Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that he will be introducing legislation which will penalize adults who leave an unattended child in a car under the age of 7 in conditions which knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child. Senator Saland was made aware of the need for legislation by Dutchess County Legislator Marcus Molinaro and George Lithco of the S.K.I.P.P.E.R. Initiative.
Between 1998 and 2004, 230 children have died of hypothermia from being left in cars. In 2005, by mid-summer 19 deaths were recorded as a result of hypothermia. Studies have indicated that when outside temperatures range from 72 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle rises approximately 19 degrees in ten minutes, 29 degrees after 20 minutes, 34 degrees after 30 minutes and 43 degrees after 60 minutes. It has been found that cracking a window has very little effect on the car’s inside temperature.
"Adults who knowingly or recklessly place children at risk by leaving them in a car unattended should know that this will result in a charge of endangering the welfare of a child," said Senator Saland. "We want to increase awareness regarding the rapidly rising temperature in cars. This has the potential to be particularly dangerous in the Fall when we have mild days that might not at first glance seem capable of producing threatening temperatures in a car."
"Protecting our children and providing for their well being is the single most important action we can take as individuals," said Dutchess County Legislator Marcus Molinaro. " Making illegal the intentional act of endangering a child is so important to providing for their own well being and the well being of our society."
The penalty would be endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A Misdemeanor.