– Adults who leave children under 8 years old unsupervised in vehicles could be ticketed or criminally charged under a bill that passed the New York State Senate. The bill says children could die of hyperthermia or be abducted. According to the Queens Chronicle:
The bill applies to any person legally charged with care of a child and states that they cannot be left alone or with anyone under the age of 12, “under conditions which would knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health or safety of the child.”
Those found guilty of an infraction would be fined no more than $50 for the first violation, no more than $100 for a second infraction within 18 months of the first, and no more than $250 for a third, but at that point it would be a misdemeanor and the person would have to appear in court.
Critics say the bill has problems. One is the penalty for endangering kids in cars is less severe than endangering pets. Another is the law is vague and may be an overreach in some cases.
Steve Epps, a retired police officer and resident of St. Albans, had similar concerns, stating that the bill doesn’t differentiate between parents who leave a child in a car for a few minutes while they run into a grocery store to get a quart of milk and drug addicts who leave their vehicle to buy narcotics and completely forget the child was with them.
“It leaves too much room for abuse by the city and leaves it to the cop’s opinion as to what to look for,” Epps said. “It seems like a revenue maker to me.”
Of course, Free Range Kids weighed in on this one:
So even if I think my 7-year-old can wait in the car, reading a comic book, while I go in to buy stamps, someone else with a badge or gavel might consider that treacherous. After all, what if there’s a carjacking? What if the child is snatched? What if the car overheats in ten minutes and somehow my kid can’t figure out how to open the door? Or (to paraphrase some folks interviewed in the Queens Chronicle article): What if the state needs to make money and penalizing my parenting decisions is an easy way to grab it?
Police are already charging parents who leave their kids in cars. The issue of criminalizing parents who don’t follow new societal norms of “never leaving kids alone” is getting national attention in legal circles. The bill hasn’t passed the assembly.
– Helicopter parents forced the cancellation of a Colorado Easter Egg hunt.
– A Rochester security guard won a $3.4 million verdict for getting shot during a Wilson Farms holdup in 2003. In the decade before his shooting, there were more than 100 Wilson Farms robberies in the area.
– Talking on the phone while driving is bad, right? But there’s not a lot of data showing crashes related to cell phone use.