Hop In, Fido! Is It Illegal to Drive With Pets in Your Lap in New Jersey?
If you're a pet owner, especially a dog owner, chances are your fur baby LOVES to go for car rides. Sometimes they'll even get it in their heads that they can help you drive - by climbing in your lap! An endearing image, no doubt.
There's a TikTok video I saw a while ago that's one of my favorites. It makes me smile every time. A driver pulls up next to a car at a stop light and rolls down her window to address the other car. Why? Because she sees an adorable weiner dog sitting its owner's lap in the driver's seat, and she just has to say hello the adorable furry angel. The lap dog's owner then pulls up another weiner dog, seemingly out of nowhere, to say hello too. Chaotic adoration ensues. Check out the video below!
I've seen similar situations like this in New Jersey, so that got me thinking...IS it illegal to drive with pets in your lap in New Jersey? The answer is... Yes.
According to PetCareRX, it is illegal to transport your pet unsafely, unrestrained, in your car in New Jersey, as well as Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut and Arizona, under distracted driving laws. In New Jersey, you can face a fine between $250-$1000 for failing to safely restrain your pet in the car.
Which is less fun, but it makes sense. And it's for the better. Remember all those lessons we learned in school about the importance of wearing your seatbelt? The same goes for your pets. If an accident were to occur (God forbid), it would dangerous for both you and your pet... but especially your pet. Not just dangerous, but fatal too.
As fun as it is to let your pet(s) stick their head out the window with no restraints or be an "assistant driver" in your lap, be careful. Yes, it happens all the time. Afterall, it's such a joyful image that brings so much happiness. But be warned, it IS illegal in New Jersey to let your beloved pets roam freely, unsecured in the car.
Sorry, Fido. It's for your own good.