Friday, 27 April 2012
Guest post by Elizabeth from www.rockabyeparents.com
New York State has recently passed a bill that makes it illegal for a child under the age of 8 to be left alone in a motor vehicle. A child can also not be left in the vehicle with anyone under the age of 12. Children cannot be left, “under conditions which would knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health or safety of the child.” The fine for breaking the law is a $50 fine for the first violation, no more than $100 for a second violation that is within 18 months of the first, and no more than $250 for a third, but a third would be a misdemeanor and would require a court visit.
The New York Senate unanimously passed the bill, but there are many critics that feel that the law is very vague and will end up being nothing more than a revenue maker. Many feel that the law is too open leaving a lot of room for interpretation by the cops enforcing it. One retired cop, Steve Epps, also said that he didn’t like that it didn’t include different levels of offense such as, “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.” One of the biggest things critics don’t like about the law is that the penalty fines are actually lower than the ones given for leaving a pet alone in a motor vehicle in extreme cold or heat.
I understand the reasoning behind the bill, and I applaud those taking steps to protect children, but I personally feel that, for the most part, this is a pointless bill. First of all how many of us have truly never left our kids alone in the car? Now I’m not talking about leaving them alone while you run errands. I’m talking about the quick in and out. I recently forgot something, and I left my son safely strapped into his car seat while I ran back into the house. I was gone all of 30 seconds. I also know people that feel their child is safer strapped into their car seat while they run the groceries into the house than to leave their child in the house unsupervised. In a perfect world there would always be two adults around so kids would always be supervised, but that just isn’t the case.
The bill is also very vague. What exactly are, “…conditions which would knowingly and recklessly present a significant risk to health or safety of the child?” Does that mean running into the house or up to a drop box would be alright, or does being alone in the car at all break the law? Personally I think that any parent that leaves their child alone in a car when it presents a risk to the child’s health and safety is not making a good decision and is likely not a fit parent. If that’s the case then those kids are probably not being treated correctly to begin with.
The reason behind the law was good, but the bill itself still needs work though. I’m not really sure how much good it will do though because the parents that leave their kids in cars in unsafe conditions aren’t likely to change their ways just because they might get a ticket.
What are your feelings about the bill? Would you leave your child alone in a car?
You can read the entire article here.