Warning: A Quick Starbucks Run May Lead to Jail Time

Pennsylvania lawmakers want to make it a felony to leave a child under 13 in a car alone. Currently, it's a misdemeanor. A third-degree felony can result in a prison term of 3 1/2 to 7 years and a fine of up to $15,000.


The bill is designed to stop people from going into casinos and gambling while they leave their children in the car, but opponents say it's punishing the responsible parents. Meanwhile the irresponsible parents will do it anyway.

There is some truth to that.


I would be lying if I said I never leave my babies in the car. There have been many times I forget something back inside and I run back into the house to get it. I haven't left them in the car while I run into Starbucks or to get my daughter at school, but I sure have considered it a few times.

In fact, the reason I haven't has less to do with what I actually think is right and much more to do with what others think is right because honestly? Car seats and multiple children do not quick trips make. If I leave them asleep in their seats and run into Starbucks to grab a Mocha Latte, lock the doors, and watch them from the store for the three minutes it takes to grab my drink, are things really going to happen?

Do I really need jail time because of that?

It's pretty sad that the only reason I don't leave my kids in the car is because I fear what people might think. I don't think there's anything wrong with leaving children in the car for brief periods if (and it's a big if) you're responsible and quick. I certainly don't believe that those people belong in the same jail cell as a person who leaves their 3-year-old in the parking lot in Vegas while they play hours of poker.

There is a happy medium. I would love to see if those legislators who are so arrest-happy ever needed to pick up their daughter five minutes before her preschool closed while her (teething, miserable) brother napped in the car. Would they run in, grab the girl, and run out? Or would they wake the baby up and wait for the hours of wrath that would follow?

Do you ever leave your baby in the car?


Image via Sasha Brown-Worsham

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