My Friend Leaves Her Kids in the Car While Running Quick Errands. Is that Legal?

A mom writes in asking for advice. Her friend leaves her kids in the car while paying for gas or groceries, and this mom worries if it is legal or not. She worries about the kid’s safety and wonders if she should call cps. The friend’s kids are three years old and younger. She claims it is only for quick things, but this mom is still worried for the kids. Any advice for this mom?

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A member of the community asks:

“My friend leaves her kids in the car while paying, is that okay? I have a friend who has young kids three and under. She leaves them in the car to pay for gas or do something quick. But my question is, is that okay? I get it’s quick but it scares me. I feel like I should call cps but she claims it’s legal.”

– Mamas Uncut Community Member

Community Advice for This Concerned Mom

To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.

Advice Summary


EDITOR’S NOTE: It is currently illegal in 19 states to leave a young child unattended in a vehicle. Many other states have laws that are currently proposed or pending. And even in states without specific laws on the books, if a good samaritan or police officer spots a child in a vehicle unattended it may spark a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation. Our advice is never to leave a child young enough to need a car seat unattended, even to run a quick errand, and to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws.

This became a very controversial post. Almost all commenters felt that her friend leaving her kids in the car is in fact legal. One shared, “I wouldn’t say it was illegal but it is dangerous.” Another agreed, “She is correct. It’s legal; however, frowned upon in most cases.” Another said that it was “Poor judgment and potentially dangerous.”

However, the advice was very split in half. Some felt it was not safe on the mom’s part. One commented, “Nope! Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Never let your guard down because you are opening up a door for disaster that you will regret if anything happens.” Another shared her experience by saying, “My kids are 11 and 7. I never leave them alone even if it’s quick. They come with me. Better safe than sorry.”

More agreed and said, “I would never, I don’t care if I have both kids. They’re coming with me. This world is way too scary and I’d rather be safe than sorry. But I definitely wouldn’t call CPS on that.” Another made similar remarks by saying, “I personally don’t think it’s okay. I don’t think you should call CPS over it. But if you feel the children are being neglected or being put in harm’s way- then, by all means, call them.”

On the other hand, tons of commenters felt that it was completely okay for this friend to leave her kids in the car and that this mom was overreacting. One shared, “You are just paying for the gas, and it takes literally less than a minute. They’re not gonna swelter or freeze to death in less than a minute. Lock the doors, keeps the windows up if it’s cold, open the windows a little if it’s warm. Heat or air blows with just the battery turned on. They’re fine.” Another said, “As long as the car is locked and still on view I don’t see a problem waking away for 30 seconds.”

Many commenters also felt that there is no way she should call CPS. One said, “No you shouldn’t call CPS! If you have a concern and it’s a friend, mention it to her. Getting two small children under three out of car seats to walk in and pay for gas which usually takes one minute or less, is a huge hassle. If you don’t like it then don’t do it, but don’t cause trouble for her just because you don’t like it.” Another agreed and shared, “If you are concerned, talk to her. Don’t be one of those people who call CPS just because you don’t agree with how they parent.”

Do you have any advice for this mom? Leave a comment to help another mom out!

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