Florida May Ban Dogs from Sticking Heads out of Car Windows


UPDATE 2/22/23, 7 p.m: In response to our request, the legislation’s sponsor, Florida State Senator Lauren Book, issued a statement accompanied by this photo of her own dogs:

dogs in the car

Sen. Lauren Book’s family pets.

Courtesy of Florida State Sen. Lauren Book

“Our family has three dogs—two of which weigh almost 175 pounds each and love to stick their heads out the window—so I welcome and appreciate all public comment on this issue, which is just one part of a full proposed overhaul of the state’s animal welfare system as brought to me by veterinarians and advocates. We could easily amend this piece of the bill while protecting the intent of the animal welfare community and veterinarians who proposed the policy because of the unintentional injuries they treated—and we will .meanwhile, let’s all invest in a good pair of doggles to keep our furry friends safe.

Lately, Florida has been full of ideas to ban stuff, and the list may soon expand from books and driving in the left lane to off-leash dogs in cars. Florida State Senator Lauren Book is sponsoring a bill, SB 932, that deals with animal welfare and covers a lot of ground. These include language restricting animal testing for cosmetic products, banning cats’ claws and creating a public registry of animal abuse offenders. All of this sounds hard to argue with, no matter how many times a cat has shredded your curtains.

But there’s also a provision that’s likely to rankle dog owners, not to mention dogs. Specifically, the part of the bill that pertains to “prohibiting a person from taking specific actions related to the transportation of dogs on public roads.” What, they want to ban your dog sticking his head out the window? Well, yes, actually. Let’s see.

No dogs on laps, no dogs on motorbikes

The first part of the dog transport section (and there are several) says that you cannot have a dog on your lap while driving. We agree with that. Mostly because the people who ride with dogs on their laps don’t really have dogs per se—they have cats that love to go for rides. Because if a dog is on your lap while you’re driving, chances are he’s under 10 pounds, wearing a designer hat, and losing a fight to a moderately combative chipmunk. And if it’s not the kind of dog on your lap — as in a big, sloppy, rambunctious creature capable of walking through a closed screen door — then that dog shouldn’t be between you and the controls of your motor vehicle not. Right enough.

dogs in cargo area

Dogs in cargo area, and unrestricted, and heads out the window: would also be illegal.

Ezra Dyer|Car and Driver

Part B basically says the same thing, but applied to motorcycles—you can’t let your dog ride in front of you on a motorcycle, even if he wears glasses and puts his paws on the handlebars like he’s riding and everyone loves it. Dog in a backpack on a motorcycle? Apparently OK. And as for a cool dog in a motorcycle sidecar, well, we’re pretty sure it’s the Florida state flag.

We asked our dogs about this, and they said if you criminalize dogs sticking their heads out the window, then only criminal dogs will stick their heads out the window.

Now for the third rule of dog transportation: You cannot “permit a dog to protrude its head or any other part of its body outside a motor vehicle window while the person is driving the motor vehicle on a public road.” Yes, it would be illegal for your dog to stick his head out the window. We asked our dogs about this, and they said if you criminalize dogs sticking their heads out the window, then only criminal dogs will stick their heads out the window. We pointed out that the penalty would really only be a non-criminal moving violation (our dogs clearly hadn’t read the full text of the bill).

dog in car window

Ezra Dyer|Car and Driver

The anti-head-out-the-window rule is almost a moot point given SB 932’s subsequent rules on dog accessories in cars. It says that dogs in motor vehicles must either be crated or restrained with a harness or pet seat belt, or physically restrained by someone other than the driver. And any dog ​​in the bed of a pickup would have to be in a crate, period—and the crate itself strapped to the truck. (Human Floridians will still be allowed to ride in the bed of a pickup truck.) There are also a few words about not driving around with your dog on the roof or standing on the hood of your car , no matter how rad your dog is.

We’re guessing that there was some kind of incident that prompted these proposed dog restraint rules, and we contacted Senator Book’s office to ask if that was the case. If we find out more, we’ll let you know. Who wants to go for a ride in the meantime?

Head shot by Ezra Dyer

Senior Editor

Ezra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He is now settled in North Carolina, but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.