Over the weekend, a 40-year-old man was arrested at Tampa International Airport, accused of driving while intoxicated with his 6-year-old son in the car. An airport police officer stopped Bradley Walker Younger about 9 p.m. after receiving reports of an impaired driver in the departure area.
According to the arrest affidavit, the officer approached Younger’s 1972 white Ford Mustang and could smell a “distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage.” The officer claims Younger’s speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy.
Younger, of St. Petersburg, refused to complete a sobriety test and a breath sample, according to the affidavit. During the traffic stop, Younger’s 6-year-old son was sitting inside the Mustang.
Younger was charged with child neglect, driving with a suspended license and DUI.
The child neglect counts arise when caregivers are found to be driving under the influence with children because of the caregiver’s duty to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health. Under Florida law, neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident that could reasonably be expected to result in serious physical injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child. While the DUI may be a misdemeanor (depending on Younger’s driving history), the child neglect charge is a third degree felony.
Media reports have not indicated what about Younger’s behavior others observed to precipitate a call to police. It’s also not immediately clear from media reports whether Younger was driving the car or parked at the time the officer observed him. Under Florida law, driving under the influence can occur even if the car is parked. In general, the driver must be in actual physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated and can be charged even if the engine is turned off. The prosecutor may not even need to prove that the person behind the wheel of the car drove at all. There have been multiple cases in which someone was found “sleeping it off” with keys not in the ignition but was still charged and convicted of DUI.
Without sobriety tests or a breath sample, the state’s case against Younger will likely rely on the testimony of others who called in to report what they believed to be an impaired driver (what exactly did they observe?) and the physical observations of Younger by the officer (Younger’s appearance, speech, behavior, etc.).