Breaking into a hot car? Here's what you need to do first

PHOENIX - A bill that removes liability for people who break into cars to rescue children or pets is on its way to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

But even if he signs it, as he said he would in January’s state of the state address, it doesn’t mean you can go around haphazardly breaking car windows on a hot day.

The legislation specifically states that a person must use “reasonable force” to rescue a minor or domestic animal, which the bill defines as a dog, cat or other animal that is kept as a household pet.

That means you need to go through this checklist before you try to break any windows:

1. You must have a “good faith belief” that the child or pet is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death unless removed from the vehicle.

The bill doesn't define what constitutes a good faith belief in this specific case. But in case you’re wondering, “good faith” means reasonable reliance on fact, without intent to deceive or be deceived.

2. Check if the vehicle is locked and there is no other reasonable way you can free the child or the animal.

3. This is a big one: Before entering the vehicle, you must notify a peace officer, deputy, first responder or animal control enforcement agency that there is a child or pet stuck in a hot car. 

4. Do not use more force than is necessary to enter the vehicle.

5. Stay with the child or pet until the authorities you contacted arrive.

If you fail to do any of these things before you force your way into a vehicle, you are not immune from civil liability.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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