July 4, 2023

Have you ever had the baby sleeping in the car but you didn’t want to wake them up and you needed to pay for petrol? Or have you left your toddler in the car with the window down while you ran into the café to order a takeaway coffee, thinking you were only going to be gone for a few minutes? Well this is actually an offence in Australia.

Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, it is an offence to leave a child that is in your care in a motor vehicle without supervision if during that time the child is or is likely to become emotionally distressed, or if the child’s health is likely to become either permanently or temporarily impaired. It is actually punishable by a fine of up to $22,000.

During the summer months, research has shown that the temperature inside a parked car can be as much as 30 degrees higher than outside within 20 minutes. The risk of dehydration and heatstroke in young children is alarming because their body temperatures rise much faster than an adult, and leaving the window down may only do more harm than good, being that it can let in additional heat rather than cool the car down. There was recently a situation in Melbourne where a mother left her 14-month-old son in a car on an almost 40 degree day. He ended up in a critical condition at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

There’s also the risk that someone could crash into the car if it’s parked on the curb, or it could be stolen, with your child inside.

There are just too many risks with leaving babies or young children in the car unattended and unsupervised. If you need to leave the car and you have a baby or young child in your care, it will only take an extra few minutes to take them out of their car seat to take them with you.

This information and information published on our website and social media sites is general in nature and for information and entertainment purposes only.  This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  If you require legal advice which takes into account your personal circumstances, please contact us for an appointment.