Leaving Child in Car Unattended May Soon Be A Crime in Utah

Senate Bill 124

If passed, SB 124, which is being considered by the Utah Senate, will make it a Class C misdemeanor to leave a child under 9 in an enclosed compartment of a car, who is not supervised by a person who is 12 years or older.  The attendant conditions of leaving the child in the car must also present a risk to the child’s health or safety.

The language of this bill seem ambiguous.  What exactly is an “enclosed compartment” and how will a law enforcement officer decide whether the conditions present a risk to the child’s health and safety?

Obviously there are situations when a parent should not leave a child alone in a car (e.g., mid-July in Phoenix with the car off and the windows rolled up), but this bill could result in the police getting called when a mom runs in to pick up a pizza or drop off library books.

Parents generally know what is best for their children, and for those parents who don’t, there are sufficient safeguards and laws already in place.

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