Can my dog sit in the driver's lap?
My wife and I have this ongoing debate about our dog, Skipper. He loves to sit in our laps most of the time, but he’s really fond of sitting in my lap when I’m driving. My wife won’t allow Skipper in her lap when she’s driving, but I say, what’s the harm? My wife says it’s dangerous. But Skipper just sits there peering ahead and doesn’t interfere with the steering wheel or impede my ability to safely drive the car. I almost think he believes he’s driving the car. So, who’s right, Skipper and me, or my wife?
— Dave S., Medford
We generally don’t like to be put in the middle of a marital dispute, Dave, but in this case we have to say something because you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
According to state law, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while doing anything that might obstruct your ability to drive.
Basically, you should be able to see in all directions and manage all operations of the vehicle unimpeded by anything that might get in your way.
If a cop sees you with Skipper in your lap, you could be eligible for a citation, Dave.
Oregon Revised Statute 815.270 has a number of points that might apply to this situation, including having something that interferes with the control of the driving mechanism or preventing the free, unhampered operation of the vehicle by the driver.
Also, Dave, your car probably has air bags, so you’re also putting you and your pooch in danger if the bags deploy.
We know you love Skipper, but you would blame yourself if he was crushed into your chest in a collision.
For the sake of your marriage, we suggest you tell your wife that she’s right and that this is the only time in your life when you were 100-percent wrong. Skipper is also wrong when he thinks he’s actually driving the car.
By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.
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