Why driving with your pet in the car could land you with a Â£5,000 fineÂ this half term
Many Sheffield families will be heading for days outÂ this October half-term and will often be bringing their four-legged friends along with themÂ
But, your day out could end up costing you a lot more money than you originally planned if you don't secure your pet correctly in the car.
Any owners who allow their pet to sit on their lap while riding shotgun, hang their heads out the window or in the footwell below is unwittingly breaking the law.Â
Unrestrained pets could cause accidents or near misses and you could face a Â£5,000 fine driving without due to care or attention.Â
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that drivers must '˜make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injury you, or themselves, if you stop quickly'.
The code adds that a '˜seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars'.Â
While breaking the Highway Code is not a criminal act in itself, if your pet causes an accident then you could be found guilt of driving without due care and attention.Â
Any driving that demonstrates lack of alertness to the dangers of the road, or a disregard for other road users (whether deliberate or not), could fall under this category.
The RAC said: 'In many cases, driving without due care and attention will result in aÂ fixed-penalty notice (FPN). This usually means three points on your driving licence and a Â£100 fine, although some police forces may offer a driver education course as an alternative.
'If you disagree with the FPN, you can request a court hearing. However, this could increase your costs if the judge doesn't find in your favour.
'If the offence is more serious (i.e. if you have endangered other drivers or pedestrians, or caused an accident), you will automatically be summoned to court.
'The maximum penalty here is nine points on your licence and a Â£5,000 fine '“ or you may be disqualified from driving altogether.'
You could also be invalidating your car insurance when driving without correctly restraining your pets and if you are involved in an accident your insurers may not pay out.Â
Gocompare.com's Matt Oliver said: "If an animal roaming freely around the vehicle is said to have contributed to causing an accident, then an insurance company could be well within their rights not to pay out on a claimÂ
Driving with your pet is sometimes a necessity, whether it's a short trip to the vet or a longer trip for a weekend way.
"But making sure they are properly controlled is essential for the safety of everyone in the car.
"The law is clear - you must secure your animal while in a car - therefore if you don't do this and an animal roaming freely around the vehicle is said to have contributed to causing an accident, then an insurance company could be well within their rights not to pay out on a claim.