November 25, 2014

Bill would criminalize intoxicated co-sleeping deaths

A state lawmaker wants to criminalize intoxicated co-sleeping deaths, and provide education to help prevent them from occurring. It can happen when a parent gets drunk or high and then gets in bed with an infant.

“It came to light for me, unfortunately, with a case in Kenosha County, where a father had fallen asleep with a child on his chest. He had been drinking that evening, rolled over and woke up about two hours later and the baby had died,” said Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake).

Kerkman’s bill would make it a felony to harm or kill an infant by co-sleeping while intoxicated, using the same .08 standard of intoxication contained in the state’s drunken driving statutes. “Parents have a choice,” Kerkman said. “If you decide to go out and drink . . . don’t get into bed with your child.”

The bill also has an education component, requiring new parents and high school students to receive safe-sleep training, and Kerkman said if the criminal penalties never have to be applied, she’d “be very happy.” But she noted there have been ten co-sleeping deaths in the state this year.