New Distracted Driving Law Takes Aim at Those Who Drive with Pets in Their Laps

The perils of texting while driving are clear, but what about petting while driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in America, approximately nine people die every day in car accidents involving a distracted driver. In an effort to protect its citizens, the village of Mantua, Ohio, has crafted a new distracted driver law that punishes not only texters, but pet owners too, reports WJW.

Starting Dec. 20, the Mantua Police Department can cite drivers who are operating a vehicle with a pet in their lap, as well as drivers who are distracted by a pet in their car.

Under this new distracted driver law, which also punishes those found sending, reading or writing a text message while driving, the first citation is a minor misdemeanor, unless the distraction causes an accident. If your dog causes you to crash, you will receive at least a misdemeanor of the third degree in Mantua. Drivers will also receive a misdemeanor of the third degree if the are caught driving with a pet in their lap for the second time in one year.

There are few laws in the country that prohibit pet owners from driving with an animal in their lap. According to Parade, the state of Hawaii has a law that “explicitly forbids you from driving with a dog in your lap.” As part of the state’s animal cruelty laws, New Jersey also fines drivers for operating a vehicle with an unrestrained animal aboard. Like Mantua, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have language in various laws (either a distracted driving or animal rights laws) that prohibits driving with an animal in your lap.

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