Kids in a toy car
Kids in a toy car are cute, but kids behind the wheel when a parent is drunk are not. Photo Credit: Nils Fretwurst/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

A man has been arrested in Detroit for putting his 9-year-old daughter behind the wheel because he was too drunk to drive. Though it sounds humorous, charges that stem from such actions are felonies.

Grade schooler puzzled

Weimer Shawn Russell, 39, was arrested in a suburb of Detroit, Mich., for putting his 9-year-old daughter at the helm of his van in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 16. Russell had been drinking whiskey all night, and decided to go out on a drive with a few people but knew he had to have someone else drive. He put his daughter behind the wheel.

A passing motorist tipped off police. When police stopped her, she asked why she had been pulled over; she felt she “was driving good.”

Felony charges await

Russell claims that he had been “teaching her to drive,” but police didn’t buy it. He is being charged with one felony count and one misdemeanor count of child abuse. Russell is also in violation of his probation, having been convicted of other crimes such as unarmed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Child endangerment charges are the usual result when someone has their unlicensed child ferry them around.

In July of this year, according to Reuters, Billie Joe Madden of Hattiesburg, Miss., was charged twice for child desertion, allowing a minor to drive, open container and two charges each of no restraints and no seatbelts on a child. Madden’s truck was being driven by his 8-year-old son with his 4-year-old daughter in the backseat while he slept off a bender. Madden and his children were on a road trip to Dallas, Texas.

When it goes wrong

Randy Lewis of Tennessee was arrested in 2008 after he put his 10-year-old son behind the wheel, and the vehicle rolled over over at 90 miles an hour, according to SkyNews. Lewis had consumed 15 beers that evening and tested positive for cocaine. No one was seriously hurt. Lewis was charged with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment and child abuse. quotes a 2009 incident that was written up in the Bradenton Herald. Mark Belanger, of Sarasota, Fla., was arrested in Bradenton, Fla., for allowing his 8-year-old son to drive his van while he was drunk. The child nearly killed two pedestrians and crashed into a tree. The child told police his father had taken some “liquid medicine to feel better.” Belanger had taken an entire bottle of whiskey. He told police he was having a “bonding moment” with his son.




Sky News:


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