California: Passengers and Pets in Pickup Trucks

Learn whether or not there are laws restricting passengers or pets in pickup beds in California.

What is the law in California regarding passengers in your pickup cargo bed?

California is one of a majority of states that has restrictions on passengers in the cargo bed of a pickup truck. For the most part, these laws are intended to protect younger passengers.

California law. California’s law states that: A vehicle operator shall not allow a person to ride upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code §21712(a)) No person shall ride on vehicle or upon any part of a vehicle that is not designed or intended for passenger use. (Veh. Code

§21712(b)) No person driving a pickup truck or flatbed motor truck shall transport a person in or on the back thereof unless the passenger is restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(a) and (c)) No person shall ride in or on the back of a pickup truck or flatbed motortruck unless they are restrained by a Federally approved restraint system. (Veh. Code §23116(b) and (c)).

Penalties. First offense-A fine of not more than $100. Second offense (within 1 year)-A fine of not more than $200. Third or subsequent offense (within 1 year)-A fine of not more than $250. Veh. Code §42001(a) No points are assigned for a violation of these requirements.

Regardless of state law, you may wish to consult your policy to be certain that passengers in the bed or cargo space are covered. Because pickup truck beds are designed to carry cargo, not people, there are no federal requirements regarding passengers in cargo beds.  California also has separate laws regarding child restraints.

What is the law regarding transporting animals in the cargo bed?

California requires any animal transported in the back of a vehicle “in a space intended for any load” on the highways to be either (1) cross tethered to the vehicle or (2) protected by a secured container or cage, to prevent the animal from falling, jumping, or being thrown from the vehicle (Cal. Vehicle Code § 23117). The animal does not have to be restrained if it is in an enclosed space in the vehicle or in a vehicle that has side and tail racks at least 46 inches high. The law does not apply to livestock or a dog that is transported for a ranching or farming purpose. A violation is punishable by a fine of $50 to $100 for the first offense and $75 to $200 for a subsequent offense if it occurs within one year of the prior infraction (Cal. Vehicle Code § 42001.4).

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