Is It Legal to Drive With an Animal on Your Lap?

Is It Legal to Drive With an Animal on Your Lap?

Pretty much every pet owner out there has a furry companion that they would do everything they can for. Some pet owners love their critters so much that they take them everywhere they go. This seems like a harmless and fun way for a person to spend time with their beloved companion, however it can be dangerous and even illegal in some states.

Laws from Across the Country

Across the nation, different states have different rules about how pets can be transported in cars. This can make driving through different states with a furry companion that much harder. Any driver looking to take their pet somewhere, especially on road trips, needs to be aware of these laws. If they aren’t, they could inadvertently end up in trouble with the law.

Some states, such as Hawaii and Arizona, have specific laws that make it illegal to drive with a pet in the person’s lap or in the driver’s immediate vicinity. Other states such as Maine and Connecticut can use their state’s distracted driving laws against drivers with pets on their lap.

The state of New Jersey takes things a step further. In this state, officers can stop any driver who improperly transports an animal, such as driving with the animal in their lap, and charge the person with animal cruelty. A person found guilty of this can face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 dollars and can even face up to 6 months of jail time.

California Law

Here in California, the laws surrounding the transportation of animals are surprisingly lax. The state only has one law regarding the transportation of animals in vehicles, and it applies to pick-up trucks.

Vehicle Code (VC) 23117 states that no driver should transport an animal in the back of a vehicle in a space intended for any load unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks that are at least 46 inches high, has installed means of preventing the animal from getting out, or the animal is in a cage.

Basically, this means an animal can’t be carried in the bed of a truck unless the sides of the truck are higher than 46 inches, the animal is tied to the bed of the truck, or the animal is in a cage of some sort. This means that as long as an animal is in an enclosed space, such as the interior of the car, they are being transported safely and correctly.

This law does not apply to the transportation of livestock or the transportation of a ranch dog for ranching/farming purposes.

The consequences of breaking this law for the first time come with a fine ranging from $50 to $100. A second or any subsequent offense within a year will earn a person a fine ranging from $75 to $200.

Why These Laws Exist

The important fact to remember is that these laws exist for safety reasons. Transporting the animal safely keeps not only the critter safe, but the driver as well. A pet owner wants to make sure that in the event of an accident, their companion stays safe. This means keeping it safe and secure in the vehicle.

On top of the pet’s safety, there is the driver’s safety to consider as well. Everyone knows how dangerous distracted driving can be. What people may not realize is just how many things can be considered distracted driving besides using cellphones. Having to deal with a pet, especially one that is on the driver’s lap, can be very distracting. If the driver becomes too engrossed in whatever their pet is doing in their car, they could cause an accident.

What do you think of all of these different takes on laws surrounding the transportation of animals? Which state has your favorite law and which one takes things too far? Does California need to update its own animal transportation and distracted driving laws?

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Reckless Driving in California

Reckless Driving in California

With the millions of people here in California driving every single day, it should come as no surprise that there thousands of car accidents daily. Sometimes the accidents couldn’t be avoided, and other times the accidents are caused by a person driving their vehicle in a dangerous fashion.

What many people fail to realize is that driving recklessly is actually a crime here in the state of California. It becomes even more of a crime when that reckless driving causes an accident and someone gets hurt. In order to keep people safe, and to avoid getting a ticket, drivers need to follow the rules of the road.

California’s Reckless Driving Laws

Here in California, Vehicle Code (VC) 23103 is the law against reckless driving. This law prohibits a person from driving with wanton disregard for the safety of people and property. This is due to the fact that a person driving recklessly is more likely to cause an accident. That is something no one wants to deal with, so lawmakers tried to discourage that kind of behavior by making it illegal.

All sorts of different acts can be considered reckless driving, ranging from speeding and swerving through traffic, all the way down to eating or applying makeup while driving.

If someone else, other than the driver, is injured in an accident caused by reckless driving, then the driver will get into even more trouble. This is regardless if the reckless driver caused the accident. After all, the whole point of the law is to prevent that from happening in the first palace.

Aside from reckless driving being illegal, the act of recording reckless driving, or even just intending to record reckless driving, is illegal. This is done under VC 40008. This law makes it illegal to record reckless driving for commercial purposes.

The Penalties for Reckless Driving

VC 23103 is a wobbler offense, meaning that when someone is accused of driving recklessly, they face either misdemeanor or felony charges. The severity of the charges depend on whether or not someone, other than the driver, was seriously hurt or if property was damaged.

If there were no injuries, than the driver faces misdemeanor charges that come with:

• Up to 90 days in county jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.
• Misdemeanor probation.

If there were minor injuries to a third party, which can include a passenger in the driver’s vehicle, people in other vehicles, or a pedestrian, then the driver will face misdemeanor charges that come with:

• Up to 6 months in county jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.

If someone suffered any serious injuries, the driver can face either misdemeanor or felony charges. What the driver will face is dependent on how the prosecution goes after the case, or if the driver had a prior conviction for reckless driving, exhibition of speed, or DUI. If charged as a felony, the driver will face:

• 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail.
• A max fine of $10,000.

If someone is killed because of the reckless driving, then the driver could face vehicular manslaughter or even second-degree murder charges.

If a person is accused of breaking VC 40008 for recording reckless driving, they will face misdemeanor charges. This comes with:

• Up to 6 months in county jail.
• A max fine of $2,500.

However, if a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of the incident, the charges go up to:

• Up to 1 year in county jail.
• A max fine of $5,000.


Drive Safely and Avoid a Ticket

Driving recklessly can be done in all sorts of ways, and it is always dangerous. That is why there is a law against reckless driving. Lawmakers didn’t want anyone to get hurt because a driver didn’t take the time to consider other people.

When driving from one place to another, a driver needs to consider everyone else that they are passing by on the road. Speeding, swerving across lanes, and distracted driving put not only the driver, but everyone else, at risk. One small mistake can lead to an accident with deadly consequences. If that happens, the driver will likely face harsher consequences than just driving recklessly.

What do you think of California’s reckless driving laws? Are they justified, or do their consequences need to be readjusted? Let us know what you think and remember to drive safely.

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When the Wind Stops Stoplights

When the Wind Stops Stoplights

With the arrival of fall in California comes lots of windy weather. Typically, this just means a lot of dust and leaves everywhere. Unfortunately, for many people this year, this also means a loss of power. This is due to the controlled blackouts being issued by power companies like Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

After being found responsible for several of the recent large wildfires which plagued the state, these utilities companies are being extra cautious with their equipment. This means that if there is any chance that thigh winds could down a power line and spark a blaze, they will shut off power to large portions of towns for several hours. This can be very annoying for homeowners, but it can cause unforeseen danger to drivers.

When the Lights Go Out

Most of the modern world runs off of electricity and so when utility companies shut off their power for any length of time, a lot of things come grinding to a halt. One of the many important things that are affected by this loss of power is traffic.

When the power goes off, the all-important traffic signals that govern our intersections stop working. This can make driving through city streets feel impossible and crazy. Drivers are so used having their routes dictated to them by these little lights, that when they are taken away, some people seem to have no idea how to drive.

Coming across a stoplight that is completely off, with no colored lights showing in any direction, can be startling, but they are actually easy to deal with. Anytime a person approaches an intersection with a traffic light that is either flashing red, or off altogether, they need to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

This means that whenever anyone approaches the intersection, no matter which way they are going, they need to stop. Basically imagine that each direction of the intersection has an invisible stop sign. Follow basic stop sign etiquette and right-of-way laws from there.

This means coming to a complete stop behind the white limit line, which is usually the outer line of a crosswalk. Look both ways for traffic. If another vehicle is already stopped at the intersection before coming to a full stop, that vehicle gets to go first. Cars take turns proceeding and should do so with caution, as not every driver will realize they need to stop for a broken or unpowered stop light.

Consequences of Running through a Down Intersection

Aside from the obvious consequences of possibly getting into a car accident just to save 5 seconds of travel time, there can also be legal consequences. A person could possibly face infraction level charges under California Vehicle (VC) 21453, running a red light, or even VC 22450, failing to stop at a stop sign. Both of these charges come with no jail time, a small fine, and a point on the driver’s record.

Just as likely as those charges, a person could be charged with reckless driving under VC 23101. This is California’s reckless driving law, which makes it illegal for a driver to operate their vehicle with wanton disregard for the health and safety of others. That is what a person does when they ignore a traffic light, on or off. This can earn a person a misdemeanor charge that comes with:

• Up to 90 days in county jail.
• A fine from $145 to $1,000.
• 2 points on the driver’s record.

Remember, acquiring too many points on a driver’s record too quickly can lead to their driver’s license being suspended, and eventually, revoked altogether.

Just Slow Down and Take Your Time

Coming across a down traffic light during a blackout may be shocking or confusing, but it is actually a really simple hurdle to deal with. Whenever a traffic light is down, just treat the intersection like it is governed by stop signs in all directions. As long as everyone stops and takes turns, everyone can get through the intersection relatively quickly without getting into any trouble.

While this may not be fun, and can increase travel times, it is best to get prepared to deal with this again. As fall and the windy weather continues, it is safe to assume that so will the controlled blackouts. This means that drivers will have plenty of chances to come across unpowered stoplights this season.

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