Now that Spring is here, summer is just around the corner. While the warmer
weather and longer days mean spending more time in the sun, there are
many dangers associated with the heat.
When it’s hot outside, sometimes forgetful parents and homeowners
leave their children or animals inside a vehicle for hours at a time.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior often results in tragedy.
According to Kids and Cars, approximately 37 children die annually in hot
vehicles. At least 90 percent of reported deaths in the United States
occurred between April and September.
Younger children are considered the most at risk in these types of incidents.
In fact, 87 percent of children under three years old or younger suffer
vehicular heatstroke, while 55 percent are one or younger.
Wisconsin Criminal Penalties for Leaving a Child in a Hot Car
Wisconsin law states that an individual responsible for a child’s
welfare while driving the child in a vehicle cannot leave the child unattended.
Leaving a child in a vehicle is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable
by a maximum nine-month jail term and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If the child suffered bodily harm after being left inside a hot car unattended,
it is a Class I felony that carries a maximum six-month prison sentence
and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the child suffered great bodily harm,
it is a Class H felony which results in up to three years of imprisonment
and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
Lastly, if a child dies in a hot vehicle, it is a Class G felony, which
is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a maximum $25,000 fine.
“Good Samaritan” Law
In June 2016, Wisconsin became one of several states that allow people
to rescue children and pets in hot cars. Known as the “Good Samaritan”
law, it was created to prevent an individual with good intentions from
being held liable for breaking a window in order to save another person
According to this law, if you see a vulnerable person or animal in a hot
vehicle, you must perform the following steps in order:
- Check if the doors are locked
- If the doors are locked, attempt to find the person responsible for the
child or pet
- If you cannot locate the responsible individual, contact law enforcement
and then attempt to break one of the car’s windows
Every minute counts when a person or animal is trapped in a hot vehicle.
If a child is red or unresponsive, you must take immediate action.
If you have been accused of leaving your child or pet in a hot car and
are facing criminal penalties in Milwaukee,
request a free consultation with the
Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today.