Day 33 – February 2
Did you know that it’s illegal to leave you child/ren unattended in a car? I didn’t know that until today. (Well, technically it was two days ago. I know I’m late with this post. We had a bit of a “cookie-tossing-fest” here on Thursday. Blech!) IMO, it’s not a good idea to leave your LO’s unattended, but I didn’t know it was illegal. Illegal, as in, you could be fined, imprisoned or have your license revoked for doing so. Each state has their own legislation. After doing a quick perusal of about 10 state laws, the following rules were pretty common:
– a time limit was set: some places allowed up to 15 minutes of unattended time while others as little as 5 minutes
– the engine should not be running: most constituted this as putting the child/ren in unnecessary danger.
– an age limit was set: some places considered a “minor” of “child” to be age 6 or younger, others went up to age 9
– it was okay to leave children unattended if another child aged 12-16 (depending on the state) was in the vehicle with them.
Here is a website that has links to laws for 19 states. This is not a complete list as I know that AZ and VA both have laws against leaving children unattended. A quick Google search for laws in your state should yeild a few good sites. Or, you can always call your local police station.
I’m in Illinois, so for me, the following applies:
Parents are considered to have endangered the life or health of their child if:
-the child under age 6 was left unattended for more that 10 minutes
– – unattended is defined as not accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older or being out of sight of said person.
The first violation is considered a misdemeanor. The second violation is considered a felony and you could be sentenced to a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years in prison.
That’s a pretty steep punishment! But when you consider the ramifications of leaving your child unattended, (child placing car in gear, child overheating or freezing, car jacking, etc) the punishment seems appropriate.
So next time you are tempted to leave your sleeping angel in the car while you grab a quick cup of joe, pick up your kids from school, run into the grocery store real quick, I hope you’ll rethink and consider the safety as well as the legal ramifications of doing so.