The late spring has brought a rise in temperatures to Central Florida, and with the hot summer months right around the corner, people who leave their kids in the car unattended had better think again.

Efrain, from Lake Mary, asked:

Sometimes when I go to the grocery store, I see kids left in their cars. What exactly is the law regarding this and is it legal if the car is running and A.C. is on?

We asked Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes for the answer.

Her response: "Those moments that you think it's OK to leave a child in there could be deadly to that child, and it's against the law."

That was proven again recently, when a 16-month-old child of a assistant state attorney and public defender was found dead in a hot car in North Florida earlier in May.

"We've already seen the temperature soar over 90 degrees, which can actually make the in-car temperature well over 110 to 120," Montes explained.

Temperatures that high can be deadly.

So, what does state law say? Here's a summary:

  • You cannot leave a child under 6 alone in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.
  • If you do, it's a second-degree misdimeanor, which could cost you up to $500.
  • You also can't leave a child alone while the car is running, if their health is in danger, or if they appear to be in distress.

If the child ends up hurt — or worse, permanently disabled — you'll be looking at a third degree felony. That could land you in prison for five years.

If an officer sees a child alone in a car, that officer has the authority to damage your vehicle to protect the child.

"If we are unable to quickly find and locate that owner, we will take action to get that child out safely by breaking a window, or whatever means it takes to get into that car," Montes said.

If you have a traffic question, Ryan Harper can answer it. Send him your question.

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