Having a pet loose in the vehicle or on the driver’s lap during a commute is not only dangerous but can lead to various hefty fines.
Police “strongly discourage” having pets on your lap or running around inside the vehicle while driving, said Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer for the Saanich Police Department.
He explained that while pets can technically be loose in the vehicle, once they are distracting the driver or obstructing safe operation of the vehicle, tickets can be issued.
Anything on the driver’s lap that obstructs their safe operation of the vehicle can result in a $109 ticket for driving while control is obstructed – a B.C. Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) violation, Anastasiades explained. He said the ticket – one he’s issued many times – also comes with three penalty points on the driver’s record which results in a Driver Penalty Point premium through ICBC.
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Having a large dog in the passenger seat blocking the window could lead to a ticket for driving while the view is obstructed – another ticket that costs $109 and three penalty points, Anastasiades said.
A driver trying to control a pet running around in the vehicle may receive a $368 ticket for driving without due care and attention. This offence comes with six penalty points.
“The number one focus should be on driving,” Anastasiades said.
Violating the MVA is not only costly but could be dangerous for the pet, he said, pointing out that even minor collisions can deploy the airbags which can lead to minor injuries for drivers but serious injuries for small pets.
Anastasiades emphasized that police officers’ goal is not to hand out tickets but to educate people, prevent injury and avoid the violations altogether.
Drivers should take precautions to protect those inside the vehicle and on the road around them, he said. For the pet’s safety and the safety of others, they should be in a crate or tethered in the backseat –“belted-in is best.”