BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Senate Bill 207 was passed in the 2019 Alabama legislative session that provides immunity to a person if they break into a car to rescue a child in a hot car.
The bill states,
This bill would prohibit any person from leaving a child or an incapacitated person in a motor vehicle unattended in a manner that creates an unreasonable risk of injury or harm. This bill would also provide criminal immunity to a person who rescues a child or incapacitated person from an unattended motor vehicle.
It also states,
This bill would provide civil and criminal immunity to a public safety official who rescues a child or incapacitated person from an unattended motor vehicle.
According to carsandkids.org, 2018 was the year with the most fatalities involving a child vehicular heatstroke death, with that number being 52.
Alabaster Fire Chief Tim Love said this kind of law will help them when responding to a child left in a hot car, but it’s very important to call 9-1-1 immediately.
“Anything that takes action to provide safety for children is a good thing. Several states in the country have good Samaritan laws. You would hope people see that as a positive, you would hope people take good action, but we never know in our society when people will sue. I look at it as the safety of child out-ways the situation,” said Chief Love.
The new Alabama law does not apply to pets. In fact, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society said there is no law that allows anyone to break into a car if they see an animal inside a hot car.
“I 100% believe this law should relate to children, of course, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t have extended to any living thing inside a car that is basically cooking,” said Ivana Sullivan, chief program officer at GBHS.
The new law does have requirements if you break into a car. First, the car must be locked. Second, you must have good faith and reasonable belief the child is in danger and needs quick action. You also must remain with the child until emergency officials are on the scene.