A father in a Detroit suburb faces charges of child abuse after making his 9-year-old daughter drive him to a service station because he was too drunk to take the wheel, police said.
The outing was caught-on-tape by the station’s surveillance video, which shows the van pulling up to the station around 3 a.m. on Oct. 8, and the man, identified as 39-year-old Shawn Weimer, walking in with his daughter.
“Nine years old. Nine! Gas, break, listen, we’re leaving, and she’s driving. I’m drunk,” he can be heard saying to a clerk in the store.
Weimer was arrested after police officers in Brownstown Township, southwest of Detroit, were alerted by a 911 call.
“A 7-year-old is driving it and her dad is drunk and he’s in the passenger side,” the caller, who watched the girl get in the driver’s seat at the service station and pull the vehicle onto the road, told a 911 dispatcher.
“Are you sure the child’s driving, sir?” the dispatcher asks the caller.
When police stopped the car a few miles later, they were surprised to see the young girl really sitting behind the wheel, in a booster seat but still able to operate the van’s gas and brakes.
They were even more surprised at the 9-year-old’s reaction.
“She looks at the uniformed police officer, and says ‘What did you stop me for? I was driving good,’” Brownstown Detective Lt. Robert Grant said.
The girl later told detectives that this wasn’t the first time her dad had her serve as his designated driver.
“She explained to me that he did let her drive before,” Grant said. “On this night, she indicated, he was drinking whiskey and, for whatever reason, instead of the little girl being in bed at 3 a.m., he decided to go for a ride after drinking.”
Officers described Weimer as “argumentative” in telling them he was just teaching his daughter to drive.
Weimer and the girl’s mother are separated and she was spending the weekend with him.
He refused a Breathalyzer test and was arrested, Grant said.
Weimer was charged with second- and fourth-degree child abuse, one a felony and the other a misdemeanor, for the Oct. 8 incident.
He was also charged with being a habitual offender from previous convictions for unarmed robbery, felony firearm possession and receiving and concealing stolen property. He could face 15 years in prison if convicted.
Weimer was also ordered to have no contact with his daughter, now back in the custody of her mother.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.