Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Indiana House Bill 1095 Passenger Restraint System - Legislation Part 5

Representative Clyde Kersey has introduced a bill to make it a felony offense for a child to be injured or killed in a motor vehicle wreck if the child was not properly restrained.

House Bill 1095 affects the following citations : IC 9-19-11. The synopsis is as follows:
Synopsis: Passenger restraint systems for children. Makes it a Class D felony for a person to knowingly or intentionally operate a motor vehicle in which there is a child less than eight years of age who is not properly restrained and the motor vehicle is involved in an accident that causes serious bodily injury to the child. Raises the offense to a Class C felony if the accident results in the death of the child. Makes conforming amendments.

Improving the safety and well-being of children is an admirable pursuit. A problem that I have with this type of motivational legislation is that it punishes the conduct upon a showing of adverse results. While the underlying conduct – not restraining a child while operating a motor vehicle – can be the same for similar parties the punishment for doing so is contingent upon becoming dissimilar through circumstances most often attributed to luck or misfortune based upon which side you fall.

The result is that a child is injured or killed and then the law steps in to dole out a punishment. I would rather see the resources of the state expended on providing the restraint devices, instruction or demonstrations on use and information about potential harm from misuse or lack of use to parents rather than paying for the cost of prosecution and incarceration.

The bill makes bad luck a criminal offense. You drive safely and legally but a dump truck runs a red light, plows over the back half of your car and your unrestrained child is killed. Someone else goes through the same experience except that their restrained child is killed. The results are the same but because you failed to take an inconsequential act you face a Class C felony conviction during your time of intense grief.

I therefore am unable to lend my support to this bill that turns criminal punishment into a lottery.

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