Police say dad used 9-year-old as 'designated driver'

Story highlights

  • A Michigan man is arrested after allegedly using his 9-year-old daughter as a "designated driver"
  • The girl asks the officer: "What did you stop me for? I was driving good"
  • The incident was recorded by a store's surveillance cameras on October 8
  • A preliminary hearing for the man took place Tuesday
A 9-year-old girl, propped on a booster seat behind the steering wheel of a van, was her father's "designated driver" during a recent wee-hours foray to a gas station, according to police in Michigan.
When an officer stopped the van, the girl's response, police said, was, "What did you stop me for? I was driving good."
Earlier, as surveillance cameras recorded the scene, the father told a Detroit-area store clerk that he had been drinking.
"I've got a designated driver," the man said, according to the tape, after strolling into a Citgo gas station with his daughter about 3 a.m. on October 8.
"Listen, we're leaving and she's driving," the man said, according to the surveillance tape.
The father appeared intoxicated and refused to take a breathalyzer test after the two were stopped, Brownstown, Michigan, Detective Lt. Robert Grant said. The man was charged with one felony count of child endangerment, a misdemeanor count of child abuse and habitual-offender fourth offense based on previous convictions, Grant added.
A preliminary hearing for the father was held Tuesday, and bail was set at $25,000.
The store's cameras captured footage of the child emerging from the driver's door of a red van after it pulled alongside a gas pump and jerked to a full stop.
"She drives us here," the man said on camera. "Nine years old, in the truck, we're here. She drove all the way here."
The pair climbed back into the van and continued traveling before a witness called police to the report the incident.
"Is the vehicle staying on the road?" asked the dispatcher, in a recorded conversation provided to CNN by police.
"Yeah, she's driving pretty good," the male caller, who did not identify himself on the call, said in the recording. "I'm telling you, I can't believe it."
The tipster added that the young girl made sure to use her turn signals as she drove, maneuvering northbound before police pulled her over.
Her father, Grant said, then exited the passenger side door and was arrested.
Upon opening the driver's door, police said they found the 9-year-old sitting atop a child booster seat directly behind the van's steering wheel.
The father previously had been convicted on felony counts involving stolen property, illegal possession of a firearm and unarmed robbery, Grant said.