California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation Saturday that would have banned motorists from holding a live animal in their laps or arms while driving.
The lap-dog measure — dubbed the “Paris Hilton Bill” in honor of the celebrity dog lover — had been ridiculed by Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives as excessive government.
Schwarzenegger voiced no opinion on the bill, saying only that he didn’t consider it a priority, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee.
Had it been approved, violators would have faced a base fine of $35, which could have risen to $150 with state and county fees.
Assemblyman Bill Maze, the bill’s author, said he proposed the bill after seeing a Tulare County woman driving with three dogs on her lap.
“You’ve got a live animal that has a mind of its own,” Maze said. “It can get tangled in the steering wheel or pinned between your knees. It can create a real hazard for yourself and everyone else.”
The governor has approved other restrictions on drivers — banning text messaging and using phones without a hands-free device.
California Highway Patrol statistics show that four people were killed and 346 others injured in collisions from 2001 to 2007 due to driver inattention caused by an animal — but no breakdown exists of how many were in their owner’s lap.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance found in a 2006 survey that 8 percent of drivers had held a pet while behind the wheel.