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Florida bill would make it illegal to leave a young child alone in a car for any amount of time

Kid can be in car for 15 minutes under current law
Florida bill would make it illegal to leave a young child alone in a car for any amount of time
Posted at 2:32 AM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 07:39:25-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Legislators are heading back to Tallahassee. The 2018 Legislative Session begins on Tuesday.

One Florida lawmaker is hoping to save lives by making it illegal to leave a child in a car for any amount of time.

McKenzie Blankenship is a mom of two. Her kids are rambunctious.

"I wouldn't even trust my kids alone for 15 minutes," Blankenship said laughing.

It is also why she never lets them have free reign of the mini-van.

"They'd take off, go down the street, probably go to the closest Chick-fil-A and eat lunch," Blankenship said.

And that is just one of many reasons lawmakers in Tallahassee are trying to change the current rules for kids under the age of six. 

Right now it is legal to leave your kid in a car for up to 15 minutes in the State of Florida. However, the advocacy group Safe Kids says it takes just ten minutes for a car to heat up 19 degrees, even with the windows cracked.

"It's really not a safe choice to make," said Petra Vybiralova, the Safe Kids supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

Vybiralova says even air conditioning will not prevent heat stroke because the sun is still pounding on the vehicle and leaving a child under the age of six inside a running car is illegal under current law.

"Children up to the age of five do not self regulate their body temperature, so they are much more at risk for heat stroke," said Vybiralova.

State Bill 92, proposed by Senator Lauren Book and Senator Linda Stewart, is making its way through Florida House and Senate committees. If it were to pass you could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor for breaking it. Plus, if the officer that gets your kid out of of your vehicle cannot find you, they will taking your child to the Department of Children and Families

Blankenship says while it takes time getting a three-point car seat harness off-and-on for a two-minute trip into the Post Office, she believes the new law will save lives.

"Sometimes those clear rules and guidelines are kind of a better route to go," said Blankenship.

There have also been incidents in the Tampa Bay area where a thief stole a vehicle with a child inside.

In May 2016, a 12-year-old sitting in the front passenger seat of his mothers car was punched in the face by a person attempting to steal the car. In October 2017, a 16-year-old was inside their father's car when a man attempted to take off in it.

While the proposed law would not have affected either of those cases, it might get parents to stop leaving kids of any age alone in a vehicle for any amount of time.