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How to ride with pets in cars in NSW, safely and legally

Whether you’ve got a Great Dane or miniature Poodle, the reality is that you’ll need to play chauffeur to your furry friend at some point. When they need a trip to the vet or a ride to the family holiday, most pet owners won’t think twice about having Rover jump in. But before you set off, take a few minutes to get acquainted with the laws and safety requirements for travelling with pets in the car. It may just save you a fine – and save your pet’s life. Here are the rules and recommendations for travelling safely and legally with pets in cars – NSW pet owners, take notes!

The law on pets in cars (NSW)

The law on pets in cars – and fines for breaking it – differs between states. While there are no specific laws for driving with an unrestrained pet in Victoria and Queensland, there are in other states, and travelling with your pet on your lap is illegal in all states. Legally, you are required to restrain your pet while driving, using equipment such as a carrier box, seat basket or seatbelt harness.

The consequences? In Queensland, you can be slapped with an almost $300 fine and lose three demerit points for driving with Rover or Garfield on your lap. For the same offence in New South Wales, you’ll receive a $400 fine at minimum.

But it’s not just the road safety authorities you need to worry about. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if your pet is injured because it wasn’t restrained properly during a drive, you can be fined up to $5,500 and face up to six months in jail.

So, if you haven’t already, go and get the gear – it’s available at most pet stores both in-store and online.

Safety measures for driving with pets

Now we’ve covered the law and potential fines, let’s talk safety. 

Back seat is best

While legally you can put your pet in the passenger seat as long as you use a restraint, it’s far from the safest spot for them. Should the airbags deploy in the event of an accident, it’s likely they would cause injury or even death to your furry friend in the passenger seat. The back seat is the better spot for Rover.

Pet barriers

If your pal likes to socialise during drives, consider getting a pet barrier. This is usually a sheet of fabric that clips in between the front seats and the back. This will save you from getting distracted or bumped by your pet while driving.


So, next time you’re off for a holiday with Rover, follow these recommendations for driving with pets in cars to save yourself the risk of a fine and demerit points, and keep your best friend safe and sound!


Is your back seat already covered in pet hair? Make sure your car cleaning kit is prepared for the job: The best products for your car cleaning kit

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