A Wisconsin couple thought they had come up with a clever way of avoiding DUI charges after they got too drunk to drive: make their 9-year-old daughter drive. Fortunately for everyone’s safety, police were able to intervene before anyone got seriously hurt, and now the couple are facing a variety of felony charges.
As KMSP (Minneapolis) reports, Jason Roth and Amanda Eggert decided they were too drunk to drive one night earlier this month.
The Polk County couple apparently thought, “no problem,” and figured Eggert’s daughter, although she is only 9-years-old, would make the perfect designated driver. Police say that the young girl drove for several miles, weaving in and out of traffic.
Police received a 911 call about a vehicle driving erratically on rural roads in the area, and Deputy Jeff Hahn responded. By the time Hahn caught up to the couple’s truck, it had pulled up to a boat launch area along the nearby Apple River.
“As the nine-year-old exited the truck, it was still running and in drive when Mr. Roth was sitting in the truck by himself. He turned the ignition off and the truck began rolling backwards down the hill towards the river. I jumped into the truck to hit the brakes and put the truck in park.”
Hahn was also alarmed to see the couple’s 11-month-old baby in the truck, strapped into a car seat.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, either on the roads or at the river where the vehicle was stopped.
Hahn said both Roth and Eggert appeared “highly intoxicated,” and Roth blew.25 on a Breathalyzer test – over three times the legal limit for DUI.
Both adults were arrested, and have been charged with a variety of felony counts, including child neglect and second degree recklessly endangering safety. Last Friday, Roth and Eggert pleaded not guilty, and their cases will be tried at a date to be determined. The nine-year-old girl, meanwhile, has been placed in the custody of extended family.
The Wisconsin parents are not the first drunk parents to come up with the [terrible] idea of making a child drive for them. In fact, it seems to happen with pretty alarming regularity. For example, in October 2011, according to NBC News, a Good Samaritan in suburban Detroit spotted a van pulling out of a gas station with a small child behind the wheel and a drunk adult in the passenger seat.
“A 7-year-old is driving it and her dad is drunk and he’s in the passenger side… She’s driving pretty good, I’m telling you, I can’t believe it.”
The young driver even dutifully used her turn signals, according to the unidentified witness.
When Detective Lt. Robert Grant pulled over the driver, he found the nine-year-old girl sitting on a booster seat, but still able to reach the pedals on the floor and see out the front window.
“She looks at the uniformed police officer, and says ‘What did you stop me for? I was driving good,’ Absolutely incredible.”
Needless to say, making a child drive because you’re too drunk is a crime in all 50 states, and is not a good plan to avoid getting out of a DUI.
As of this writing, it is not clear when the Wisconsin parents who made their nine-year-old daughter drive them home will go to trial.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/www.BillionPhotos.com]