Driver's actions affect kids

Posted: Monday, June 05, 2000

A 14-month-old girl sat crying in a van stopped along the Sterling Highway last week.

Beside the car, the toddler's father was given a field sobriety test by a Soldotna police officer. Having failed it, he was charged with driving while intoxicated. A container of marijuana was found in the vehicle, resulting in an additional charge of sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Because his daughter was with him, he also was charged with reckless endangerment.

The father was taken to Wildwood Pretrial. His daughter was taken to the Division of Family and Youth Services.

Earlier this month, a single-vehicle accident on Kenai Spur Highway brought the attention of the Kenai Police Department, Alaska State Troopers and Central Emergency Services. The adult male driver and the driver's two small children, who were in the back seat, were taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital. All three were treated and released.

The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license. Because the two children were with him, he also was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment.

In a third recent incident, Kenai police were notified of a vehicle weaving all over the Kenai Spur Highway with two small children as passengers. The driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated and driving without a valid operator's license.

She also was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and taken to Wildwood Pretrial.

"Three cases in the recent past is a pretty high number," said Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Warner. "You certainly create a negligent situation when you force children who have no choice but to go with you. When we run across that situation, we contact the Division of Family and Youth Services."

Reckless endangerment is a class A misdemeanor and carries with it a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail.

"Had there been serious injuries to the children, the charges would have been worse than reckless endangerment," said Chief Dan Morris of the Kenai Police Department. "The charges would have increased to assault -- or homicide, in the case of a death.

"Most people would question why you would be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and have children in the car," Morris said. "It's difficult to understand why someone would do that. And it's hard to give people like that advice."

What the public can do is call 911 if a vehicle is observed being operated in an unsafe manner. Morris said his agency received a call last month that included a description of the car and the license plate number. After the vehicle was intercepted, the driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

"By all means, call us," Morris said. "We will definitely get on it."

Keeping children safe in vehicles also means using the proper restraints.

"We're really making a proactive effort to cite people for not restraining kids in cars," Warner said. "It's just crazy to do that."

BYLINE1:By McKIBBEN JACKINSKY

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

A 14-month-old girl sat crying in a van stopped along the Sterling Highway last week.

Beside the car, the toddler's father was given a field sobriety test by a Soldotna police officer. Having failed it, he was charged with driving while intoxicated. A container of marijuana was found in the vehicle, resulting in an additional charge of sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Because his daughter was with him, he also was charged with reckless endangerment.

The father was taken to Wildwood Pretrial. His daughter was taken to the Division of Family and Youth Services.

Earlier this month, a single-vehicle accident on Kenai Spur Highway brought the attention of the Kenai Police Department, Alaska State Troopers and Central Emergency Services. The adult male driver and the driver's two small children, who were in the back seat, were taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital. All three were treated and released.

The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license. Because the two children were with him, he also was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment.

In a third recent incident, Kenai police were notified of a vehicle weaving all over the Kenai Spur Highway with two small children as passengers. The driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated and driving without a valid operator's license.

She also was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and taken to Wildwood Pretrial.

"Three cases in the recent past is a pretty high number," said Soldotna Police Chief Shirley Warner. "You certainly create a negligent situation when you force children who have no choice but to go with you. When we run across that situation, we contact the Division of Family and Youth Services."

Reckless endangerment is a class A misdemeanor and carries with it a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail.

"Had there been serious injuries to the children, the charges would have been worse than reckless endangerment," said Chief Dan Morris of the Kenai Police Department. "The charges would have increased to assault -- or homicide, in the case of a death.

"Most people would question why you would be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and have children in the car," Morris said. "It's difficult to understand why someone would do that. And it's hard to give people like that advice."

What the public can do is call 911 if a vehicle is observed being operated in an unsafe manner. Morris said his agency received a call last month that included a description of the car and the license plate number. After the vehicle was intercepted, the driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

"By all means, call us," Morris said. "We will definitely get on it."

Keeping children safe in vehicles also means using the proper restraints.

"We're really making a proactive effort to cite people for not restraining kids in cars," Warner said. "It's just crazy to do that."



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