Is this illegal?  Driving with an unrestrained dog in the car?  Well it depends on who you ask.

There are lots of articles on line claiming that driving with an unrestrained dog in the car is illegal, like this one.

Now sure, it is a bad idea to have a dog lolling around your car when any projectile over 1 kilogram is potentially fatal (for you) in a crash, but that is a different question.



So is it illegal?

It actually isn't illegal.

Driving with a dog in your lap is illegal.


Many people are surprised by this.  You can read the legislation by clicking on the link above, or you can see what RMS has to say about animals and vehicles here.

Driving with a dog impeding your vision or control of the vehicle (or anything impeding your vision of control of the vehicle) is illegal.  Having an unrestrained animal is not, in and of itself, illegal.



Why isn't it illegal?

Well we are not politicians, but probably because the associated regulations about what is a suitable restraint for an animal would require too much time to debate.  For instance, can you put a cat or a lizard in a cage and put a seatbelt around the cage, or do you have to have a separate restraint around the animal and have it sit on the seat?

According to this NRMA article, one study found that many dog restraints on the market didn't actually restrain the dog even at speeds of 20km/h or 35km/h.  The associated costs of creating legislation and then a testing system around appropriate dog restraints probably make it unlikely that there will ever be a law about this.



So I can drive with an unrestrained dog?

Not really.

On the face of it, the simple fact that the dog is unrestrained is not illegal.

However, go back to what the legislation does say.

A driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver.

It is unlikely that an unrestrained dog will not, at some point during the trip, impede your clear view around the vehicle.  It is likely that if you drive with an unrestrained dog in the car, the dog will do something that obstructs your clear view.

The fine is $448 and three demerit points, a higher fine and an extra demerit point apply in school zones.  Even if you think your dog is well behaved don't risk it.



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