No ‘Child Left in Hot Vehicle’ Law in Arizona
Would you be surprised to learn that Arizona does not have any laws regarding leaving children in cars? Nineteen states do so far. Per official data the Phoenix metro area is the second hottest big city in the United States with approximately 107 days a year that top 99 degrees.
Every so often there is a piece on the news about a child or infant left in a car on a hot day. Sometimes the child is found in time and other times, sadly, rescue does not come soon enough. Most of the time children are left in cars by accident by a parent that does not normally take the child or when a child falls asleep and is quiet while the parent has other things on their mind. Sadly, even though unintentional, the consequences can be very serious.
Authorities often look at the evidence to decide if they will attempt to prosecute parents who have left a child in a car. Authorities first look to determine if the child was injured or harmed by the incident. Cases where no harm has been done are harder to prosecute. Even though there is no law in Arizona regarding leaving children in cars, existing child abuse laws relate to whether a child has been injured intentionally and do not distinguish how the abuse happened. So, to prosecute parents for leaving a child in the car in Arizona the prosecutors have to prove that it was intentional. Given that most cases are accidental this leads to very few convictions. Arizona Senator John Kavanagh introduced a bill in 2014, which did not pass through the legislature, that would have helped Arizona form its own law regarding children left in cars.
No parent wants to intentionally leave their child in a car. Fortunately there are simple things that parents can do to help reduce that chance. Some of these include putting an obvious item in the front seat to remind you, or to leave a needed item like a purse or cell phone in the back near the child. Technology is also making inroads with some car seat manufacturers looking to use tech to alert parents to the presence of a baby in the back.