California bill would ban drivers’ lap dogs, other animals

| 6/18/2008

The California Assembly has approved a bill that is intended to encourage pet lovers to keep their animals off their laps while at the wheel.

Current state law prohibits people from driving with their view obstructed or if there is interference with their control of the vehicle. There is no limitation that prevents pets from roaming freely in vehicles.

The Assembly voted 44-20 to advance a bill to the Senate that would change that. Sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, the measure would prohibit people from driving while holding a live animal in their arms or lap.

Violators would face fines between $35 and $100.

Supporters say that keeping pets restrained in back seats will help keep them safe. If left free to roam throughout a vehicle, pets can be become “a deadly projectile” during sudden stops or crashes, they say.

Others say that pets can become a distraction that put drivers and their passengers at risk.

Opponents say that government shouldn’t dictate who can sit on drivers’ laps.

The bill – AB2233 – is in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor