Leaving a child alone in a car constitutes child abuse or neglect in New Jersey, a New Jersey court ruled Tuesday.

A state appeals court found a mother didn't exercise the minimum degree of care required by state law when she left her sleeping 19-month-old child in a locked car with the engine running and windows opened an inch while she shopped in a South Plainfield store in 2009.

The woman was gone five to ten minutes, but security called police after they saw the unattended child.

The court says a parent invites substantial peril when leaving a young child alone in a motor vehicle, no matter how briefly, unless there is an extenuating circumstance such as going into a store to purchase medicine.

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