[Southern California]. An 11-year-old child was pulled over by police, in Port Hueneme, with an intoxicated adult male in the passenger seat.
Port Hueneme Pollice reported the arrest of a 29-year-old man, Wednesday. The intoxicated man, who is the child’s uncle, was discovered during a traffic stop where police say the uncle was using his young nephew as a designated driver.
Officer Graham first observed the vehicle mid-afternoon Sunday at the intersection of Surfside Drive and Hueneme Road which is a heavy traffic area. The officer noticed a child behind the wheel as the vehicle attempted to make a right-hand turn.
Genaro Lopez. Photo Posted On Facebook By Port Hueneme Police Department PHPD
Dispatch had previously received several calls from motorist alerting them of the child driver but did not expect the circumstances that lead to the minor driving. Because the uncle, identified as Oxnard resident Genaro Lopez, had been in the passenger seat in the reclined position and wasn’t clearly visible until the officer approached the car.
The officer noted a sweater used to prop the child up to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals, stating that it must have been placed there by Lopez. To farther add to the situation, Lopez also had an open container of alcohol. Which means the uncle not only risked the life of his own nephew, motorist, pedestrians but blatantly exposed the child to belligerent and continuous drinking.
While Lopez was charged with open container – the story didn’t end there. Police spotted a firearm crammed within arms-reach of the young driver and the inebriated man. Needless to say, officers slapped cuff on Lopez and are still determining if more charges need to be filed.
As reported by Tracy Bloom and Steve Kuzj with KTLA.
Authorities also conducted a records check and discovered a misdemeanor warrant out on Lopez for being an unlicensed driver, according to the release.
He later allegedly admitted to investigators that the boy was driving because he was trying to avoid a drunken driving arrest. A criminal history check revealed that he had a previous DUI arrest this past May, authorities said.
“It’s just crazy that he put his nephew and the public in danger, just cause he didn’t want to go to jail,” Graham said.
Lopez is also accused of using methamphetamine several hours earlier, while the nephew was in his care, the release stated.
The suspect was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and the outstanding warrant, police said.
He was booked at the Ventura County Main Jail and was being held on $50,000 bail.
The child was released to his mother.
Graham offered this to advice to motorists: “Don’t drive your car. If you know you’re that intoxicated, get someone to come and get you, call Uber.”