Bill aims to protect good Samaritans who save children or pets

Bill aims to protect good Samaritans who save children or pets
Tuesday, November 29th 2016, 7:11 pm EST
Wednesday, November 30th 2016, 11:24 am EST
By Mary Coleman, Reporter CONNECT
People who break in to vehicles to rescue children or animals may soon be better protected under Texas state law.

This year, 7 Texas children have died from heat stroke as a result of being left in a hot car, and one Texas State Representative is asking the legislature to think about this when considering signing the bill into law.

This past summer, we told you about multiple cases where good Samaritans broke car windows to get in and rescue hot children and even pets. But the reality is, they could face charges, especially from the owner of the vehicle.

House Bill 401 proposed by Representative Jason Villalba, however could change that. It will allow citizens to forcibly enter a vehicle to save a child or animal without fear of civil or criminal penalty.

“We want to do everything we can to form a state policy to protect particularly young children, but also animals to a lesser extent,” says Representative John Smithee. “But you have to balance that against you know private property rights as well.”

So how hard will it be to iron out details and set the law in place? Smithee says it will be a very difficult law to write.

“You do want as I said to protect a child in those situations where they’re endangered, but on the other hand, you don’t just want to give someone a license to go breaking windows and doing damage to vehicles.”

Under current law, it is a class C misdemeanor to leave a child under the age of 7 unattended in a car for more than five minutes.

This bill will include leaving an animal in a car as part of this penalty.

“It’s a real problem because we’ve seen a number of cases in this area,” says Smithee. “You may not intend to endanger someone, but you’re in a situation when you can endanger someone very quickly and very seriously.”

Thousands of bills are proposed each session, so there is no telling if this will pass, but we will keep you updated on the status.

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