If a new bill in Rhode Island becomes law, it will be illegal to drive with a dog on your lap. The purpose is to protect both people and dogs from being injured or killed in accidents. Distracted drivers are a danger while driving, and it’s hard to argue that a dog on your lap isn’t ever distracting.
Representative Peter Palumbo proposed this legislation last year, but it never came up for a vote. He is hopeful that this year will be different and that the bill will pass. He acknowledges that some people consider this bill frivolous, but he contends that it is an important matter of public safety, especially considering how many people drive with dogs on their laps.
The penalty for violating this new ban on driving with a dog on your lap would be a fine: $85 for a first offense, $100 for a second violation, and $125 for all subsequent ones.
The state of Hawaii does not allow drivers to have dogs on their laps. In Maine, Connecticut and Arizona, distracted-driving laws can be used against people driving with dogs in their laps. What are you thoughts on such laws?
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.