ORLANDO, Fla. – For the second time this month, authorities have charged a father with allowing his 9-year-old child to be a designated driver.
Nathan Walter Sikkenga, 31, of Gillette, Wyo., told troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol in Orlando on Saturday that he and his wife "were under the influence of alcohol" and instructed their son to drive the van, according to an arrest report released Tuesday.
The van crashed into a security gate arm bar. An Orange County Sheriff's deputy who witnessed the crash told responding troopers that a child was behind the wheel and the father was sitting in the front passenger seat, the report states.
Sikkenga was charged with felony child endangerment. No current telephone listing could be found for Sikkenga and it wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney. He was let out on bond and had asked for his lawyer when police read him his Miranda rights. The police report did not indicate why the father was charged and not the mother.
On Oct. 8, police say a Detroit-area man had his 9-year-old daughter drive him to the store because he had been drinking. Surveillance video from a gas station shows him telling a clerk that his daughter was his designated driver.
Brownstown Township, Mich., Detective Lt. Robert Grant said the girl was sitting behind the wheel in a child's booster seat before 3 a.m., when an officer opened the driver's side door of the full-sized panel van her father uses for work. He said she was surprised when police pulled her over.
She said to the officer, "What did you stop me for? I was driving good," Grant told the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.
The girl told police that her father had been drinking whiskey all night and that he had allowed her to drive before. Her parents are separated.
The father, who told officers he was teaching his daughter to drive, was arrested and refused a Breathalyzer test, Grant said. He was charged with second- and fourth-degree child abuse during an Oct. 10 arraignment.
He also was charged with being a habitual offender and could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
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