Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kati Carbonneau's Words To The Marana Town Council

Kati did an amazing job addressing the Marana Town Council this evening. Unfortunately they chose to not readdress this awfully written ordinance and let it pass anyway.

"Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion about the proposed ordinance.

I do not believe that it is right to spell out every step that one person is allowed or not allowed to take, however there are some guidelines that we should follow, and do. Everyday I make decisions concerning the welfare of my children, and many times I disagree with how other people take care of their children. It is not however up to me to tell them what to do. If a child is in danger or their health is at risk I understand that it may be necessary to involve an officer of the law. At that point it would be to their disgression of how to handle the circumstance.

If we look at the ordinance, beginning with Section one:

Let's say that it is 115 degrees outside so I start the car to cool it down. I put my children in their seats and then walk around the car to get in. I have left a child without someone 14 yrs old in the car and the car is running. There is no question that at that moment I have broken the law how it is written. It is black and white, the motor vehicle engine is running and my children are alone.

The officer HAS to write me a ticket and give me the class 1 misdemeanor. Anyone would agree that the punishment does not fit the crime in this situation.

Even if I am just returning my empty grocery cart to a stall, running back inside my house for my purse or phone, talking to a neighbor outside of my car, or returning a movie to the drop off slot...if my car is running I am at fault, and again the punishment does not fit the crime.

Section A does not say how far away I can be, it does not say I have to be in line of sight, nor does it say how long is too long to be away.

With 3 children under 4 and another on the way, I know I cannot take my children into my home all at the same time. Someone has to be last to get out, and they usually fall asleep on the way home from going into town, there are too many situations that could happen where I could be fined according to this law, and yet I do not feel I am putting my children in any danger.

I've already mention parts of section 3 when talking about fines, but as I said before I feel the penalties are too steep. I do not feel it is right to have a MANDATORY MINIMUM and if there needs to be a fine, then it should match the degree of danger of the situation. Should I be scared to call for help when my children accidently get locked in the car while I am standing at the door (with the car running or not!)? Will I be fined for trying to get help?

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. There are a few other's in the audience that I have spoken with, that have the same concerns that I do.

Whatever we decide to change or pass, I would hope that the council would not pass this ordinance as it stands and not burden parents with strict penalties from laws that open themselves to loose interpretations."

This is what Marana passed:

Section 11-8-1 Prohibited conduct

It is unlawful to leave a child who is under ten years of age in a motor vehicle

without supervision by another person in the motor vehicle who is at least 14

years of age if either of the following applies:

A. The conditions tend to present a risk to the child’s health, safety or welfare; or

B. The motor vehicle engine is running or the key to the motor vehicle is located

in the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle.

Section 11-8-2 Protection of children by town

A. Any peace officer is authorized to use whatever force is reasonable and necessary

to remove any child from a motor vehicle whenever it appears that the

child’s life or health is endangered by extreme temperatures, lack of ventilation

or any other condition existing within the motor vehicle.

{00012044.DOC / 3} - 2 - JF 2/3/09

B. No peace officer shall be liable for damages to property caused by the use of

reasonable force to remove a child from a motor vehicle as described in this


Section 11-8-3 Violation; penalty

A. A violation of this chapter is a class 1 misdemeanor.

B. A person convicted of violating this chapter shall be fined not less than

$1,000. The magistrate may not grant probation in lieu of or otherwise suspend

the imposition of the minimum fine prescribed by this paragraph

I had the following underlined section in what I was going to say, but cut it out because I knew I only had three minutes...

I would hope it would never happen, but technically, if I am pumping gas at the gas station (my car is turned off) and my children are in the car, for all I know, an officer could decide it was too hot that day for them and I could be fined, because no one older than 14 is in the car.

Like I said before, I don't think they should tell me every step to take or not to take, but I also think the law in this case is too broad for such a steep penalty.

In reading the Cover sheet for this ordinance it seemed as if someone felt that because there is a law about animals being left in a car, than there should be one about the safety of children too. I think we have enough laws that can be interpreted to cover the safety of children, regardless of where they are at that we really don't need another one spelling out the car as the specific danger.

When reading on in section two of the ordinance I would agree that any peace officer should not feel they cannot save someone's life without being sued for damages to a vehicle. I would not oppose an ordinance covering that topic alone.

Go here...http://www.tucsonaz.gov/agdocs/20080923/sept23-08-523.pdf

to see a general idea of what the city of Tucson passed just this last September. It seems almost word for word what we passed, but notice you can take 24hrs of classes to educate you on the topic and then you don't have a fine.

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