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CS/CS/HB 131 — Unattended Persons and Animals in Motor Vehicles

by Judiciary Committee; Civil Justice Subcommittee; and Reps. Young, Moskowitz, and others (CS/CS/SB 308 by Judiciary Committee; Criminal Justice Committee; and Senators Benacquisto and Evers)

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Criminal Justice Committee (CJ)

The bill (Chapter 2016-18) creates immunity from civil liability for property damage that may occur when an individual attempts to rescue a minor, elderly or disabled adult, or domestic animal from a motor vehicle.

In order to qualify for such immunity, the individual must:

  • Determine that the vehicle is locked or there is no other reasonable method for the minor, elderly or disabled person, or animal to get out of the vehicle without help;
  • Have a good faith and reasonable belief, based upon the known circumstances, that it is necessary to enter the vehicle because the minor, vulnerable adult, or animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm;
  • Contact a law enforcement agency or 911 before entering the vehicle or immediately thereafter;
  • Use no more force than necessary to make entry into the vehicle and remove the person or animal; and
  • Stay with the person or animal in a safe location, in reasonable proximity to the vehicle, until a law enforcement officer or other first responder arrives.

Good Samaritans who enter a motor vehicle to rescue an endangered person or animal may be subject to criminal penalty for tampering or interfering with a motor vehicle under s. 860.17, F.S., or trespass in a conveyance under s. 810.08, F.S. The immunity provided by the bill does not appear to absolve a Good Samaritan of any potential criminal liability in such cases.

These provisions became law upon approval by the Governor on March 8, 2016.

Vote: Senate 38-0; House 118-0