Zero Tolerance Policy for Children Left in Vehicles

City of Kyle Texas Official Website

The Kyle Police Department is issuing a Zero Tolerance Policy for children left in vehicles.  This has been an ongoing problem in America with hundreds of children losing their life.

Kyle is not exempt from this problem with at least four cases already being reported in 2014. First responders in the City of Kyle were dispatched to over a dozen cases last year and many more are believed to have gone unreported.

“We are receiving an increasing amount of calls from concerned citizens regarding children as well as animals left in vehicles as temperatures rise,” said Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett.   “Our strengthened enforcement actions are being enacted to secure the safety of children and pets left in unsafe conditions.” 

At least 44 children in the U.S. became a victim to heatstroke deaths in vehicles in 2013.  These children were either left in or gained access to hot vehicles. Research has showed this can occur on days as mild as 70 degrees F.

A study from 606 child vehicular heatstroke deaths for a 14 year period (1998-2013), showed the following circumstances:

52% - child “forgotten” by caregiver
29% - child playing in unattended vehicle
18% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
1% - circumstances unknown

The deaths from this time period ranged from five days old to 14 years.


Temperatures can be up to forty degrees warmer inside a vehicle.  Average elapsed time and temperature rise:

10 minutes =19 degrees F
20 minutes = 29 degrees F
30 minutes = 34 degrees F
60 minutes = 43 degrees F

“Cracking” the window had little effect and vehicle interior color is likely the biggest factor.

An equally deadly concern is auto theft.  Nearly 65,000 cars and trucks are stolen each year in Texas.  Almost half of all vehicles stolen had the keys left inside.  Even if a caretaker has view of the vehicle it can take only seconds until a criminal enters and is driving off in your vehicle with your child.

In addition to the moral responsibility is the legal responsibility.  A caregiver can be charged with a class C misdemeanor or up to a felony, depending upon the circumstances.  Kyle Police will also notify Child Protective Services regarding each instance where a child is found unattended in a car.

Animals are also covered under the law.  City Ordinance, Animals in Motor Vehicles, states it is unlawful for any person to leave any animal in any standing or parked vehicle in such a way as to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence endanger the animal’s health, safety or welfare.  An animal control officer or police officer is authorized to use reasonable force to remove the animal from the vehicle whenever it appears the animal’s health, safety or welfare is or will be endangered if the owner of the vehicle cannot be located after reasonable attempts.  Violation of this ordinance is a class C misdemeanor.

Safety Tips:

  • Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
  • Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.  IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE POOL FIRST, AND THEN THE CAR, INCLUDING THE TRUNK. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area. 
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.
  • Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
  • Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
  • Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.

Please call 911 or Kyle PD non-emergency, 512-268-3232 to report any dangerous situation.


The following laws were enacted in 1984 and 1985:

Texas Penal Code, Section 22.10.  Leaving a Child in Vehicle.

A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than give minutes, knowing the child is:

younger than seven years of age; and
not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older

An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Texas Penal Code, Section 22.041. Abandoning or Endangering Child. 

In this section, “abandon” means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability.
A person commits an offense if, having custody, care or control of a child younger than 15 years, he intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. 
A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.  (Offense under this section are felonies)

Texas Penal Code, Section 42.092, Cruelty to Non-livestock Animals, states a person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody; abandons unreasonably an animal in the person’s custody; transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner; a class A misdemeanor.