New Ohio Laws Fine Drivers With Distracting Dogs

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
We all know driving while distracted is dangerous, but have you ever thought about distraction from your pets while driving? One town in Ohio has, and now has a law allowing police to cite drivers who operate cars with pets in their laps.

It’s the proverbial road-trip with your pet. You think, “I’ll not harness her in; she’ll be fine just sleeping on the back seat.”

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Except she isn’t, and she wants to be in.your.lap the entire trip. You may be a bit (a lot?) distracted, and it’s a good thing you don’t get into an accident. That scenario is one that lawmakers in the village of Mantua, Ohio are hoping to prevent with a new law that allows the local police to cite distracted drivers. And that includes drivers distracted by their pets.

Yes, that means that not only can you be cited for texting while driving, but also for having your pet in your lap while driving. Additionally, if your dog is not in your lap, but distracts you, you can also be cited. If your dog creates a situation in which you cause an accident, you will get at minimum a misdemeanor of the third degree. You can also get that misdemeanor if you are caught driving with your pet in your lap more than once in a year.

Not many places in the country actually prohibit people from driving with their pets in their laps, but that seems to be changing as more and more recognition of the dangers to other drivers as well as those in the car happens. In Hawaii, driving with a dog in one’s lap is forbidden and in New Jersey, those who drive with animals who are not buckled in also may be fined. This falls under the state’s animal cruelty laws, as it’s safer to have your dog buckled just as you would your human passengers.

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And so beginning the 20th of this month, drivers in Mantua will be fined if they’re seen with Fido in their lap. If you’re planning a trip this holiday season, consider safety practices for your dogs too. An accident could be the end of their life as well, and a simple thing like a carrier or restraint system could make all the difference.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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