A New Rhode Island Law Would Boot Dogs From Drivers’ Laps

The cuties are too much of a distraction, kind of like cell phones, say the Rhode Island bill's proponents.


Lap dogs are awesome. But no so much when you’re driving.

At least that’s the notion fueling a bill introduced to the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee. If it ends up passing, the legislation will make it illegal to drive with a dog on your lap, at least in the nation’s smallest state.

Similar legislation is being considered in Tennessee.

A recent AAA survey found that 21 percent of dog owners allow their dog to sit on their lap while they (the owners, not the dogs) drive. It would be recipe for instant disaster if I were to allow 90-pound Jake to do sit on my lap on a drive – or any time, really. But I can see the temptation for people with tiny dogs whose mission in life is to hang out on laps and enjoy life.

In 2008, California actually passed a law banning dogs in drivers’ laps, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it because it wasn’t “high priority” among 95 other pieces of legislation he had to consider. That legislation had been dubbed the “The Paris Hilton Bill,” and was inspired when a lawmaker saw a woman driving with three dogs in her lap.

While some little dogs and their people probably love the camaraderie of sharing the driver’s seat, I can definitely see where it could be a hazard. A friend of a friend was driving with her Yorkie, and the dog plopped onto the floor when they were driving down a steep San Francisco hill. Part of him ended up under the brake. She was able to use her emergency brake to avoid getting out of control while heading down the hill, but it could have ended tragically.

Since we have so many readers with all sizes of dog and all forms of opinion, I would love to get your input: Do you drive with your dog on your lap? What do you think about the practice? Is driving with a dog on your lap as potentially hazardous as some think, and as my friend’s friend demonstrated? Are you for or against this kind of “lapislation”?

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Newser.com

Unlapped lap dog photo via Shutterstock

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