A sheriff’s deputy arrested two people for drunken driving and child endangerment Sunday after he stumbled upon them pulling a 7-year-old girl in a Hot Wheels car behind their SUV.
The SUV was going approximately 5 to 10 mph, towing the toy car, which was attached to the larger vehicle by two dog leashes, down a service road in Sarasota, Fla..
Pulling over the SUV and finding Paul Berloni, 49, behind the wheel, the deputy described him as having bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and alcohol on his breath. When Berloni refused to take a sobriety test, he was placed in the back of the squad car. In the back of the SUV sat Paul Berloni’s wife, Belinda Berloni, the 7-year-old’s grandmother. She had the hatch open and had been cheering on the child before they were stopped.
According to the arrest affidavit, Paul Berloni had been arrested three times previously for driving under the influence, and had had his driver’s license revoked 10 years earlier.
The child’s 47-year-old grandmother told the deputy she knew it was dangerous to “tow” the toy car, but she said that they were just having fun and that they had been doing this all day. She acknowledged that she had been drinking earlier in the day, according to the affidavit.
When Justin Oetting, Belinda Berloni’s son and the girl’s father arrived on the scene to pick up his daughter, he yelled an expletive at his mother before telling her, “You should know better.”
Belinda Berloni was arrested for child endangerment. In addition to drunken driving and child endangerment, Paul Berloni also faced a charge for neglect. He is still in custody, held on a $7,120 bond, which includes a fine for driving without a license. Belinda Berloni was released Monday.
Calls to the Berloni home by ABCNews.com were not immediately returned.