By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’re thinking of taking a road trip with your favorite family member—your dog—in the car, there are laws you’ll need to know.
A Texas police officer was handing a ticket to a driver last month when the driver’s monkey chomped down on the cop’s hand. That bites. Getting the ticket, that is – which you could be facing even if you don’t have a monkey.
A Triple-A survey found that, of all drivers who said they’d driven with their dogs in the car, 21 percent admitted to keeping the dog on their lap while driving, and 31 percent said they had been distracted by their pet, regardless of where the pet had been in the car.
New Jersey became one of the first states to ticket drivers up to $1000 for keeping unrestrained animals in the front seat of the car, on the driver’s lap, partially out the window, or even in the back of a pickup truck. Other states are beginning to follow suit. Hawaii law prevents drivers from keeping pets on their lap, and in Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut, distracted driving laws can be used to charge drivers distracted by their pets. Rhode Island and Tennessee are also considering measures to prevent unrestrained animals.
In all other states, there are no laws about pets in the car. But, even in states with no laws on the subject, there’s no state that explicitly prevents you from using your common sense to tell you that if you love your pet like a family member, treat him like one and buckle him up or it may come back to bite you.