Dogs and Cars – Don’t Let your Hound Lead you to a Prison Cell!
Britain has always been a nation of dog lovers and during the Covid-19 pandemic dog ownership rose dramatically during the lockdown. So what are the rules on transporting your hound?
What does the law say?
Rule 57 of The Highway Code states:
“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you have to stop quickly.”
While breaching this provision may not automatically result in a penalty, you are still risking being charged with “driving without due care and attention”. This carries a maximum fine of £5,000 as well as a total of up to nine penalty points on your licence. In extreme cases you might find yourself charged with dangerous driving or death by dangerous driving which could leave you facing a prison sentence.
We have had cases where the driver of a car was badly distracted by dogs fighting (or in one case eating the weekly shop) which resulted in an accident and subsequent prosecution.
How do I avoid prosecution?
There are many ways of restraining animals in the car that are commercially available, for example; a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard. The code does not stipulate where animals can be placed. The Dog Trust advises that dogs should not travel in the front of the car as it could be a distraction for the driver and if you are involved in an accident, your dog might suffer catastrophic injuries from the airbag deploying.
Most experts believe using a cage or crate in the boot is the safest way to transport your pet.
SBC Motoring Lawyers have broad experience of defending motorists who face prosecution for offences committed whilst driving – we also like our dogs! If your dog leads you to the Magistrates’ Courts come and speak to us!