Driver risks $5,500 fine over 'dumb' act behind the wheel

A WA dog owner was been slammed after letting her dog sit on her lap while driving — an act that may seem innocuous but is prohibited in Australia.

Posted to the Perth's Worst Driver's Facebook group, the picture of a woman with her dog on her lap drew heated criticism from social media users who said she was putting herself and her pet at risk.

In the image the dog was leaning against the steering wheel while she was driving along a freeway in Perth.

The woman was caught driving with her dog leaning on the steering wheel on a freeway in Perth.
The woman was caught driving with her dog leaning on the steering wheel. Source: Facebook

Some users pointed out that if the dog stood up or moved around it could obstruct her vision.

"I wonder how her 'fur baby' would fare after being crushed between an airbag and her chest if it were deployed," one user commented.

"No real love or care for the animal," another commented.

Is it illegal to drive with a dog on your lap?

Although it is not illegal to drive with a dog in your vehicle, it is prohibited to drive with one sitting on your lap in all states and territories in Australia.

Although the rules in part of the country differ slightly, in all areas the driver must have proper control of the vehicle when driving, which includes a clear and unobstructed view of the road, traffic, and a clear view around them.

According to RAC Insurance, in Western Australia, the law states an animal being transported in a vehicle must not be in a position where it could distract or obstruct the vision of the driver.

The law also states that an animal cannot be on the driver's lap.

There are hefty penalties for those caught letting their pets take a spin behind the wheel. Owners could face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $5,500.

The RSPCA can also issue fines under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act if an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained in a vehicle.

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