$1000 Fine for Pets Without Seat Belts

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?

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago


Argelia Blanco
Argelia Blanco5 years ago

The rest of the states should follow New Jersey's lead. Yes, pets should be restrained in all vehicles for everyone's safety. In addition, the fines for human non-compliance should be raised to equal the fine for pets. Maybe it will force people to be more responsible when driving. A large fine will make them think twice before breaking the law and possibly causing an accident. It is sad, however, that people have to be pushed into doing something that is really common sense. Unfortunately, common sense isn't that common.

Faither Jo H.
Jo Ellen H5 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Can they stop people from having dogs in back of trucks?

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M5 years ago

Both my dogs have harnesses which attach to the seatbelts. The cats are in carriers. I strictly enforce this especially after hearing that if you are in an accident, with your dog, the paramedics/police have the right to shoot the dog to get to you if they feel the dog is a threat to them. A very scary thought of some trigger happy cop shooting my dogs. I also do it for the dogs' safety. (The kids are in seatbelts/car seats) However, I would like to propose a question to the rocket scientists in NJ who came up with this fine system: Since any BODY-a baby, child, adult, dog, cat-can be a distraction or become a flying missile on impact, just how is it that the fine for an unrestrained PET is up to $1000/6 mon in jail; whereas a human failing to wear a seatbelt is $46; texting $100! Hmmm,,,a little bias here? Now what is more distracting-that unrestrained, screaming toddler, or that teenager texting, or the sleeping poodle in the backseat? And what is more of a missile-that 250 lb passenger or the 20 lb dog? Every BODY needs to be restrained; no texting (fines should be $1000!) and the same fines for everyone-human or animal! What stupidity.

Bob Stuart
Bob Stuart5 years ago

Some dogs need cages for safety, but this is absurd, if no other load is required to be secured. Go chase the crooks at the top, instead of beating on people for common behaviour.

Ms. JL M5 years ago

Not ONLY do I drive with my cats in carriers, I belt the carriers in! I'm more worried about THEIR welfare than mine, to be honest. I know what's what. They don't understand. I see it the way I see keeping small children safe.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago

I see this all the time--it's very dangerous to have pets loose in the care while driving.

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan5 years ago

Very sensible. Thanks.