public roads with other people’s families with an animal in your lap greatly reduces your capabilities to operate that vehicle safely. You’re not just putting your own life in greater danger, but also the loved ones of others around you. Personally, my wife and children are worth much more than any dog. Yes, we have a dog. Our dog rides in the back, behind the passenger seats and it seems very content. Realize that driving with a dog in your lap is all for you and nothing for the dog. Stop being inconsiderate and start thinking of the families around you.

  3. On October 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm Angela wrote:

    People that have dogs in their arms, or one running all over them are just as distracted as somebody texting while driving. Texting is band, so should having something running back and forth in front of them

  4. On August 10, 2011 at 12:57 am Marilea wrote:

    I’m not sorry about the fact that I allow my 8 pound maltese to sit on my lap (calmly and NOT running around the vehicle) while I am driving. He is a very nervous passenger anyway and he feels more secure on my lap.
    There is no specific ordinance in OHIO that states that you must have your dog ‘restrained’ or in a doggie seat in a moving vehicle.
    If the dog is running around causing a distraction, THAT’S another story. THEN a ticket might be warranted. HOWEVER, there needs to be some COMMON SENSE when it comes to issuing tickets based on teh CONDUCT of the animal in question. LET’S get real people.
    I’m getting ready to fight a ticket I got today for having a dog in my lap…and the cop saw him sitting in my lap at a RED LIGHT IN TOWN! He was in a BAD MOOD and my response to his initial questioning got me in trouble…when he asked me, ‘Would you allow a baby sit in your lap while driving?” I answered smartly, “OF course not! there is a law that states you must have a baby in a car seat, but there is no law that states you are required to have a small pet in a car seat! If they are going to start issuing tickets now (after 40 years of driving with my small pets on my lap and no accident to date) then they better state it in an ordinance worded SPECIFICALLY and EDUCATE and NOTIFY the public that this is what is coming down!
    I’m fighting this ticket and I think I have a pretty good case to win!

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