New law protects people who break into cars to rescue kids, pets from heat

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Several new Arizona laws went into effect Wednesday, including one that protects people from getting sued for breaking into cars to rescue unsupervised children or pets from hot cars.

Valley temperatures can soar into the triple digits and make it 20 to 30 degrees hotter inside a car, which can become deadly for anyone locked inside of it.

[RELATED: Hot car deaths reach record numbers in July]

"Before today, if you felt reasonably if an animal or child was in danger, you could break a window," said Benjamin Taylor, an attorney with Taylor and Gomez, LLP. "After you broke their window to save their child or pet, that person who owned the car can sue you for the damage you caused to their vehicle."

Taylor said the new law changes that by protecting the good Samaritans from getting sued civilly from any damage they may cause to a car to save a life.

However, he explained if good Samaritans don't do these steps first, they could get in trouble.

[RELATED: More than 36 kids die in hot cars every year and there's no clear solution]

"You could still be charged civilly or criminally if you don't follow the law. You must follow the law first. You must check that the doors are locked and you must call the authorities before you break into a vehicle to save a child or animal," said Taylor.

If it came down to life or death and you felt the need to break a window, Taylor said it's in your best interest to pick a window that will least likely hurt the person or pet inside the car.

[RELATED: New hot car law goes into effect Wednesday]

"If a person were to break this window and the child wasn't in imminent danger, that person can be charged with assault or child abuse if that glass were to shatter in the child's eye," he explained.

On Wednesday, 3TV/CBS 5 went to Riteway Auto Parts, a salvage yard in South Phoenix to see what it would take to break a car window.

The general manager, Tim Martin, said most people keep a tire wrench inside their cars and that is a good tool to do the trick.

He recommends hitting the top part of the window because it's the most vulnerable part.

“If a citizen takes action, please make sure they remain at scene for police,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune. “Please also remind your viewers that family and friends should work together to remind each other if a child is being transported to and from. “

Fortune added, “Just check on each other to avoid these incidents. It is not ok to leave your child or pet in a vehicle even for a minute, temperatures are extremely high.”

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