Can You Be Fined For Driving With A Dog In Your Lap In Illinois?
It's entirely possible that someone reading this will find themselves offended by my position on dogs sitting in the lap of someone driving a vehicle. That might be because many people can get their back up over the suggestion that they (and worse yet, their pet) might be doing something dangerous and dumb while in the car together.
We've got two dogs at home ourselves, so it certainly isn't me having a problem with dogs. Our two dogs weigh a collective 200-plus pounds, so the idea of them sitting in my lap while I'm out and about has very little appeal. Getting my crotch crushed and then potentially smashing up my car or someone else's car gets a big no from me.
In my opinion, driving with a living, breathing, moving creature in your lap, no matter what their size, is just a bad idea. But is it illegal in Illinois?
Early In 2023, A Bill Was Introduced In Springfield That Would Have Made It Illegal To Drive Illinois' Roads With A Pet In Your Lap, And It Included A $50 Fine
That bill, House Bill 2910 (HB2910), sponsored by Illinois state Representative Jawaharial Williams, failed to pass once it hit the House floor, not unlike a similar bill put forth back in 2013 here in Illinois. Mr. Williams says that he's not giving up, and plans to re-introduce the bill. Only two other states have specific legislation against driving with a pet in your lap, and that's Hawaii and New Jersey.
So, there's your bottom line. It's not illegal to drive with your dog in your lap in Illinois...but (and there's always a but) that doesn't mean that you're not going to find yourself in trouble for doing it.
The Dog In Your Lap As You Drive Scenario Isn't Illegal, But Do You Know What Is? Distracted Driving, That's What
The Illinois Secretary Of State's Office says that they consider driving with a pet in your lap to be distracted driving, and that is something you can be ticketed and fined for.
From their office:
Do you do any of these things while driving?
- Text or read messages on your mobile device
- Talk on your mobile device
- Adjust your vehicle GPS
- Adjust the radio/music
- Handle children or pets
- Apply makeup or look at yourself in the rearview mirror
If you perform any of these, you are driving while distracted and are 23 times more likely to cause a vehicle crash.