By on November 30, 2017

driving with dog
There are few things that offer the same kind of trivial gratification as a photograph of a dog behind the wheel of an automobile. Assaulting several different pleasure centers of the brain simultaneously, the image of a dog driving a car is objectively perfect. Even thinking about it just now probably caused a positive reaction in your mind.

It’s as endearing as it is hilarious. Subaru developed an entire ad campaign around the concept and other groups have used similar tactics — resulting in viral videos and critical acclaim. However, as great as a dog pretending to drive a car is, there are few things less infuriating than when someone allows their dog to sit on their lap whilst operating a motor vehicle.

Apparently, I’m not alone in this opinion, as a bill has been introduced to crack down on this highly specific form of distracted driving. 

According to a brief report from WZZM-TV, LaTanya Garrett, Democrat State Representative from Michigan’s 7th district, has introduced a bill that would prohibit anyone from operating a vehicle with a dog on their lap.

Breaking the proposed law would be a civil infraction, resulting in a $100 fine for the first offense and $200 for any additional offenses. There is an exception under the Americans With Disabilities Act if the dog is there for a medical reason.

dog car

Hawaii and New Jersey both have similar laws in effect already. But it might not be a terrible idea to implement this sort of idea more broadly. Sure, it’s not the most dangerous thing to do behind the wheel and you may have done it before without incident. However, I’m forced to remind everyone that driving while dogged means different things to different people. Having a calm Dachshund napping for the duration of a trip isn’t the same as having a Great Dane that’s suddenly overcome with the urge to lick your face as you attempt to merge with traffic.

In the end, it’s a pretty reasonable fine for a potentially dangerous activity. If it keeps inappropriately doting pet owners from taking their eyes off the road, I see no reason to be terribly critical of the bill — especially since avoiding the ticket would be so easy. Keep those adorable little maniacs in the passenger seat while in motion and move them behind the wheel only for those precious parked photo ops.

[Image: Josh Tremper/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]

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80 Comments on “New Bill Would Outlaw Driving Under the Influence of Dog...”


  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Anyone know how many pooches have been popped by an airbag? That might be a way to sell this bill.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    Another nanny state law. Please prove this law is working to save lives in New Jersey before assuming it is. To me it looks like a bunch of dog haters are doing what they do best – hating.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I’ll give you the benefit of doubt and chalk this up to a razor sharp bit of sarcasm and mighty fine trolling given your screen name.

      In the other hand I can agree this is micro managing since an untethered animal flailing about obstructing a driver would constitute reckless driving in my book and if said animal was injured as a result of the owners stupidity I’d back it up with animal cruelty chargers as well.

      Scruffy belongs in the back seat along with the ankle biters preferably tethered in some fashion to minimize injury in some fashion or restrained so that the animal cannot interfere with the operation of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      She is in the middle of her term and thinks she is protected to propose crazy legislation.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      And it looks like you’re doing what ever hater hater does best, hatin’ the haters. Why even think when you can just apply a label?

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    As a dog lover, I’d never do this anyway. The force of your face meeting an airbag with a canine in the center of it would be lethal for the dog. (plus not great for your face, I’d wager).

    An ex of mine did this all the time with an 11 lb. maltipoo and I reprimanded her ever opportunity I got.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Cat OK?

    • 0 avatar
      Heino

      No. On a long distance trip and my cats were howling in the cage. I let them out and one planted himself on the dashboard in front of my face and the other under the brake pedal. Lights flashing and had to explain to the MN state trooper why I took so long to stop. Asks me if I wanted speeding or distracted driving. He did say have a nice day.

      • 0 avatar
        yankinwaoz

        Ha! As a teenager I was tasked with taking our two young kitten to the vet. They got out of the box. One ran up my shirt and planted herself on my skull, attached with claws. The other crawled up under the brake pedal, which meant that I could not brake without crushing her.

        So I downshifted and tried to coast to the shoulder while trying to peel the one cat off my skull. Ouch! Finally manage to get them back in their box.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      I once drove about 40 miles with an uncaged cat when I was younger and more foolish. Never again!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I once drove 800 miles with an uncaged cat in the car; she just lay there just under the roof and enjoyed the ride.

        I was picking cat hair off the roof liner for the next 8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I just let Toonces drive.

  • avatar

    Doing it is a bad idea, is not safe, and disregards what will happen when the airbag shoves said canine into your face at 100 miles per hour.

    I’m in favor.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    “There is an exception under the Americans With Disabilities Act if the dog is there for a medical reason.”

    Wait, what? What medical reason could there be for a “service dog” to be in your lap while the vehicle is in motion? Are they being trained to hit the wipers when it’s raining? Paw signals out the window because you can’t operate the turn signals??

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a ruff job, and somebody’s gotta do it.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      There are drivers out there who don’t see too well. Maybe 25% of the drivers in Florida fit this group. A seeing eye dog could help them be better drivers by acting as portable semi autonomous driving aids. However, the dog would need to be licensed to assist driving and have the appropriate controls installed for paw control of brakes and steering so they can take over if necessary. Not all breeds would qualify, especially Mississippi leg hounds.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Yeah, right.

      Seeing eye dog, I’m sure.

  • avatar

    This sounds like a job for…

    PAW PATROL!

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Again, proof that common sense is not so common.

    Of course, passengers roll down the freeway at 80 with their legs up on the dash, right on top of the airbag, so…

  • avatar
    danio3834

    IMO, this is between you and your dog. But I guess they have to reach for something to stay relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yep, and driving drunk is only between me and my liver. I ain’t hurtin’ nobody if’n I’m on my 3rd PBR in the last 15 minutes doing 75 down the wrong side of the freeway at 10 pm with no lights on. Its my health! Yer jus tryin’ to be one of them thar naggin’ Nancys!

      Its between you, your dog, and whoever you hit because Scruffy decided to jump in your face (because it’s SO CUTE when he does it at home while you’re watching Dr. Phil) and thus causes you not to see traffic ahead going from 70-0 in a matter of seconds.

      I really don’t see how the concept of an animal causing a distracted driving situation is so hard to grasp. But, I like Fords, so what do I know?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Is this demonstrably some sort of epidemic? Not sure the two things equate.

        “But, I like Fords, so what do I know?”

        2G Tauruses at that.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        +1

        I find it very ironic about how dog lovers are so protective of Scruffy yet do insane things leave them unrestrained in a vehicle. Or in a hot vehicle unattended. Would you do that with your child? Like let ’em ride around on your lap, or in the bed of the pickup, or not in a car seat? I think any rule that applies to little Timmy should apply to Scruffy or Mittens.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Subaru looked into pet restrains and only found one that was of any use in an accident. http://www.media.subaru.com/pressrelease/490//study-shows-many-pet-car-safety-restraints-unsafe

          That said, if your dog is restless any restraint that keeps it away from the driver will go a long way toward preventing an accident in the first place.

          My ankle biter curls up on the floor.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      If I were your dog, I’d tell you I didn’t want to be the buffer between you and the airbag.

      But that’s just if I were your dog.

      No, it’s a safety issue (obvious reasons – safety, visibility, interference with the car’s controls, on and on), so the law makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      More like your dog is between you and your airbag.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I once saw an old foof driving one of those glorified-Fairmont T-Birds with his little fluffy dog sitting up on his arms. Which proves, I suppose, that he did have both his hands on the wheel.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Are roof top carriers still OK? Asking for a friend.

    -Mitt Romney

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I have to admit that I’ve done this with my dog. In my defense, it’s only ever around the neighborhood (usually one or two blocks) and right back to the house. If I’m not quick about it, she’ll jump in the car if I have the door open too long. OTOH I’m not driving to Des Moines with the dog in my lap.

    I have a nine-mile (one way) commute every morning and I’d still like to have fender mounted RPGs on my car for the dozens of people who are fscking texting while driving. Every day, I’m honking at some clown who’s too busy texting when they should be paying attention to the traffic signals.

    Between the two, texting while driving is far more of an issue than Grandpa driving around the neighborhood with Poochie on his lap…

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    That law, were it to get signed, may end up needing to be revoked if technology has its way.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      C’mon, man. You know better than this. No laws get revoked.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And what happens when a cop tries to pull over a car that a dog is driving?… or rather riding, as the car is autonomously taking it to its home from the vet or groomer?

        Or, let’s say some day body modification has a person that looks like a dog or a cat driving a car? (Don’t say ‘impossible’, there’s already one man out there that’s done it. Granted, he’s no longer alive (friends think he suicided) but he’d gone a long way before he did. Look up “stalking cat”

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    A friend’s sister had a nasty head-on wreck with her little mop dog on her lap. The driver had a broken hip and the dog had to be put down…not sure if the dog’s presence added to the driver’s injury but it was a bad scene all around.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I have witnessed it causing a driver to drive erratically. I’m not a “dog hater” (I have a black lab), nor am I for overreaching government, but I don’t see any problem with this.

    And, just for the record, seeing the image of a dog driving a Subaru (or any car) gives me no warm and fuzzies. I think its pretty stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      CincyDavid

      I have to turn away from the Subaru ads where the dog ages and the Subaru just keeps chugging along…loss of pets is HORRIBLE and I don’t care to be reminded of it in a car commercial.

      My wife and I have 2 labradoodle pups, an 80 pound young adult and a 65 lb puppy who is only 6 months old, they ride in the back seat and I don’t generally let them stick their muzzles out the side windows either. Now if I could teach them to jump up in the car we’d be all set…they get picked up and placed in the car. It’s a bad habit my wife taught them and I can’t seem to break them of it.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Also for the record, that dog in the lead image is absolutely adorable.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    As someone who *once* tried driving with a 10-pound cocker-poodle in his lap, I can tell you what a s**t idea that is. It’s a total safety issue. I have no problem with banning it.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    There shouldn’t be a law against this. These are people who need the uninterrupted and immediate comfort of their companion. To limit that comfort in any way is cruel.

    These people need others to see how lovable and smart and attractive their furry surrogates are. They believe their four-legged family members have greater rights to be entertained than anyone else’s rights to safety.

    Notice I didn’t use the word “dog”. These are beings superior to other people.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    This is just BS. My dog is less distracting than the radio, the GPS, a Big Gulp, etc. And it is not between me and the airbag or steering wheel. The fact that people would back nonsense like this is just depressing. But then my brothers and I used to happily ride in the bed of Grandpa’s truck, so there’s that.

    • 0 avatar
      jmp2006

      This law would apply to you operating a vehicle with a dog in your lap. This, by definition, would mean that the dog would be between you and the airbag/steering wheel.

      If you’re in the passenger seat or in the back, nobody gives a crap.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        Wrong! This how stupid laws happen. You do not take into account the size of the dog. If you have an Irish Wolfhound, then I see a problem; Chihauhau or Toy Poodle, then not so much. Small dogs don’t come between driver and steering wheel unless it’s adjusted too low.
        Is there a rash of accidents happening caused by lap dogs?
        There are real safety issues. Why focus on this?
        Reminds of the time I read of a proposal to outlaw spinner wheels because the distracted other drivers. Geesh!

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          +1

        • 0 avatar
          jmp2006

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHuWVc54SLk

          See how far that airbag goes into your lap when it deploys? Tell me again how your dog, no matter how small, won’t be between you and that airbag?

        • 0 avatar
          jmp2006

          https://globalnews.ca/news/2918843/dog-critically-hurt-after-airbags-deploy-in-crash/

          Also, this, in case you think that it doesn’t happen.

          “None of the drivers or human passengers were hurt but the small lap dog suffered significant internal injuries.”

          So, if you are a dog-lover, which I assume that you are, there should be no issue at all with this law because clearly it can hurt the animals quite badly.

          • 0 avatar
            hpycamper

            Knee jerk reactions to a non-issue.
            How about banning sports because some people, and kids, get hurt?
            How about reducing the speed limit everywhere to 25? That should save many lives.
            You’re advocating for a law that will take away a little bit of some people’s, and dog’s, pleasure and accomplish what?
            I have not heard of some huge increase in lap dog related vehicular mayhem.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’m for this, even the sinister Dick Dastardly knew to keep Muttley in the back!

    Around here dogs in the car are a thing (or in the truck bed), it makes people drive super slowly so it is annoying.

    My biggest pet peeve will always be the people who take a dog with them in a super hot day, then go shopping (leaving behind, the dog to dehydrate).

    For the record I’m not a “dog hater” or whatever absurd term dog buffs are using.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Nothing outside the state.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Our vet and trainer both highly recommend ‘tethering’/strapping the dog in when driving. However there is currently no recognized standard for dog seatbelts.

    Either that are using a carrier cage in the back hatch. The rescue group that we used required that.

    Remember the metal grate dividers that used to be quite common predominantly in Volvo wagons to separate the cargo area from the back seat.

    If you are going to let your dog put her/head out the window, then a pair of doggles are highly recommended. Our vet has had many instances of emergencies caused by a dog incurring eye damage when they had their head out of the car window. Not to mention a couple of cases of the dog jumping out, at a stop or red light when they saw a squirrel or something just as interesting.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Jeebus. If a driver is so stupid as to put an animal at the wheel, or lap, or whatever, of a moving automobile at the very least this buys them a night in the graybar motel in my mind. This is how I know its all coming down in my lifetime.

    “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
    – Carlin

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Nothing screams I’M NOT PAYING ATTENTION louder than some halfwit rolling around with a Toilet Brush in their lap.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    It drives me crazy that time and money is spent drafting and possibly implementing laws aimed at narrowly-defined behaviors. This, as well as texting and any number of behaviors, should be covered by existing distracted/reckless driving laws.


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