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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Proposal allowing people to break into cars to save people, pets gets first hearing



Legislation aimed at curbing the number of hot-car deaths in Florida will get its first hearing this afternoon.

House Bill 131, sponsored by House Republican Leader Dana Young, of Tampa, and Rep. Jared Evan Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, adds a provision to Florida's "Good Samaritan Act" -- which would allow people to break into vehicles in order to remove a senior citizen, person with disabilities, child or pet if there is a "good faith belief" that person or animal is "in imminent danger of suffering harm."

Under the bill, the person breaking into the vehicle could not be held civilly liable for the damage, so long as they call 911 beforehand and remain with the person or pet until emergency services arrive. More here.

Today's hearing starts at 1 p.m. before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. A House staff analysis noted a potentially problematic loophole: The immunity granted by the bill doesn't protect against criminal prosecution, should the vehicle's owner wish to seek that.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Fort Myers Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto, but it has not been scheduled for any hearings yet.

Since 1998, 72 people in Florida -- including four this year -- have died from being left in hot cars. The incidents often involve children left unattended.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 1:26pm]


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