Baby Left in Car for 5 Hours as Mom Drank: Cops

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on March 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Pennsylvania woman was arrested after she allegedly left her 2-month-old baby in a cold car for five hours to go drink at a pub.

Police were summoned to a pub in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, after witnesses spotted an unattended infant in a minivan. The 2-month-old girl was only wearing a onesie and covered in a light blanket; the outdoor temperature was about 39 degrees at the time, according to The Express-Times.

The infant's mother, Lisa Altif, 32, was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.

Child Endangerment Alleged

Reports of children left in a vehicle in extreme weather conditions are far too common. For example, in the scorching summer heat, parents have left their babies in a hot vehicle to go gamble or take care of personal matters. For Altif and other parents leaving their children alone in cold cars, it could potentially lead to hypothermia.

In Pennsylvania, people who leave their children unattended in vehicles for a long period of time can be charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Any caregiver who "knowingly" endangers the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support, can potentially be convicted under the statute.

According to police reports, Altif had been inside the bar drinking for at least five hours while her infant daughter was inside the cold car. The only time Altif left the bar was to smoke cigarettes on the patio, so it's unclear whether she checked on her baby, The Express-Times reports.

Possible Punishment

Child endangerment is a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. So if the mom is convicted, she could face up to five years in prison. However, if there's a pattern of child endangerment, the charge can potentially be elevated to a third-degree felony.

While Altif didn't get behind the wheel after she was drinking, police reports indicate that she had a BAC of 0.126 percent at the time of her arrest. If she'd driven drunk with a minor in the car, she could also have faced a felony DUI, which has stuffer penalties and more lasting consequences than a misdemeanor charge.

In addition to child endangerment, Altif was also arrested for driving with a suspended license and driving an unregistered vehicle, according to The Express-Times. Her baby is now in state custody as authorities attempt to locate the child's father.

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