Bills to Watch: The Karen Bill (LD 110)


LD 110, “An Act to Prohibit Leaving a Child Under 10 Years of Age Alone in a Motor Vehicle,” sponsored by Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston), would create a new traffic violation for leaving a child under 10 years of age unattended in a motor vehicle “under conditions that present a substantial health or safety risk to the minor.”

Violation of the law would amount in fines of $50, $100, and $250 for first, second, and third offenses, respectively. The full text of the bill can be read below.

While it’s obvious that unreasonably warm or cold temperatures could pose a risk to a child, the bill does not define what other types of conditions would present a substantial health and safety risk to a child, leaving it up to the discretion of the officer issuing the citation. But this raises many questions about what could be deemed unsafe.

As suggested by Steve Robinson of The Maine Wire, does the bill criminalize a parent who exits their vehicle to change a flat tire on the side of the highway, leaving the child alone in the car? What about a parent who briefly enters a gas station to pay the clerk in a dangerous city–would that warrant an infraction?

The bill was referred to the Transportation Committee on January 10. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.