Q: Can I leave my child unattended in the car while I return a shopping cart or drop something off inside?

Have you ever wondered if leaving your child or even young teenager in the car alone was against the law?  I have.  Today this very question was posted on my local  PATCH online news and the answer was given by a Washington State Patrol officer.

Image from PATCH
Image from PATCH

If you have tweens and/or teens like I do, who beg to stay in the car while I run in to drop off my dry cleaning, purchase stamps or even pick up a gallon of milk. Then I suggest you read the below question and answer to them so they understand  it is the law  when you say “No” .

Q: Can I leave my child unattended in the car while I return a shopping cart or drop something off inside? It’ll only take a minute.

A: It is unlawful for any person, while operating or in charge of a vehicle, to leave a minor child or children under 16 years old unattended in the vehicle. It is also illegal to park or willfully allow your vehicle to stand on a public highway or in a public place with its motor running, with a minor under 16 unattended in the vehicle.

Any person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this section, the department shall revoke the operator’s license of such person.

My advice… Don’t do it!  You just never know who you could be parked next to or around and it’s not even worth taking a chance.

– Trooper Gill

Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter

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