“Can a 5 year old be in the car alone?”
What the law says about leaving a child alone in a vehicle
Police frequently receive calls from concerned members of the public about children being left unattended in vehicles. In fact, there was an almost 40 per cent increase in calls to police between 2010-11 and 2012-13 with over 11,000 reports nationwide.
A number of states have specific laws that make it unlawful to leave children unattended in motor vehicles. This is to protect against what could potentially be a dangerous situation for young children who may not realise how quickly they can become dehydrated or get too hot while sitting inside a parked car. It is also meant to protect against any potential harm that might come from curious young minds playing with items like seatbelts or power windows. Laws vary by state but often require that either the engine be running or that there must be someone sitting inside who is capable of taking control should something happen such as having enough strength to open doors if necessary and sound judgement to react appropriately should an emergency arise (e.g., calling for help).
It is important to know your local laws so you are fully informed on what requirements you need to meet when considering leaving your child unattended while driving including whether it includes simply turning your engine off but staying inside yourself, putting on hazard lights or locking/unlocking doors before you exit the vehicle etc…and if applicable, letting police know what measures were taken eg: Your keys are locked inside with your child which means they cannot drive off and call 000 immediately if needed) – see below for more information regarding reporting incidents involving children left unattended when driving).
What the law says about leaving a child alone in a car
In some states, there is no specific law that prohibits leaving children unattended in vehicles but it is still an offence to behave irresponsibly. This means that if you are caught leaving a young child or infant alone and unsupervised in a car it can still be considered an offence even though there may not be any laws preventing you from doing so. Police have discretion as to whether they believe the conditions were safe enough for the child, particularly if they were left without any supervision. If your actions are considered irresponsible or careless then this could result in charges being laid including negligence and/or risk of injury to a minor. You should also check with your local police department as each has its own policy on how they deal with calls of this nature (some may attend while others will just take details over the phone). The following link contains information on “Child Abduction Prevention” by Victoria Police: http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content/child-abduction-prevention
Can I leave my infant alone in a car?
The simple answer is no. It is the safest option to not leave an infant or child under the age of 12 months old unattended in a vehicle. This is because, contrary to popular belief, babies and young children can die from heat exhaustion when left inside cars. A parent’s memory can easily be distracted and they may overestimate their baby’s ability to handle being left on its own for even a few minutes while they pay for groceries or stop at the ATM.
Worryingly, it takes very little time for temperatures inside a parked car to become dangerously hot which means that even if you are only intending on leaving your child unattended for a very short time it could still prove deadly depending on outside temperatures . Even if you think that your car has good air-conditioning and/or has its windows open slightly you should still not leave your baby alone as putting your faith into these things does not guarantee anything – cars can overheat very quickly especially if parked under direct sunlight or next to another vehicle etc…just 1 degree rise in temperature will double how long it takes before symptoms of heat illness start showing so never take any chances with this
How do I report someone leaving children alone in vehicles?
If you can safely do so, take down as much information as possible about the car, including its license plate number and any other identifying marks (e.g., colour, distinguishing features etc..) if available. If there are any witnesses to what is happening it is important they contact police immediately too. Then call 000 to report your concerns or use one of the online reporting forms at the link below:
What should I do if I see a child left alone in a vehicle?
As mentioned above, if you feel that a child is in danger and/or their life may be at risk then do not hesitate to call 000. However, if it is safe for you to do so try and take down as much information as possible before calling police including the car’s license plate number and any other identifying marks (e.g., colour, distinguishing features etc..). Also taking a photo of the child or vehicle with your mobile phone can be very helpful too (do not put yourself in danger by approaching an unattended vehicle) – see photo below:
Will I get into trouble for leaving my child unattended?
In most cases, no you will not as police understand that it can be a difficult situation to deal with and are usually forgiving of reasonable mistakes. However, there have been cases where parents have faced child neglect charges after leaving their children unattended in vehicles.
It is important to note that even if you were only intending on leaving your child for a short period of time but they could not be seen from the outside (eg: sitting in the back seat) or if you left the engine running and/or air-conditioning on without someone else inside then it may still constitute an offence. If charged with an offence relating to this type of incident then you should seek legal advice immediately so that the best possible defence can be put together for your case
What happens if I am charged with leaving my child alone in a car?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be charged with an offence relating to either irresponsible behaviour or child neglect. If found guilty then you could face fines and/or jail time for your crime. In some extreme cases where a young child was left unattended in a car resulting in death or serious injury, manslaughter charges have been laid against the parent responsible.
If you find yourself facing charges relating to this type of incident it is important that legal advice be sought immediately so that the best possible defence can be put together for your case