Driving With Your Dog In Your Lap May Soon Be Illegal

Today, it seems like dogs can come with us everywhere - airplanes, restaurants, malls, etc. We love to take them with us whenever possible, and they are often considered part of the family. They’re man’s best friend! But soon, dogs may not be allowed in the driver’s seat of a car. A newly proposed Michigan law would make it illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a dog riding in their lap.

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According to Click on Detroit, House Bill 5277 was introduced in the Michigan State House on November 28, 2017 by Detroit Democratic Representative LaTanya Grant. The bill clearly states that, “an individual shall not operate a motor vehicle while a dog is sitting in his or her lap." The only exception would be for cases in which the dog must be in the driver’s lap for medical purposes, and the driver would need to have American Disability Act paperwork to prove that it is necessary.

Should the bill become law, drivers would be fined $100 for their first offense, and $200 for every offense thereafter. Rep. Grant said that, “this is about making sure Michigan drivers are safe. It's just too much going on when a driver really needs to be focused on the road. Two seconds of being distracted can cost lives, it can be very fatal."

Detroit Dog Crash Lawyer

Currently, laws regarding dogs, and all animals for that matter, in vehicles, are a bit of a grey area. Michigan State Police spokesperson Shannon Banner told MLive that Michigan legislature currently prohibits transporting an animal in a vehicle, “without providing a secure space, rack, car, crate, or cage, in which livestock may stand, and in which all other animals may stand, turn around, and lie down during transportation." But the definition of what exactly a, “secure space” is, is open to interpretation, and is usually determined on a case by case basis.

Many view the issue of driving with a dog on your lap as a form of distracted driving. The dog could potentially block the driver’s view of windows, and hinder the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle - both of which are actions that could result in a car crash. If this bill passes, it will be the first law in the State of Michigan to directly address driving with a dog in your lap.

In the meantime, laws regarding safe driving still exist. When you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for maintaining safe operation of your vehicle by following proper use of lanes and maintaining control of the vehicle. Both of these driving responsibilities can be hindered by riding with a dog in your lap. In other words, while you cannot currently be ticketed for driving with a dog in your lap, if doing so causes you to practice unsafe driving, you can be ticketed for that.

The proposed bill has been turned over to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for further review. In the meantime, think twice before you let the family pet ride in your lap. It’s likely that having a dog in your lap hinders your driving abilities to some degree. Let the dog ride shotgun, or on the floor, or in the backseat. In fact, make sure the dog is safe in a moving vehicle by using a pet harness that prevents it from getting injured in the event of a car accident. There are plenty of alternatives to having a dog in your lap, and the petting and cuddles can wait until you reach your destination. For more information about pet passenger safety, check out The Michigan Law Firm, PC blog!


Driving with a dog sitting on your lap may encourage distracted driving, and distracted driving can lead to fatal car crashes. If you have been involved in a distracted driving automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our accident attorneys are highly experinced in helping victims of car accidents identiy and collect any benegits they may be entitled to. For a free legal consultation, call 844.4MI.FIRM.

Four-Legged Driver Crashes Car Into Grocery Store

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In Wayne, West Virginia last summer, witnesses saw a car rolling towards and eventually crashing into a grocery store. When they ran to the car to see what happened, however, they were in for a surprise. According to CNN, witnesses spotted two dogs in the car all by themselves. The pups were the ones who "drove" into the grocery store!

The owner of the vehicle had left the car running to keep her dogs cool while she ran into the grocery store. While she was in the store, the dogs somehow switched the car into drive and went rolling straight for all those groceries. They must have been enticed by the smell of food inside! 

Luckily, the car didn’t go too far, as it came to a stop after hitting a concrete pillar near the storefront. Witnesses ran to the car hoping that everybody was alright, which is when they discovered that it was actually a dog in the driver’s seat. Some said that the entire car accident played out just like a cartoon. 

Thankfully, both the car and the store had little damage, and no charges have been filed against the car owner. The dogs got home safely thanks to their owner, who drove them home after the incident.

Pet Car Safety Lawyer Michigan

Though two dogs accidentally operating a vehicle and causing an accident is a funny and unusual story, it can also teach a valuable lesson. Unlikely situations such as this, though more frequent in cartoons, can happen in real life. While it isn’t safe to leave dogs locked in a car with no air, as the car can quickly get too hot for the dogs in the scorching summer heat, it also isn’t smart to leave the car running without a human inside. After all, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog recently informed it's readers about the seriousness of storefront car crashes and how most barriers currently don't stop cars from rolling forward. It's possible for pets who are left inside cars to accidentally change gears, or a stranger could recognize that the car is running and take off with the car and pets. It is important to take care of one's own vehicle at all times, so as to ensure safety for everyone.


Luckily, neither humans nor dogs were injured in this bizarre accident and not much damage was done to the store or the vehicle. However, car accidents are not funny and can cause serious injury to drivers and all passengers, including pets. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Fourth Of July Travel Safety Tips

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As the Fourth of July, one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, approaches, many American families are preparing to travel to celebrate this patriotic day. Thousands of people take to the roads on Independence Day, contributing to what U.S. News describes as “the busiest summer travel holiday.” This year, the holiday weekend will extend longer than normal, from Friday, June 30th to Tuesday, July 4th, when AAA Travel says a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home. As a result, drivers need to extra careful when traveling on the roads over the longer weekend, since other drivers may have over-indulged in celebratory beverages at barbecues and parties.

To avoid being involved in a motor vehicle accident, travelers may want to follow the Fourth of July Travel Safety Tips below, recommended by TODAY:

  • Follow basic safety practices. Wearing seatbelts, using helmets, being mindful of speed limits, and remembering to not drink and drive can go a long way to keeping roads safe.
  • Take preventative measures. Check oil levels and tire pressure, along with coolant levels, because cars may overheat when stuck in traffic. Car owners may also benefit from a check-up with a mechanic, prior to a long road trip, to examine vehicles for any unusual problems that might impede driving vacation.
  • Plan trips with timing in mind. If it can be helped, it can be safer to travel a few days before or a few days after the Fourth of July, as the days closer to the holiday tend to be more congested.
  • Keep a safe following distance. Stay three seconds or more behind the car, truck, or motorcycle in front of you. This will allow you enough time to brake if you need to stop suddenly.
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  • Minimize distractions. Keep phones put away and out of reach, leave snacks and drinks in the cooler, and turn the radio stations on before leaving the driveway. If mobile devices absolutely must be in the car, hand them to a passenger to control or utilize one of these safety apps researched by The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC to help prevent a deadly collision from distracted driving. Besides these distractions, road trips also call for additional reasons to focus on the road. Arguments, even if they are in the backseat, may make drivers anxious or cause them to take their eyes and ears off the road. Pets, along for the vacation, should be kept inside a carrier or fascinated into pet-specific seat belts, so as not to jump into the front seat and distract the driver. Additionally, loose items like sunglasses and maps might fall from the dashboard or overhead sun visors, startling drivers enough to threaten the safety of everyone in the car.
  • Know where you are going. Look up directions for road trip routes beforehand, making a plan for the hours spent on the road. Enlist a passenger to help navigate, so that the driver can focus on getting to the destination safely. Remember not to look at a phone screen for distractions while also behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  
  • Get plenty of rest. Prior to traveling over the Independence Day weekend, don’t forget to sleep in the midst of packing and planning. Lack of sleep can lead to drowsiness while driving, which is a risk factor for severe car crashes. Car drivers should take frequent breaks and rotate drivers if necessary.
Michigan Car Crash Attorney

The Fourth of July can be fun for everyone, as it is a day off work to enjoy the summer weather, cook out in backyards, and swim in the lake. Holiday road trips are a great way to bond with family and friends, and visit destinations, both new locales and well-loved spots. However, drivers must always be cautious of their surroundings, especially during such a busy time for travelers. Keep flashes of red, white, and blue to the fireworks in the sky instead of blinking on top of police cars. There is no doubt which would make the Founding Fathers more proud.


The 4th of July is a day to celebrate freedom for all people in the United States of America. Driving is a privilege not a freedom. Don't take advantage of the holiday as a reason to drive dangerously, drunkenly, or distractedly this upcoming Independence Day weekend. If you or someone you know has been a victim of an automobile collision, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Plymouth, MI Automotive Supplier Aims To Change Pet Travel Safety

Plymouth Michigan Car Crash Lawyer

Last week, The Michigan Law Firm blog informed readers about The American Humane Society's tips for driving safely with pets in the vehicle. One of the tips was to belt or restrain animals so that they can't distract the driver.

While innovations in the field of human car safety are being produced seemingly every day, pet travel safety has been largely unstudied and is lacking data in the automotive industry. However, Johnson Controls in Plymouth, Michigan tells The Detroit Free Press that they are aiming to change the way drivers travel with their pets. The company has brainstormed ideas on how to engineer seats and devices that can protect pets and their owners while riding in a vehicle. 

Pet Safety Laws

Pet vehicle safety lacks guidelines and regulations since the government has yet to pass any into law. This is very concerning to the 53% of dog owners who have traveled with their pet, at least once a month, over the past year, according to a study conducted by Kurgo.   

“Cars are developed for people; they aren't developed for dogs," said Lindsey Wolko, the chairman of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia. "We have to get to the point we can have solutions that work for both. Dogs are the number 1 traveling companion, and they have little protection in the marketplace."

Pet Travel Statistics

The American Humane Society (AHS) estimates that around 100,000 dogs die in car accidents each year due to riding in truck beds. This estimate doesn’t include dogs that have jumped from vehicle windows or those that were improperly restrained - if at all - during a car collision. The number is hard to determine when most accidents involving a pet's death are rarely reported. Sadly, there are even fewer statistics and data available concerning cats and their safety and fatality rate involving car accidents.

An article in USA Today highlighted the chilling facts that most dog restraints fail. So, it comes as no surprise that a whopping 84% of dog owners do not use restraints when traveling with their dog.

Animal Car Crash Lawyer

Not only do most pet owners not bother with restraints, but Kurgo’s survey lists that 65% of drivers admitted to engaging in at least one distracted activity while they were driving with their pet, such as feeding them treats, trying to take a picture of the animal, or tying to pet the animal. Any of these distracted driving behaviors are serious issues when considering that a driver traveling with their pet could get into an automobile accident. Pets can be a major safety risk due since they can cause distractions leading to car accidents and since they can easily be tossed out a car and killed instantly in an accident, thereby possibly distracting other drivers on the road and causing them to get hurt too.

The Future of Pet Travel Safety

For now, Johnson Controls is still conducting their research by using pets volunteered by their employees, and observing the way pets enter and exit a vehicle and watching how they move around inside the vehicle.  

“We want to understand the future of pet travel safety — and what it should look like," Wolko said. "Because of the work Johnson Controls has done with seating development in automobiles, this could lead to a whole new world of pet safety."


Wolko has pointed out the importance of supplying proper animal safety restraining devices for those motorists who travel with their pets. If pets don't have proper restraints while on the road, their owners are leaving themselves, their pets, and innocent bystanders at risk of getting into a serious auto accident. Hopefully, the public won't have to wait long for Wolko to invent or improve on restraining devices used to secure pets in vehicles. Have you or a loved one been involved in a motor vehicle collision involving a pet? Call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844. 4MI.FIRM for a free consultation today.