New Hampshire is the only state in the US that allows adults to drive without wearing seatbelts and currently has no laws against having a lapdog while driving. This has caused state Rep. Jennifer Rhodes to propose a bill that would make it illegal to drive with “an animal of any size on their person.” This bill has caused much debate and has been met with both opposition and support.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought that this would become one of the more controversial bills of the session, but by God, here we are,” Rep. Rhodes, who sponsored the bill, reportedly said.
Hawaii is the only state that specifically prohibits drivers from holding animals on their laps, while Rhode Island and New Jersey have restrictions regarding pets in vehicles. The New Hampshire bill subjects violators to $100 fines, but does not require pets to be restrained or in carriers. Opposition to the bill mainly comes from people who genuinely love their pets and feel that they have the right to have their pet with them in the car. Some are also pushing back against being told what to do, though the bill is meant to be a safety measure to prevent distractions while driving.
Opponents of the bill point out that it’s not just pets that can be a distraction while driving. Eating, drinking, and even talking on the phone can all be a danger when driving. They also say that many people have anxiety and fear of being alone in the car, so having their pet with them can be a great comfort.
It remains to be seen whether the proposed legislation will be passed, but it’s clear that the people of the state of New Hampshire feel strongly about the issue. Whether it’s for safety reasons or simply to have their pet along for the ride, it’s sure to be an ongoing debate in the state.