California bill advances; would ban pets on drivers’ laps

| 8/19/2008

A bill nearing passage in the California Senate 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 Senate Transportation and Housing Committee voted to advance a bill to the full Senate that would prohibit people from driving while holding a live animal in their arms or lap.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, the bill would fine violators between $35 and $100.

If approved by the Senate, the bill – AB2233 – would head back to the Assembly for approval of changes before moving to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

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.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor