US man makes nine-year-old daughter his ‘designated driver’

2011-10-18 07:29

Michigan – A Detroit-area man had his nine-year-old daughter drive him to the store because he had apparently been drinking, police said, and surveillance video from a petrol station shows him telling a clerk that his daughter was his “designated driver”.

Brownstown Township detective Robert Grant said the girl was sitting behind the wheel in a child’s booster seat before 3am on October 8, when an officer opened the driver’s side door of the full-sized panel van her father uses for work. He said she was surprised when police pulled her over.

She said to the officer, “What did you stop me for? I was driving good,” Grant told the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Someone called police after spotting the pair stopped at the petrol station.

The caller watched the girl get in the driver’s seat and pull the vehicle on to the road. She drove a couple kilometres before police pulled her over.

The video tape obtained by television stations WDIV, WXYZ and WJBK shows the van pulling up to the station and the man walking in with his daughter. He told an unseen clerk that she was driving him around because he had been drinking.

“I got a designated driver,” the man said.

The Associated Press is not naming the father in order to protect the identity of his daughter.

The girl told police that her father had been drinking whiskey all night. She said he had allowed her to drive before.

The father, who told officers he was teaching his daughter to drive, was arrested and refused a breath-alcohol test, Grant said. He was charged with second- and fourth-degree child abuse during an October 10 arraignment. He was ordered to have no contact with his daughter.

His preliminary examination is scheduled for today.

He also was charged with being a habitual offender and could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The habitual offender charge stems from convictions on four previous felonies, including receiving and concealing stolen property and unarmed robbery, Grant said.

He was convicted of driving while intoxicated in connection with an October 2007 crash and had his licence restricted for a year, Michigan secretary of state spokesperson Fred Woodhams told the Free Press.

The girl was turned over to her maternal grandfather when police could not reach her mother.

The girl’s parents are separated. 

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