New Law in Arizona Allows People to Smash Windows, Break In, to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

By Bowen Xiao

Starting on Wednesday, Aug. 9, hundreds of new laws go into effect in the state of Arizona. The biggest and probably most talked about law aims to end hot car deaths from happening.

Dubbed the “hot car bill” also known as the House Bill 2494, allows people to rescue children and pets from being trapped inside hot cars by smashing windows or breaking in if there is no other way to rescue the child or pet.

The main aim is to allow good Samaritans nearby to take action and be protected by the law when they see a hot car casualty, according to ABC 15.

If someone sees a hot car incident, the first thing they have to do is call 911 and then check if the doors are locked. Even if it’s locked, they are allowed to smash a window or break into the vehicle to free the child or pet trapped inside.

As soon as a helpful passerby has done all the above steps, they must then wait at the scene until first responders arrive.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, said in a recent state speech that he would sign any bill that would protect the good Samaritans.

“All it takes is a good Samaritan to save a life. To be on the lookout, see movement, take action, and stop another death. The last thing we’d want is any Arizonan worried about breaking into that car to save a life. Send me a bill protecting the good Samaritans who save the lives of children and pets—and I’ll sign it,” he said.

According to the bill’s description, any person who uses reasonable force to remove a child or domestic animal from a locked car “is not liable for damages in a civil action suit” but only if they follow certain conditions.

Some of those conditions include: having a strong belief that the trapped child or pet is in imminent danger or suffering physically, confirm that the car is locked and there is no other reasonable way to get inside and that the rescuer must not use more force than necessary under the circumstances.

Ashleigh Goebel from the Arizona Humane Society told ABC 15 the new law is setting the right tone.

“People don’t realize that a car even if it’s 80 degrees outside can reach deadly temperatures in just minutes and the situation can become life-threatening for a pet or a child,” Goebel said.

In the bill’s preface, it mentions how frequent hot car incidents occur in Arizona.

“Just last May in Phoenix, a woman left her dog in a car with windows down, air running and the dog died after several hours. We see similar stories like this all too often in the media in Arizona,” she said.

The bill also mentions that Arizona ranked third in the nation for all heat stroke related fatalities,

“Sadly, this past October, a 5-month-old baby died after being left in a car in Peoria, Arizona. This was the 35th child nationally to die of vehicular heat stroke in 2016. While not all incidents are reported, we do know that Arizona ranks third in the nation,” the bill reads.

 
 
 
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