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State bill keeps dogs off drivers' laps
Visalia lawmaker's car safety proposal heads to the governor's desk.
By E.J. Schultz / Bee Capitol Bureau
08/20/08 23:03:24

SACRAMENTO -- First they came for your cell phone. Now, the dog.

The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill by a Valley lawmaker that would make it illegal for drivers to keep pets on their laps.

Visalia Assembly Member Bill Maze has taken plenty of grief from his fellow Republicans for pushing the bill, including conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh. But Maze did not back off, calling it a safety issue.

"If you have an animal that gets in your face or gets tangled up in your steering wheel while you're driving, you can't properly control [the car]," he told The Bee earlier this year.

Assembly Bill 2233 passed the Senate on a 21-17 vote, with only one Republican vote, Sen. Tom Harmon, R-Huntington Beach. The Assembly has already passed the bill but must agree to minor changes before the legislation heads to Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk.

The governor has not taken a position.

The bill is the latest attempt by lawmakers to eliminate driving distractions.

Legislation that took effect this summer bans the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Maze's bill would start July 1 and prohibit drivers from "holding a live animal in his or her arm or arms, or upon his or her lap."

Fines would start at $35. Animals are the ninth-ranked cause of driver distraction, according to the bill's analysis.


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