Assembly OKs bill imposing fine for leaving child alone in car

Associated Press
Thursday September 06, 2001

SACRAMENTO (AP) — People who leave small children alone in cars could face $100 fines under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Assembly. 

The bill, sent to the Senate by a 48-12 vote, would make it an infraction to leave a child under the age of 6 in a motor vehicle without being supervised by someone at least 12 years old. 

“Many people are unaware of the danger associated with leaving a young child alone in an automobile,” said Assemblyman John Dutra, D-Fremont, a backer of the bill. 

In 10 minutes, the temperature in a car left in the sun on a 72-degree day can reach 108 degrees, he said. A child can die or suffer brain damage if his or her brain reaches 106 degrees, he said. 

Lawmakers opposing the bill said such a fine would do no good. 

“I don’t know how this cures the behavior of irresponsibility,” said Assemblyman David Cox, R-Fair Oaks. 

Supporters noted that misdemeanor or felony charges, with larger fines and jail or prison time, can be filed if a child is injured. The infraction was meant “to provide awareness” of the problem, Dutra said.