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You’re driving along and suddenly you notice that the driver in the car next to you has a dog on his/her lap. Is that safe? Is that legal?

“Right now, it is not illegal to have a pet in your lap,” CHP Officer Jon Sloat said. “It certainly is not the safest thing to do, but no law against it — yet.”

He said there is legislation in the works that would make it illegal. And there have been past efforts in the Legislature to ban such co-driving with pets. In 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have fined drivers $35 for sharing the driver’s seat with a pet.

So while a DUI is illegal, a DWD (driving with dog) is not.

Sloat said drivers have been ticketed for doing various activities while driving.

He recalled that a fellow officer once saw a man reading a newspaper while driving in slow commute traffic in San Mateo. The officer ticketed the man for unsafe speed based on California’s basic speed law, which is that you shall not drive any faster than is safe for the conditions.

The man took the case to court, Sloat said. “The judge heard both sides and his decision was: The safe speed for reading a newspaper while in the driver’s seat of a vehicle is 0 mph — guilty.”

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