I see a lot of people driving with their pets on their laps. Is this legal, or can a ticket be issued for distracted driving?

Ronald, from St. Joseph

To put it simply, no it is not illegal to drive with your pet on your lap. But it is very dangerous. As of now, Michigan Law 257.602b focuses heavily on prohibiting a driver of a motor vehicle from “reading, manually typing, or sending text messages while driving.” 

Per the Michigan State Police website, there are three types of distractions:

• Visual: taking your eyes off the road;

• Manual: taking your hands off the wheel;

• Cognitive: taking your mind off of what you’re doing.

If a driver has a dog sitting on their lap while driving it can easily cause the driver to take their hands off the wheel to reposition the dog.

This could lead to the driver taking their eyes off the road and focusing on the dog and not the road.

In 2017 House Bill 5277 was introduced to the legislature to prohibit dogs on the laps of Michigan drivers. At this time, no bill has been signed into law.