Leaving kids in vehicles could soon be a crime in Michigan

| 8/23/2005

Truckers and other drivers have seen it before. They pull into a store parking lot and while walking to the door they notice a youngster, all alone, sitting helplessly inside a closed vehicle with the driver nowhere to be seen.

A state lawmaker in Michigan would like to bring charges against people who leave children in vehicles.

Rep. Bill Van Regenmorter, R-Georgetown Township , has introduced a bill that would change the definition of third and fourth degree child abuse to include any act likely to cause harm to a child.

Existing Michigan law requires that a person must intend to injure a child to face charges, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids reported.

The proposed definition change would include leaving a child alone in a hot vehicle, even if the child doesn’t get hurt.

The maximum sentence would be imprisonment for one year, the Detroit Free Press reported. If a child were injured, the penalty would shoot up to 15 years in prison.

The effort to toughen Michigan ’s rules follows the deaths of several children in vehicles, including one near Van Regenmorter’s home district.

HB4738 is in the House Committee on Judiciary.