NRS 202.485: Nevada’s Laws Against Leaving Children Unattended in Vehicles
Leaving your children unattended in a motor vehicle can be a dangerous choice that puts their safety at risk. Nevada has taken steps to protect against this type of behavior by passing NRS 202.485, which prohibits leaving children unattended in vehicles and sets out penalties for those who violate the law.
Despite being “common sense,” leaving a child (or a pet) in your motor vehicle is a recurring thing in Nevada to the point where the police and other city officials have to put out reminders to check your seats.
In this article, we will explore NRS 202.485 and its implications for parents or guardians who may find themselves accused of violating it. We’ll look at what the law defines as a “motor vehicle” and “child,” prohibited acts under NRS 202.485, potential penalties for violating it, exceptions to the rule, and more frequently asked questions about this important issue so you can make informed decisions about your legal rights if charged with such an offense.
If you, or someone you know, is charged with leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, it’s important to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide advice and counsel on your specific case. An attorney can help you understand the legal implications of NRS 202.485 and ensure that your rights are protected.
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at NRS 202.485 and what it entails.
Overview of NRS 202.485
NRS 202.485 is a Nevada law that makes it unlawful to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle. The statute reads:
1. A parent, legal guardian or other person responsible for a child who is 7 years of age or younger shall not knowingly and intentionally leave that child in a motor vehicle if:
(a) The conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child; or
(b) The engine of the motor vehicle is running or the keys to the vehicle are in the ignition,
Ê unless the child is being supervised by and within the sight of a person who is at least 12 years of age.
But before we dive into the details of the, it’s important to define some key terms.
Under NRS 202.483, a “motor vehicle” is any self-propelled vehicle that is not operated upon rails.
Basically, this means any type of passenger car, automobile, truck, van, minivan, or other type of motor-driven vehicle. As mentioned, trains, which run on rails, are excluded.
A “child,” as used in the statute, is defined as any person who is 7 years old or younger.
With those definitions out of the way, let’s discuss the prohibited acts that NRS 202.485 forbids.
Prohibited Acts Under NRS 202.485
NRS 202.485 makes it unlawful for a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is 7 years of age or younger to knowingly and intentionally leave that child in a motor vehicle if:
a. The conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child; or
b. The engine of the motor vehicle is running or the keys to the vehicle are in the ignition unless the child is being supervised by and within sight of a person who is at least 12 years of age.
While the statute may seem like common sense, here are some examples of where this might happen:
- You did some grocery shopping with your two-year old. As you were loading the groceries into your car, you realized you forgot to buy something. You decide to leave your child in the car while you go back inside the store to grab that item you forgot.
- You stop at a gas station, turn off the engine, and proceed to pump gas. While waiting, you decide to go inside the store to buy some snacks, leaving her 5-year-old daughter in the car by herself.
- You and your child are in the drive-through line to buy Starbucks coffee. However, you noticed that the store is empty, so you decide to leave the drive-through queue and park your car and leave your child inside while you go inside to make the purchase.
Penalties for Leaving a Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle
The penalty for violating NRS 202.485 is a misdemeanor charge. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you may face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Subsection 2 of the statute provides some additional information on the penalties. It reads,
A person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a misdemeanor. The court may suspend the proceedings against a person who is charged with violating subsection 1 and dismiss the proceedings against the person if the person presents proof to the court, within the time specified by the court, that the person has successfully completed an educational program satisfactory to the court. The educational program must include, without limitation, information concerning the dangers of leaving a child unattended or inadequately attended in a motor vehicle.
Under this subsection, the person is given the opportunity to avoid being convicted of a misdemeanor and instead complete an educational program. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that NRS.485 exists for a very good reason: to protect children from harm.
It’s essential to understand and respect the law in order to keep children safe. So if you’re ever tempted to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle, remember that you could be held criminally responsible for putting their health and safety at risk.
Exceptions to this Nevada Law
There are some exceptions to NRS 202.485 that allow a parent, legal guardian, or other people responsible for a child who is 7 years of age or younger to leave them in a motor vehicle if the conditions do not present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child.
For instance, it’s permitted to leave a 7 year-old or younger in the vehicle if the engine is not running and the keys are not in the ignition. In addition, a person 12 years of age or older must be present and supervising the child at all times.
The statute also provides an exemption if you accidentally lock yourself out of your vehicle with the child inside.
With proper representation, you may stand a chance to escape conviction for the alleged violation. Here are a couple of defenses your attorney may employ:
- Safe conditions: If you can show that the conditions were safe and posed no risk to the child, then your attorney may argue that your case falls outside the prohibited behavior listed in the law. For example, if you left your child in the car with the windows down and the temperature outside was mild, your attorney may argue that there was no negligence on your part.
- Lack of intention: Another common defense strategy is to argue that you did not act intentionally. For example, if you accidentally locked your keys in the car with your child inside, you may not be guilty of any crime.
You should also know that the prosecution bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and your defense attorney will ensure that the prosecution meets this threshold. With your attorney’s guidance, you may be able to avoid a criminal conviction.
However, you should not underestimate the gravity of the charges and the potential harm that leaving a child unattended may cause. We urge you seek professional legal help to clear your name if you’re wrongly accused.
Charged with Leaving Your Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle
If you are facing criminal charges for leaving your child unattended in a motor vehicle, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They will be able to review the facts and help build a strong defense on your behalf. Your lawyer can also assist you if you are eligible for the educational program mentioned in NRS 202.485, as this may be an option for you to avoid criminal liability.
The Defenders are highly experienced in Nevada criminal law, and can provide you with the legal guidance and representation needed to protect your rights. Our knowledgeable lawyers will make sure that you have the best chance of a successful outcome. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and how we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I leave my child in my car if I will only be gone for a while?
No. NRS 202.485 prohibits leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, regardless of the length of time, without exception.
What are the penalties for leaving a child unattended in Nevada?
Under NRS 202.485, you may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Are there exemptions to the NRS 202.485 law?
Yes. NRS 202.485 provides an exemption if the conditions of the vehicle do not present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child or if you accidentally locked yourself out of your car with your child inside.