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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Driver’s seat is no place for lap dogs

by Frank Fellone | April 9, 2022 at 3:21 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: Today I saw a woman with her window down and her dog with its head out the window. She was holding onto its collar. It makes us upset to see this. I guess they don't think about what would happen to their dog if they were in an accident. It could be killed when air bags come out. Is there a law about having a animal in your lap while driving? -- Kelly from Beebe

Dear Kelly: We know a woman, of whom we are very fond, who has an all-American mix hound dog. That dog has a thing about squirrels, and we don't mean she likes them. One day at the park, the dog saw a squirrel and leaped out the car's back window to wreak rodent havoc. Fortunately, the car was parked.

Our young friend learned something that day that applies here.

To our knowledge, there is no specific legal prohibition against a dog in the lap of a driver operating a motor vehicle. We have been told this by law enforcement. Children? They must be properly secured or buckled.

But we've also been told by law enforcement about Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-104, "Careless and prohibited driving." It's kind of a catch-all for dumb.

That statute generally warns against careless or distracted driving, and one section says thou shalt not drive "in any manner, when the driver is inattentive, and such inattention is not reasonable and prudent in maintaining vehicular control."

Like maybe holding onto a dog's collar while the dog is in the driver's lap.

In our mind's eye, we see a driver with one hand on a dog collar and the other holding a cellphone. Please do not pretend this doesn't happen.

It's been a while since we've read this statute and it surprised us, especially the part that says it's unlawful to drive "onto or across private property to avoid intersections, stop signs, traffic control devices or traffic lights."

Who among us has not done such a thing?

Dear Mahatma: I am one of thousands of drivers who use the Pine Street exit off Interstate 630, which has been redone now to make us wait for Cedar Street traffic that got moved an entire city block over to the same light in the name of something yet to be determined. May I turn left at a red light onto a one-way street? -- Martha

Dear Martha: We have answered this question numerous times, but it's been years since the last. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Arkansas Code Annotated 27-52-107 tells us that traffic in the left lane of a one-way street, if facing a red light and coming to a complete stop, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a left turn into the left lane of another one-way street. Unless there is a sign that prohibits such a turn.

Vanity plate on a Tesla: ROENTGN. A roentgen is something electric from high school physics. Remember? Us, neither.

Print Headline: Lap dogs an issue of distraction


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