An update to the New Jersey pet seat belt law
I’ve received quite a bit of feedback and questions regarding the pet restraint law. I outlined the origin of the law and the statement regarding the renewed emphasis on enforcement in an earlier post. One reader asked what the exact language of the law is. I have included the New Jersey statute 4:22-18 below, as well as the statute which spells out the penalty, 4:22-17. Traffic lawyers throughout the state should familiarize themselves with these rules as well.
Buckle Your Seatbelt for NJ Pet Restraint Laws
I also neglected to mention that it was stated in the release by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty that a driver can be cited for each animal that is not properly restrained. That means that if you have four dogs running loose in your car and are stopped, it can quickly become an expensive trip…
Depending on how this law is interpreted and enforced, drivers in Southern New Jersey should be weary. Even though police officers may not be expressly targeting drivers to cite them for a cruelty to animals offense resulting from an non-restrained animal, officers certainly may write that expensive ticket when they have you pulled over for something else. It may end up being in your best (and money saving) interests to bite the bullet and purchase a pet restraint.
I have included some links to acceptable pet restraints at the end of the article.
The law reads:
4:22-18. Carrying animal in cruel, inhumane manner; disorderly persons offense
4:22-18. A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.
So what does this mean for you?
Criminal Penalties for Animal Cruelty
4:22-17. Cruelty; disorderly persons offense; certain acts, crimes; degrees.
[a person who is guilty of cruelty]… Shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3 to the contrary, for every such offense shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $1,000, or be imprisoned for a term of not more than six months, or both, in the discretion of the court. A violator of this subsection shall also be subject to the provisions of subsection c. and, if appropriate, subsection d. of this section.
b. A person who shall purposely, knowingly, or recklessly:
…Shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
If the animal or creature is cruelly killed or dies as a result of a violation of this subsection, or the person has a prior conviction for a violation of this subsection, the person shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree.
A violator of this subsection shall also be subject to the provisions of subsection c. and, if appropriate, subsection d. of this section.
c. For a violation of subsection a. or b. of this section, in addition to imposing any other appropriate penalties established for a crime of the third degree, crime of the fourth degree, or disorderly persons offense, as the case may be, pursuant to Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, the court shall impose a term of community service of up to 30 days, and may direct that the term of community service be served in providing assistance to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or to a municipality’s animal control or animal population control program. The court also may require the violator to pay restitution or otherwise reimburse any costs for food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care or treatment, or other costs, incurred by any agency, entity, or organization investigating the violation, including but not limited to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or a local or State governmental entity.
d. If a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a disorderly persons offense pursuant to subsection a. of this section or a crime of the third degree or crime of the fourth degree pursuant to subsection b. of this section, the court also shall order the juvenile to receive mental health counseling by a licensed psychologist or therapist named by the court for a period of time to be prescribed by the licensed psychologist or therapist.
If you are pulled over and issued a citation for not having your pet properly restrained, or if your child is in need of a juvenile defense lawyer, call attorney Joseph Lombardo at (609) 445-4300. We can potentially help to limit the financial consequences and find alternatives to fines.
Links to Dog and Cat Restraints
Solvit Pet Vehicle Safety Harness ($21.99 – $29.99)
PupZip™ Vehicle Zipline ($19.99)
Kurgo TruFit Smart Harness ($22.99 – 29.99)
Top Paw™ Seat Belt Straps ($6.79)
Top Paw™ Pet Safety Car Harness ($19.19)