Oregonians could face fine for driving with dogs on their laps

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Oregonians could soon face up to a $250 fine for letting their dogs sit in their laps while they drive.

State Senator Bill Hansell introduced Senate Bill 556, which would bar dog owners from driving with their dogs on their laps. Anyone caught in violation faces a Class D traffic violation and up to a $250 fine.

Malissa MacDonald, who drove with her dog to Normandale Park in Portland Monday to burn off some energy, says she doesn't support the new proposal.

"There's just other things we need to be focusing our energy on," MacDonald said. "That's not fair. I think that money could be spent on other things."

MacDonald says she doesn't need the government telling her how to handle her dog, mainly because she's already doing the right thing. She makes sure her dog is tucked away safely in a kennel in her back seat before she hits the road.

In fact, even some of Hansell's fellow lawmakers gave him a hard time in Salem, and jokingly asked why he hates dogs.

"Actually, I love dogs and that's why I'm trying to protect them," Sen. Hansell said during public testimony on the measure Monday.

Hansell was the only person who testified during the public comment section Monday morning. He says a friend first brought this issue to his attention.

"Driving with any live animal on your lap presents a distraction and puts the pet, the driver, other passengers and other drivers at significant risk for an accident. An accident that would otherwise be preventable, " Hansell said.

The story generated a lot of interest on Twitter. Beaverton Police even responded to KATU's tweet pointing to ORS 815.270 which already bars this type of distracted driving.

Hansell says that just isn't enforced properly.

Other dog owners we spoke to support the measure.

"It's for the safety of the dogs as well as the driver because if they're on your lap, I mean you can't steer correctly. So I just think it's just for safety reasons," Suzenne Stopper said.

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