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Traffic Tuesday: The dangers of children left alone in running vehicle

Posted at 2:26 PM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 14:26:06-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Police are reminding drivers of the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, even if for a short time.

According to Cape Coral Police, Statute 316.6135, laving children unattended or unsupervised in motor vehicles, carries a $113.00 fine. If the child is in distress or is permanently disfigured from something that happened in the car or from a crash, the person responsible for the car commits a third degree felony and $1000.00 fine.

If the child in the car is in distress, law enforcement may use whatever means necessary to get into the vehicle. This usually means breaking out a window. The child’s safety should come first.

Police say finding a child in a running vehicle poses a threat to the child and everyone in the area. Children are curious and like to do things their parents do.

Children, however, do not know how to drive. Children can get into everything inside the vehicle and could get hurt. Lastly, someone might steal the vehicle with the child in it.

The text of the statute reads:

(1) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle:(a) For a period in excess of 15 minutes;(b) For any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running, the health of the child is in danger, or the child appears to be in distress.

(3) Any person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1)(b) is guilty of a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.

(4) Any person who violates subsection (1) and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child commits a felony of the third degree.

(5) Any law enforcement officer who observes a child left unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle in violation of subsection (1) may use whatever means are reasonably necessary to protect the minor child and to remove the child from the vehicle.

(6) If the child is removed from the immediate area, notification should be placed on the vehicle.

(7) The child shall be remanded to the custody of the Department of Children and Families pursuant to chapter 39, unless the law enforcement officer is able to locate the parents or legal guardian or other person responsible for the child.