New Illinois Law: Dog Owners Could Get $50 Fine For Doing This
It may be cute, but when you look at the results of a driver's survey where 31% of drivers with pets said they have been distracted by their pets while driving, and 20% of drivers who have admitted to driving with the pet on their lap have been involved in accidents, it's not hard to see that there might be a problem.
However, if Illinois House Bill 2910 (HB2910) ends up being passed into law, you'll probably see a lot less of it happening, unless drivers don't mind handing over fifty bucks if they're caught doing it.
A Similar Bill Here In Illinois Back In 2013 Didn't Make It To The Governor's Desk To Be Signed Into Law And Faded Away In Committee
That particular bill, House Bill 1581 (HB1581), hoped to create a new violation for drivers who operate motor vehicles with an animal in their lap, with a potential fine of twenty-five dollars.
But that bill had, in my opinion anyway, a very strange exception built into it (ILGA.gov):
...prohibits drivers from holding an animal in their lap while driving unless the driver is operating a commercial motor vehicle or agricultural motor vehicle.
Wait, what? No animals in your lap while driving unless it's a commercial or agricultural motor vehicle? I looked up the definition of commercial motor vehicle, and was surprised to learn the U.S. Department of Transportation defines it like this:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous
So our lawmakers were not cool with an animal in your lap in your car or pickup, but they were totally cool with you doing it while driving a tractor, combine, bus, truck, or while transporting hazardous materials? Really?
If HB 2910 Does Become Law, There's No Exceptions To The Rule, And The Fine Goes Up From The Previous Bill's $25 Limit To $50
The bill’s sponsor, Illinois State Representative Jawaharial Williams, D-Chicago, also points out that it doesn't just apply to you and your dog (hat tip Patch.com):
“The new law would allow police officers to pull you over if they see that you are driving with an animal in your lap, whatever the animal may be,” Williams said.
You know who else doesn't like it when people drive with their dog in their lap? That's right, The Dog Whisperer: