By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–A bill making leaving a child or mentally/physically incapacitated individuals alone in vehicles by a paid caregiver a crime.
Sponsored by Senator Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile), SB397, passed the Senate unanimously with one friendly amendment from Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman).
Named the Amiyah White Unattended Children in Motor Vehicle Safety Act after a 2-year-old who died after being left in a Mobile church day care center’s van for nearly three hours in the summer heat.
The bill, endorsed by the District Attorneys Association, defines the terms under which a child or mentally/physically incapacitated persons could be left in a car as well as the penalties that would be applied upon violation.
Children under the age of 19 can only be left in a car with the supervision of a mentally/physically capable person to at least 19 years old.
Senator Bussman added an amendment further defining a incapacitated person as “”any person who is incapacitated because of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, physical or mental infirmity by advanced aging, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication or other to the extent of lack or lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions.”
“We have many mentally challenged people, we have elderly who are unable to maintain their mental ability,” said Bussman. “It is important that we think about people who are left in the car when we get out. People who do not have the ability to think for themselves, to be able mentally or physically get out of the car.”
Upon violation of leaving a child or a mentally/physically incapacitated individual in a car in the first offense, the penalty is ” not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000), the offense is a Class C misdemeanor.”
First offense causing physical injury Class A misdemeanor, causing serious physical injury Class C felony, and resulting in fatal injury Class B felony.
The bill now moves to the House. It is anticipated to be received favorably.