9-year-old 'designated driver' gets a day in court
Remember the 9-year-old girl who was stopped by police while playing the role of "designated driver" because her dad allegedly had too much to drink? “What did you stop me for?" she reportedly asked the Detroit-area officer during the 3 a.m. traffic stop. "I was driving good."
The headlines -- plus the video of her expertly piloting her dad's van from a booster seat -- almost seemed a cause for chuckles. That is, until the rest of the story unfolded.
Police said an investigation found that the girl routinely chauffeured her father around town at all hours of the night because of his chronic drinking problems. And authorities reported that, when they took the girl into custody, they had to turn her over to a grandparent because her mom was nowhere to be found.
This week, the girl has been placed in a harrowing situation yet again. Only this time, it occurred in a Michigan courtroom.
The father, Shawn Weimer, 39, is facing child abuse charges for allegedly putting his daughter in a situation "likely to cause serious physical or mental harm." It will be up to a judge to decide whether the case will be handled as a misdemeanor or a felony.
In an effort to knock the charge down to a less-serious misdemeanor, defense attorney David Steingold put the girl on the spot this week to prove that she wasn't placed in a situation "likely" to cause injury because ... she was such a good little driver. Seriously.
Here's what reportedly happened:
The child took the witness stand holding her father's fate in her hands, and immediately began crying beneath the weight of it all.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Wayne County assistant prosecutor Keisha Glenn asked about the October night in question.
"What was he drinking?" Glenn asked.
"Black Velvet," the girl responded.
"Do you know what Black Velvet is?"
The girl paused: "I don't know, whiskey."
The girl said her father drank about half the bottle and threw away the rest. She said he was not drunk. She also testified that she used to drive four-wheelers and a mini-motorcycle. The judge is expected to issue a ruling in the case on Monday.
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Photo: Shawn Weimer right, sits with one of his attorneys, Barry Adler, during a preliminary hearing to determine the severity of the child abuse charges he will face. Credit: Steve Perez / The Detroit News/Associated Press