Parents who were too drunk to drive home from a club told their 13-year-old to get behind the wheel. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Parents in Texas have been charged with child endangerment after having their 13-year-old daughter drive the family home from a club because the couple were too intoxicated to do so themselves.
Alvaro Benitez and Araceli Mata-Ortiz were arrested in Austin last Sunday night after police pulled over their car, only to find a 13-year-old driving. The parents and their 7-year-old daughter were riding as passengers. Police were originally called because the car was weaving between lanes, had a number of near-accidents, and was driving approximately 25 mph under the 70 mph speed limit, according to the arrest affidavit provided to Yahoo Parenting.
After the family spent the evening at a “family club,” the 13-year-old saw that her parents were too drunk to drive and suggested taking the wheel, according to the affidavit. Benitez and Mata-Ortiz agreed and said the 22.7-mile drive home would provide their daughter with “a little adventure.”
When police arrested the couple, they found a still-cold open can of beer in the car. “Alvaro and Araceli’s actions intentionally and knowingly put their two daughters in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical impairment,” the affidavit says.
Alvaro Benitez is being held on $10,000 bail after having his 13-year-old drive his family home after a night at a club. (Photo: Austin American-Statesman)
According the Austin American-Statesman, Benitez has been convicted of driving while intoxicated twice before, in 1990 and 1991, and was charged with another DWI in 2005.
Aside from the possible legal repercussions of their decision, family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer tells Yahoo Parenting, the parents should be concerned about the possible long-term effects of this incident on their daughters. “In this case, the parents’ abuse of alcohol impaired their judgment to such an extent that they placed both of their children’s lives at great risk,” he says. “Such an event is traumatic for the children and will leave them feeling very unsafe in the world. Yes, they and the family can recover, but it will take a focused effort and a clearly articulated program of recovery.”
The parents, who Hokemeyer suspects may suffer from alcoholism, should seek help immediately — for their own health, and for the health and safety of their children. “My hope is this family uses this dramatic event as a wake-up call,” he says, “and get themselves the help they desperately need.”