As part of New Jersey’s Click It or or Ticket campaign, drivers are getting a reminder about the potentially hefty fines they’ll face if they’re caught driving with an unrestrained pet.
Under New Jersey Statute 4:22-18, having an unrestrained pet in a vehicle is considered animal cruelty, and drivers who don’t have them restrained will be subject to fines that range from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.
“That’s for each offense,” said Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “So, if you have more than one animal loose in your car, just do the math…”
The rationale behind the fines is safety, since officials believe that unrestrained animals can become a dangerous distraction and potentially cause an accident injuring drivers and themselves.
“What people come to realize only too late is that animals act like flying missiles in an impact and can not only hurt themselves but hurt their human family members, too,” said Rizzo.
While some states have laws to stop people from driving with pets in their laps or in the back of pickup trucks, New Jersey is the first to require restraints under an animal cruelty law. However, the statute in question is vague and doesn’t specifically say, or even imply, anything about restraints, only stating that animals should not be carried in a vehicle in a “cruel or inhumane manner.”
Incidentally, a ticket for a person not wearing a seat belt is only $46. In regards to distracted driving, the fine for texting while driving is only $100, although lawmakers are trying to double it.
Is just another intrusive money-making scheme for the state, or will it actually help keep pets safe? Do you drive with your pets restrained?
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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