Leaving child alone in car not illegal in Arizona - Tucson News Now

Leaving child alone in car not illegal in Arizona

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Twenty states have laws that specifically address children left unattended in a car. Arizona is not one of them.

"It's something which has to be stopped and deterred," said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-District 8.

He tried back in 2007 to stop similar incidents by co-sponsoring legislation that would have made leaving a child unattended in a car a misdemeanor. You likely never heard a thing about any such bill.

"It [the bill] never received a hearing in the judiciary committee," Kavanagh explained.

But following the death of a 1-year-old left by his father in a hot car this weekend, "I think the time has come again to try to get this bill passed," Kavanagh added. 

In a study released just last week, San Francisco State University researchers found 33 children in the U.S. died in 2012 of heat stroke after being left in a hot car. That number is already at 41 so far this year.

Here in Arizona, in 2012, there were only two deaths. This year, there have been three.

But parents who have been touched by such a tragedy are not sure they would support a second go at Kavanagh's bill.

"Because my husband would be in jail for something that was completely an accident," explained Dawn Peabody. 

Her daughter died after the child's father left the baby in a hot car.

"He thought she was sleeping, went to go check on her, and realized he had left her in the vehicle," she explained.

But Kavanagh says be it an accident or an intentional act, both can have tragic outcomes.

"The purpose of the penal code is not just to punish. The purpose of the penal code is also to give people fair warning of what is wrong and to also deter behavior," Kavanagh added.

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