DENVER – It is now legal in Colorado to break into hot cars to rescue at-risk people and animals.
The state law, dubbed the Good Samaritan bill, sailed through the state legislature earlier this year and became official this past Wednesday.
Any person who breaks into a vehicle to rescue an at-risk person or animal, as prescribed by the law’s parameters, won’t be subject to any penalties.
Before the law, people risked charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass or criminal tampering if they broke a car window to help people or animals escape the heat.
But before you break another person’s window, you’ll need to follow this checklist in order to avoid being charged:
The vehicle in question can’t be a law enforcement vehicle.
- An at-risk person or non-livestock animal has to be in the car, and the Good Samaritan must believe that person or animal is “in imminent danger of death or suffering serious bodily injury.
- The vehicle must be locked.
- The Good Samaritan must make a “reasonable effort” to find the vehicle’s owner and document the vehicle’s characteristics.
- The Good Samaritan must contact a law enforcement, fire, or animal control agency before they enter the vehicle.
- The Good Samaritan must not interfere with the duties or direction of a law enforcement agent or first responder.
- The Good Samaritan can’t use “more force than he or she believes is reasonably necessary.”
- The Good Samaritan must remain with the at-risk person or animal and near the vehicle until law enforcement or first responders arrive.
- If the Good Samaritan can’t stay at the scene until first responders or law enforcement arrive, they have to let the responders know and leave their contact information with the vehicle.
The law does not apply to livestock, the term of which the law covers: cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep, poultry, swine, llamas and goats.