Louisiana laws and penalties on leaving a child in a vehicle
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - According to the National Safety Council, on average, 38 children die each year after being left alone in a hot car. In 2018 alone, 52 children died making it the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years.
NoHeatStroke.org published a study showing an examination of media reports on almost 800 child vehicular heatstroke deaths between 1998 and 2018 and showed there were three primary circumstances resulting in child deaths in hot cars: 53.5% were forgotten by a caregiver, 26.3% of children gained access to a car on their own, 18.6% were knowingly left in a vehicle, and 0.9% were unknown.
“I think we all get in a hurry and we should all be aware of it because I have small grandchildren and I even think ‘let me make sure my heads on right’ and that’s what you have to do,” Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said. "You have to make sure to put your cellphone up and take away all the distractions that we have. I think that’s probably the most important thing we as adults can do. Whether you’re a daycare worker, babysitter, grandparent, aunt, uncle, parent, it doesn’t matter: If you are in charge of a child, you need to take every measure possible to keep you from being distracted.
Mancuso says it’s against Louisiana law to leave your child unattended in a vehicle.
“If you are more than 10 feet away from the car they are in, then you are violating the law.”
Unattended meaning no one over 10 years old is in the car with the child. If you break this law, Mancuso says the charges can vary.
“The first I think it’s a $500 fine and six months in jail which means it’s a misdemeanor and the second offense of course can be prison time and then of course if a child were to die you could be charged with negligent homicide," Mancuso said. "Again, it depends on the circumstances. Every circumstance is different.”
So what should you do if you see a child left in a car, in distress or not?
“I think in either case they dial 911 immediately,” Mancuso said. “If there is not an adult within 10 feet then they are automatically violating the law. I know police have protection. If we break a window we cannot be sued and we cannot be held liable if we act in good faith and believe the child is in danger. I think if you see this happening, you should stand right there with the child, call 911, and I hate to say it but if you think the child is in distress, you should do what you have to do. But you need to be on 911 telling them what you are going to do, let them know who you are, that you’re not going to take the child, that you are going to stand right there, and render aid to the child until first responders get there.”
Last year, the Louisiana legislature passed the “Good Samaritan Law”, which gives some protection to people who attempt to save a child left in a hot car.
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