From Charles Boyk, a Toledo personal injury attorney of Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC.
When people hear the term “distracted driving,” they often think it applies to only texting while driving. This is not true, though. In fact, the term refers to anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road. Eating, applying makeup, and even listening to music that is too loud are all examples of distracted driving included under many laws around the country. Now, in Mantua, Ohio, drivers carrying an animal in their lap while operating a vehicle are also considered to be distracted.
The new law states that Mantua law enforcement can pull drivers over for carrying a pet in their lap. Animals do not have to actually sit in a lap for the law to apply, either. Any time an animal is causing a driver to become distracted, the driver is subject to distracted driving penalties.
The truth is that anything happening inside the car that diverts a driver’s attention is distracted driving. That includes petting an animal or trying to restrain a pet while driving. As more states and counties continue to update their distracted driving laws, we will see more inclusions pertaining to animals in vehicles.
Will drivers in Mantua actually face charges if they are distracted by an animal? Starting on December 20, 2018, charges will be enforced. Those pulled over for a first offense will face minor misdemeanor charges. When a driver is a multiple offender, the charge is increased to a misdemeanor in the third degree. However, the multiple offenses must occur within one year of the first violation of the law. Even first offenders may face the more serious charge if distraction by an animal causes an accident.
So, what can drivers do? There are really only two options. Either animals should remain at home instead of traveling with their owners, or owners should place them in a pet carrier. Animals are unpredictable by nature, and even the most safety-conscious driver could easily become distracted by an unruly pet. Ensuring they are in a secure place will keep the pet, the driver, and anyone else on the road safe from distracted drivers.
Charles Boyk is a personal injury attorney of Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. With locations in northwest Ohio; Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC handle cases involving car accidents, bicycle accidents, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. You can find out more about Charles Boyk and the firm on Facebook and Twitter.