Left Your Kid In The Car? Yeah, You Just Committed A Crime In Texas.
It seems like such a simple thing, right? Pulling your kid out of the car while you run in somewhere.
Those with kids though will argue it's simplicity.
It's not that they're bad parents, I can tell you from experience that the ensuing fit that could be thrown makes you think long and hard about leaving them in the car. However, it's probably not your best move.
I'll be the first to tell you I've done it before. I'm just running into the gas station to grab a quick drink. I turn back and look at my boys. "You wanna stay in here or come in?" I ask. Usually the response is, "I'll just wait here". So yeah, I lock the doors and head inside.
IS IT AGAINST THE LAW TO DO THAT
The technical answer here is, yes. It is indeed illegal to leave your child in the car by themselves. It's classified as a Class C misdemeanor. Now, there are some limitations to it. It's not just children of any age in general, so if your 14 year old is being a bit extra, you should be fine.
WHEN IS IT CONSIDERED ILLEGAL
According to Texas Penal Code, this particular offense is considered a crime if the child is under seven years of age and is not being supervised by someone 14 years or older for longer than five minutes. If the child is over the age of seven, then they are ok...but it's not recommended to leave them in the car for long periods of time of course.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT
Leaving a child unattended in a car charges can hit you in the wallet to the tune of up to $500. However, if authorities deem it bad enough, they can add a charge of neglectful supervision. If you get hit with that, you could find yourself in jail for up to one year as well as fines of up to $4,000.
Long story short, just bring the kids in with you if they don't meet the age requirement or if you feel they aren't capable of being alone in the car for a couple of minutes. It's not worth the risk of what could happen, nor is it worth adding to a criminal record.