Raise for Kaitlyn

In California, Kaitlyn’s Law Makes it Illegal to Leave Young Children in Cars Unattended.

Why do people leave a young child unattended in a car?

The most common reason is that loving parents/caregivers have simply forgotten the child was in the car. And sometimes, a child crawls unnoticed into a car.

What is Kaitlyn’s Law?

Since 2001, it has been illegal in California to leave a child age 6 or younger inside a motor vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old. The law is named for 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell, who died from heat related causes after being left alone in a car. What can happen to a child left unattended in a car? On average, 37 children die each year from heat-related deaths after being left inside motor vehicles. Sadly, as of December 2017, 43 kids nationwide have perished this way!

How long does it take for the inside of a car to heat up?

Within just 10 minutes the temperature inside a car can rise to 20 degrees higher than the outside air. So if it is 100 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can hit 120 degrees in that time. Those were the conditions under which Kaitlyn died.

Is it okay to leave a child in car if:

  • Parent/caregiver has visual contact with child? NO.
  • Car is on your driveway or street outside your house? NO.
  • It is only for a few minutes? NO.
  • It is not hot outside? NO.

What are the consequences to the caregiver/parent?

A monetary fine or possibly jail time.

What do I do if I see a child left unattended in a car?

  • Seconds count! Call 911 immediately.
  • Alert the parent/caregiver and a security guard if they are nearby.
  • Check the door. If it is unlocked open the door. If it is locked, talk to the child with a comforting tone and ask the child if they can unlock the door.

What are some tips to keep a child safe?

  • No matter how rushed you are, be sure to look in the back seat every time you leave your car.
  • Don’t overlook sleeping babies and backwards facing car seats. Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. After putting your child in the seat, place the stuffed animal in front with you to remind yourself.
  • Place your purse, briefcase, or cell phone in the back seat.

Share these tips with everyone you know who cares for a child (parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends).

Read “Kaitlyn’s Law”

California Senate Bill 255
Unattended Child in Motor Vehicle Act “Kaitlyn’s Law”
California Vehicle Code Sections 15620, 15630, 15632


(a) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:

(1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety.
(2) When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both.

(b) A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100), except that the court may reduce or waive the fine if the defendant establishes to the satisfaction of the court that he or she is economically disadvantaged and the court, instead, refers the defendant to a community education program that includes education on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles, and provides certification of completion of that program. Upon completion of that program, the defendant shall provide that certification to the court. The court may, at its discretion, require any defendant described in this section to attend an education program on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles.

(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and Section 192 of the Penal Code, or Section 273a of that code, or any other provision of law.

(d) (1) Subdivision (b) and Section 40000.1 do not apply if an unattended child is injured or medical services are rendered on that child because of a violation described in subdivision (a).

(2) Nothing in this subdivision precludes prosecution under any other provision of law.

15630. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the fines collected for a violation of this division shall be allocated by the county treasurer, as follows:

(a) (1) Seventy percent to the county or city health department where the violation occurred, to be used for the development and implementation of community education programs on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles.

(2) A county or city health department may develop and implement the community education program described in paragraph (1) or may contract for the development and implementation of that program.

(3) As the proceeds from fines collected under this division become available, each county or city health department shall prepare and annually update a listing of community education programs that provide information on the dangers of leaving young children unattended in motor vehicles and ways to avoid that danger. The county or city health department shall forward the listing to the courts and shall make the listing available to the public, and may distribute it to other agencies or organizations.

(b) Fifteen percent to the county or city for the administration of the program, from which will be paid the cost of the county to account for and disburse fine revenues.

(c) Fifteen percent to the city, to be deposited in its general fund except that, if the violation occurred in an unincorporated area, this amount shall be deposited in the county’s general fund.

15632. (a) The department shall include information concerning the dangers of leaving children unattended in motor vehicles, including, but not limited to, the effect of solar heat on the temperature of vehicle interiors and the penalties for noncompliance with Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 15620), in the following materials distributed by the department:

(1) The California Driver’s Handbook published under subdivision (b) of Section 1656.

(2) The driver’s license examination administered under Section 12804.9, by including, on a rotating basis, at least one question in one version of the driver’s license examination that is periodically administered to applicants.

(3) Any driver’s education materials certified by the department.

(4) Courses and examinations for traffic violator schools.

(5) Materials provided to secondary and post‐secondary schools and educational institutions.

(6) Any materials provided to community education campaigns undertaken by the department and other state agencies, including, but not limited to, the Department of the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation.

(b) The department shall not republish materials before existing supplies are exhausted, but shall arrange for compliance with this section in the next edition or publication of those materials in the normal course of business.

Source: SENATE COMMITTEE ON Public Safety

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