It’s not illegal in the UK to drive with your pet in the car. However, changes to the law are being made to drivers distracted by their animals. Prison sentences, penalty points and unlimited fines look to be given out for drivers having their pet in their vehicle.

Additional penalties have been raised concerning animal endangerment caused by leaving pets in an unattended car.

So why are fines increasing?

While it is not illegal to drive with a pet inside your vehicle, boundaries are being pushed.

One of the most frequently asked questions concerns the legality of driving with your pet in your lap. Driving with a dog in your lap is illegal as it breaks both laws concerning having the dog properly restrained and having it in a place that won’t distract the driver.

With owners focusing on their pets more than the road, we are seeing accidents occur nationwide due to distracted drivers.

What can occur in extreme cases?

As the police are cracking down, they can now hand over a £1,000 fine on the spot. However, the fine can be increased depending on the severity of the situation. Even having your dog’s head hanging out the window now carries a fine of up to £5,000 and 9 penalty points.

In fact, in severe cases, bans may be handed to drivers. These bans will then force drivers to take a compulsory test to reobtain their licence once the penalty period has passed.

Leaving a pet in the car

It might seem appealing to park in the shade with your windows open while your pet is in the car. But, if anything happens to your pet as a result of leaving them in the car, a six-month jail sentence could be given as punishment.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, an animal cruelty charge will be given out to owners putting their pets in danger by keeping them in a hot car.

How to travel in a car with your pet

If you plan on driving with your pet, make sure they are held in place with a harness or kept in the boot. Additionally, use your child locks when driving, it will prevent your animal from accidentally opening the car door.

If the weather is hot, do not keep your pet in the car unattended. Leaving your windows open is not enough. The inside of a car lacks the ventilation needed to effectively keep your animal cool. So when the weather is hot and you leave your car, always bring your pet along.

Want more news surrounding the current changes occurring to the highway code? Check out our up-to-date news coverage here.