Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed House Bill 131 into law, making it legal to break into someone’s vehicle, as long as you are rescuing either a dog or person trapped inside. So if you live in Florida and see a dog suffering in a car on a hot sunny day, you won’t face charges for the rescue attempt.
The aim of the law is only to save lives “in imminent danger of suffering harm.” It’s in direct response to recent events where both dogs and people (mostly babies) have suffered horribly in extremely hot cars and have died.
The law does not make breaking and entering a “free-for-all” type thing. There are strict guidelines on exactly how all of this will work. According to the language of the bill:
- First, you must be 100% sure that all of the doors on the vehicle are in fact locked.
- Next, you have to dial 911 or call local law enforcement either directly before or directly after you have broken in and rescued the subject in question.
- You must remain at the scene until law enforcement shows up, and the dog or person you rescued must be with you as well.
- Finally, you are still breaking the law if it is deemed that you used “excessive force” to break in.
This bill was pushed through thanks to help and support from House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. There was overwhelming, unanimous support in the Florida Legislature this session, and the law couldn’t have come at a better time of year.