HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1862

TWENTY-EIGHTH LEGISLATURE, 2016

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to children and animals left unattended in motor vehicles.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii has been rated as one of the worst states per capita for heatstroke deaths among children. Frequently, these deaths occur when a child is left unattended in a motor vehicle. There is no safe amount of time to leave children alone in a motor vehicle, regardless of whether the windows of the motor vehicle are left open. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked motor vehicle can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out. Temperatures inside a motor vehicle can reach deadly peaks in ten minutes, and temperatures in excess of 160 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded in parked motor vehicles. In addition, children are more susceptible and at higher risk for heat-related illness and injury than adults because their bodies generate more heat relative to their size and their ability to cool through sweating is not as developed as in adults.

The legislature further finds that hundreds of domestic animals die every year from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked motor vehicles. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in fifteen minutes. Coping with heat is particularly difficult for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads. A dog trapped in a motor vehicle left out in the sun has only hot air to breathe and cannot cool itself no matter how hard it pants. As the air temperature rises, the dog's body temperature rises until, within minutes, its brain and internal organs are fatally damaged.

Immediate action is therefore critical when a child or domestic animal is trapped in the heat inside of a motor vehicle. Currently, section 291C-121.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, makes it a traffic violation to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle for five minutes or longer and provides immunity from civil liability for first responders who remove an unattended child from a motor vehicle to address a physical danger. However, first responders may not always reach the motor vehicle in time to rescue an unattended child from a motor vehicle. Further, the law does not address situations in which a domestic animal is left unattended in a motor vehicle.

The purpose of this Act is to amend the violation of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle to:

(1) Include domestic animals left unattended in motor vehicles; and

(2) Expand the immunity from civil liability for first responders who remove unattended children from motor vehicles, to include any person who, after summoning first responders, removes an unattended child or domestic animal from a motor vehicle to address an imminent danger requiring immediate action.

SECTION 2. Section 291C-121.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]291C-121.5[]] Leaving a child or domestic animal unattended in a motor vehicle. (a) Notwithstanding chapter 571 or any other law to the contrary, [a person] the operator or an adult passenger of a motor vehicle violates this section if the [person, being the] operator or [an] adult passenger [of a motor vehicle,] leaves the motor vehicle for five minutes or longer when [an unattended] a child or domestic animal is left unattended inside the vehicle, regardless of whether the operator or adult passenger is charged with the care or custody of the child[.] or domestic animal.

(b) Any law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue team personnel who observes a child or domestic animal left unattended in a motor vehicle and determines that the unattended child or domestic animal is in physical danger, or poses a danger to others, may use whatever means are reasonably necessary to protect the child or domestic animal or others and remove the child or domestic animal from the motor vehicle. If the [person who left] operator or adult passenger of the motor vehicle with an unattended child or domestic animal inside cannot be located within a reasonable time, the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue team personnel, upon removing the child or domestic animal from the motor vehicle, shall immediately report the matter to a police officer, as defined under section [[]587A-4[]], who may assume protective custody of the child or domestic animal without a court order and without the consent of the child's family[.] or the owner of the domestic animal, as applicable.

(c) Any person who:

(1) Has summoned or attempted to summon a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue team personnel to protect a child or domestic animal left unattended in a motor vehicle as provided in subsection (b); and

(2) Has a reasonable belief, based upon the facts and circumstances known to the person at the time, that a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue team personnel will not arrive in time to protect the unattended child or domestic animal from an imminent physical danger that requires immediate action,

may use whatever means are reasonably necessary to protect the child or domestic animal or others and remove the child or domestic animal from the motor vehicle. If the operator or adult passenger of the motor vehicle with an unattended child or domestic animal inside cannot be located within a reasonable time, the person, upon removing the child or domestic animal from the motor vehicle, shall immediately report the matter to a police officer, as defined under section 587A-4, who may assume protective custody of the child or domestic animal without a court order and without the consent of the child's family or the owner of the domestic animal, as applicable.

[(c) Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and rescue team personnel] (d) No person shall [not] be liable in any civil action to any party for any act performed in good faith [under this section.] and in accordance with subsection (b) or (c), as applicable, to remove an unattended child or domestic animal from a motor vehicle or to otherwise protect the unattended child or domestic animal.

[(d)] (e) As used in this section:

"Child" means a person under the age of nine.

"Rescue team personnel" means physicians, basic life support personnel, advanced life support personnel, surgeons, nurses, volunteers, or employees of the owners or operators of a hospital or authorized emergency vehicle who have been trained in basic or advanced life support and have been charged by the owners or operators of the hospital or authorized emergency vehicle with providing life support and resuscitation to persons who are in immediate danger of loss of life in cases of emergency.

"Unattended" means leaving a child[:] or domestic animal:

(1) Alone in a motor vehicle; or

(2) In a motor vehicle with a minor under the age of twelve."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Unattended Child or Domestic Animal in Motor Vehicle

 

Description:

Amends the violation of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle to (1) include domestic animals left unattended in motor vehicles; and (2) expand the immunity from civil liability for first responders who remove unattended children from motor vehicles, to include any person who, after summoning first responders, removes an unattended child or domestic animal from a motor vehicle to address an imminent danger requiring immediate action.

 

 

 

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