Florida Senator Proposes Bill to Protect Animals & Prevent Distracted Driving

Florida Sen. Lauren Book (D-Broward) has proposed a new bill intended to protect animals by making it illegal to let a dog be in a driver’s lap or stick their head out of a window in the car while driving. If passed, the bill would make it a violation to allow a dog “to extend its head or any other body part outside a motor vehicle window while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.” This would also apply to motorcyclists.[0]

The bill, which is 29 pages of proposals related to animal welfare, also includes banning cat declawing and having a dog ride in a car's trunk.[1] An overhaul of sales of pet rabbits would be implemented.[2] No sales of any kind are allowed in streets, flea markets, open-air venues, or during the months of March and April.[2] Under the proposed bill, any violations would be classified as second degree misdemeanors.[2]

It would be illegal for manufacturers to produce, import for financial gain, sell, or offer for sale cosmetics that have been created or manufactured using animal testing carried out or contracted out by the manufacturer or any of their suppliers.[3]

A registry of known animal abusers has been created by this bill, prohibiting the sale of animals to them, while also allowing the state to forbid individuals convicted of sexual offenses involving animals from owning a pet while on probation.[4]

Advocates for animals have declared that the proposed legislation could assist in mitigating the dangers of distracted driving.[0] “Having a companion animal in your lap or with their head out the window, now you’re having to focus on that, you know, what’s happening in front of you as opposed to paying attention to your actual surroundings and being the safest driver that you possibly can be,” said Brittany Livingston of Florida Voices for Animals.[5]

However, the provision about dogs sticking their heads out of car windows is not going to stay in the legislation, at least in its current form. Sen. Book said it will either be removed, or could be limited to only apply to highway driving.[6] “We can easily amend this piece out of the bill while protecting the intent of the animal welfare community and vets who proposed the policy because of unintended injuries they’ve treated — and we will,” she said.[7]

The bill, should it be passed, would become effective as of October 1.[8]

0. “Florida Bill Could Prohibit Dogs From Sticking Heads Out Car Windows” Complex, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.complex.com/life/florida-bill-prohibit-dogs-sticking-heads-out-of-car-windows

1. “Proposed Bill in Florida Could Ban Dogs from Hanging Their Heads Out of Car Windows” Yahoo Life, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/proposed-bill-florida-could-ban-151500153.html

2. “A proposed bill in Florida would ban dogs from hanging their heads out of car windows” NPR, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/23/1158935096/florida-bill-dogs-car-window-cat-declawing

3. “Uproar over proposed law to ban driving with dogs leaning out of car windows. ‘This is not something that Floridians …” South Florida Sun Sentinel, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-florida-ban-dogs-car-windows-cat-declawing-20230222-sric6zimnjgebc6bniearqcv4i-story.html

4. “Proposed bill bans Florida dogs from sticking heads out car windows” WFTV Orlando, 19 Feb. 2023, https://www.wftv.com/news/local/proposed-bill-bans-florida-dogs-sticking-heads-out-car-windows/PQQWSJETV5CA5FK7CD7CM2B67Q/

5. “Florida Bill Seeks to Ban Dogs from Sticking Their Heads Outside Car Windows” PEOPLE, 22 Feb. 2023, https://people.com/pets/florida-bill-banning-dogs-sticking-their-heads-outside-car-windows

6. “‘Not something that Floridians want’: Proposal to ban driving with dogs leaning out of car windows causes uproar” Yahoo News, 23 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/not-something-floridians-want-proposal-000300801.html

7. “Proposed Florida bill wants to ban dogs from putting head out car windows” Denver 7 Colorado News, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.denver7.com/news/national/proposed-florida-bill-wants-to-ban-dogs-from-putting-head-out-car-windows

8. “New bill calls for owners to keep dogs from sticking their heads out of car windows in Florida” WPLG Local 10, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.local10.com/news/florida/2023/02/22/new-bill-calls-for-owners-to-keep-dogs-from-sticking-their-heads-out-of-car-windows-in-florida/

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