What the law says about leaving your child in the car while you pay for petrol

| 14.11,17. 06:48 AM |




What the law says about leaving your child in the car while you pay for petrol



Photo: Do you wake a sleeping baby? That in itself is a tough choice for parents. (Flickr: Miki Yoshihito)


It's a dilemma faced by most parents at some point — you've got a young child asleep in the back of a car, you've just filled up with petrol at the servo, and the time's come to go inside and pay.

?So what do you do now

Wake the baby and bring them in with you? Or leave them behind for just a minute or two with the window cracked?

The question was the question put to followers of ABC Brisbane on Facebook yesterday.

The results were mixed, and it was clear to see there is no straight answer to this.

We did a bit of digging around to find out what the law has to say on the matter:

?What does the law say

In Queensland, the criminal code, section 364a, under the title "Leaving a child under 12 unattended", states:
1.A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum penalty - 3 years' imprisonment.
2.Whether the time is unreasonable depends on all the relevant circumstances.

It's been in Queensland's criminal code for nearly a decade. Under the previous law parents could only be punished if their unattended child was injured or suffered neglect.

?So what does it mean


It depends.

"It all has to come down to each individual situation," Shine Lawyers partner and special counsel Will Barsby says.

"In theory someone may be prosecuted by the police, but the powers are more there to protect children from greater things … things you hear about like a kid left in a hot car while mum and dad are in the casino and the like."


"The law in Queensland all comes down to reasonableness … so leaving kids inside a car for a reasonable period of time to duck in or out really comes down to each individual circumstances.

Mr Barsby recommended applying a "sensibility test".

"So can you see your kids, are the windows wound down, is the car close?" he said.

"In that type of situation I would say you have a good argument to say the kid is not unattended because they're within your sight.

"But of course it's a bit different if you need to go for a longer period of time.


"I don't think it's breaking the law just to pop in. These laws are there to protect kids from greater dangers."

"But when push comes to shove I'd apply that sensibility test."

For example, Mr Barsby said a parent could argue a child is not unattended if they quickly pop into pay at a service station and the child's within their sight.

"But if you're at the servo and you can see the line is 15 people deep because they've been lining up for the cheap fuel, maybe that's the instance you have to get out, take the two kids with you and line up, or come back another time with someone to help you."

?What does the RACQ recommend

To make other arrangements, if possible.

"Our advice to parents has always been never leave a child unattended in a car," Steve Spalding, RACQ's head of technical and safety policy, said.

"If you have to do errands or go into the the servo or something like that, wherever possible, if it's practical, make other arrangements to leave the child where they're safer at home rather than putting them at risk of being unattended in a vehicle."

In Queensland it goes without saying we have extremely hot temperatures at certain times of the year.


"We know from our own testing that a car can go from ambient to 40 degrees Celsius which is considered the risk point, and it can do that in seven to eight minutes."

"The scenarios might be unlikely or rare, but if you've got a child in a car and you can't get back into that vehicle, it's an added problem that if you can avoid it it's better too."

What to do if your child gets locked in a car

Remember to stay calm and think clearly.

You can call RACQ — it doesn't matter if you're a member or not.

"If we can get to the car quickly we will," Mr Spalding said.


"If there's an concern at all the child is distressed or in danger or anything that looks like they may be suffering from heat exposure just call emergency services straight away.

"Most cars can be accessed reasonably quickly if you have the right techniques and we certainly do.

"One thing we say certainly never do is try smash a window and get into a car, it's much more difficult than you think and you can easily injure the child inside or yourself."

RACQ receives four to five calls every single day to rescue a child locked in a car.

What did social media have to say on the matter?

Plenty!

The ABC Brisbane Facebook page received more than 150 comments from parents arguing for and against bringing their children into the petrol station when it's time to pay:

In Queensland it goes without saying we have extremely hot temperatures at certain times of the year.


"We know from our own testing that a car can go from ambient to 40 degrees Celsius which is considered the risk point, and it can do that in seven to eight minutes."

"The scenarios might be unlikely or rare, but if you've got a child in a car and you can't get back into that vehicle, it's an added problem that if you can avoid it it's better too."

What to do if your child gets locked in a car

Remember to stay calm and think clearly.

You can call RACQ — it doesn't matter if you're a member or not.

"If we can get to the car quickly we will," Mr Spalding said.


"If there's an concern at all the child is distressed or in danger or anything that looks like they may be suffering from heat exposure just call emergency services straight away.

"Most cars can be accessed reasonably quickly if you have the right techniques and we certainly do.

"One thing we say certainly never do is try smash a window and get into a car, it's much more difficult than you think and you can easily injure the child inside or yourself."

RACQ receives four to five calls every single day to rescue a child locked in a car.

?What did social media have to say on the matter

Plenty!

The ABC Brisbane Facebook page received more than 150 comments from parents arguing for and against bringing their children into the petrol station when it's time to pay:

abc


(Votes: 0)

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