ASK A COP — Is it illegal to leave children in a running vehicle?

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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Rose asks: Just the other day I observed something that didn’t look right, but I wasn’t sure if it was illegal. I observed a woman exit her vehicle at the shopping center and leave her three young children in the car. The three children appeared to be between 5 to 10 years of age. The mother was gone approximately 15 to 20 minutes in the store before her return. Knowing me, I had to get out of my vehicle and express to the mother my concern, but she shrugged me off like I was in her business (should have I call 911)? Is this illegal in Texas to leave your children in a running vehicle?

Officer Rickey Antoine

Answer: Leaving children in cars is very dangerous and concerning in Texas given the high temperatures along with the humidity that we experience during the summer months. Texas is No. 1 in the U.S. in an area we have absolutely no reason to brag. From 1990 to 2017, there were 120 child vehicular heatstroke fatalities in Texas involving children ages 14 and under. Rose, you had every reason to be concerned. This is a violation Under section 22.10 of the Texas Penal Code, “Leaving a Child in a Vehicle.” It is a class C misdemeanor, which means fine only, (no jail time can be given as punishment if found guilty in a court of law) to leave a child under the age of 7 in a vehicle for longer than five minutes without the presence in the vehicle of an individual 14 years or older. Time and age mean everything when concerning children unattended in vehicles. If you’re not certain and have a genuine concern for the safety of the children, please contact your local police agency. We’d rather there be absolutely nothing to the call, than for you to be correct!

Madeline asks: What information should I provide if I hit another vehicle on private property and the other vehicle is unoccupied? Do I have to stay? Should I leave my insurance information and name, phone number? I’ve heard quite a few different answers and now I’m not sure what the true answer is. Thanks for all you do keeping us safe. I back the blue!

Answer: This is one law that not many motorists know or either refuse to comply. If you strike an unattended vehicle, the first thing you should do, if time permits, is attempt to find the driver of said vehicle. If you have no luck in finding the driver, you should leave in a conspicuous place or securely attach in a plainly visible way your NAME and ADDRESS, along with a brief statement of what happened. YES, failing to leave this information is a violation in Texas no matter if the vehicle is unattended on private property or a road. If you leave the scene without providing the above information and the damage to the unattended vehicle is $200 or more, you can be charged with a class B misdemeanor, which carries a penalty up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 fine if found guilty in court of law. If you are involved with a crash and the second vehicle is empty, stop and leave your information. See Texas Transportation Code 550.024

Oscar asks: We were out shopping and looking for a vacant parking spot. The parking spot we wanted, someone in front of us had it half blocked, exited her vehicle and ran into the store. Now my friend was very upset at the driver’s action, so she exited my vehicle and noticed the other driver left her vehicle running. My friend opened the door to the vehicle, and I immediately blew my horn to get her attention. I got out of the car and asked her what she was doing, and she said she was fixing to move the car so I can park in the space. I immediately closed the car door and begged her to get back in my car. She feels like she had the right to move the vehicle since it was illegally parked. Who’s right?

Answer: There are so many things I see wrong with the incident you describe. First, the car wasn’t ILLEGALLY parked. True it wasn’t parked in the correct stall and was blocking other vehicles, but that’s private property and not against the Transportation Code. Could the owner of the private lot have the vehicle towed, ABSOLUTELY! Could the owner of the vehicle that was blocked in call a towing service and have the vehicle towed, ABSOLUTELY! Could your friend enter the vehicle of someone that’s parked bad or illegally without their consent and move it, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Can someone exit their vehicle and leave it running with the keys in the ignition unattended, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’m glad you were a quick thinker and prevented your friend from committing a crime of Criminal Trespass! In Texas, it is ILLEGAL to enter someone’s vehicle, if the vehicle owner hasn’t given expressed consent to enter their vehicle. Refer to Penal Code 30.05.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the CREW: Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I Washington & Tejas “Lil Man” Morning Star for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1-3 p.m. and beyond. Listen as we discuss in detail “Ask A Cop.” You can tune in at Call in your question live at 409-982-0247. Make a comment or question via TEXT at 409-748-6106. Email or call 409-983-8673 and leave a voice mail. Mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you see me in public, feel free to “Ask A Cop!”