State Senator Raptakis will reintroduce legislation that protects young children from being left alone in vehicles
STATE HOUSE — State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich) will reintroduce legislation that would make it an offense to leave a child under the age of seven unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 15 minutes. Senator Raptakis’s bill will also grant law enforcement and first-responders more leeway in determining if a child is in danger if left alone in a vehicle.
The legislation would make the offense a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. The penalties of the proposal mirror that of legislation applying to leaving animals in a car unattended.
“While child neglect and child endangerment are serious crimes,” said Senator Raptakis, “we have no law providing a penalty for children left unattended in cars. As it stands now, the law only authorizes law enforcement officials to provide a verbal warning. There is a serious danger of abduction and an even greater danger from excessive temperatures inside a car. Animals are protected from being left unattended in a car with extreme temperatures. In fact, the penalty is a $1,000 fine. It’s time we give our children the same protection. This law would be especially important during the holiday season with plunging temperatures and holiday shopping. It’s time we protect our children.”
The new version of the legislation will add language to the bill that states that any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician who has reason to believe that an unattended child in a vehicle is in danger, shall have the authority to enter the vehicle by any reasonable means necessary to protect the health or well-being of the child.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903