Boy's Call Leads To Mom's DUI Arrest

Clinical Phychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere and Hannah Storm
CBS/The Early Show
An 8-year-old boy riding in a car with his mother and little sister called 911 at least twice to report that his mother had been drinking and was driving in the wrong direction.

Authorities in Vancouver, Wash., say the call led to the woman's arrest on drunken driving and other charges.

Paulette Spears, 33, was arrested Saturday after she drove to a fire station and said she had a medical problem.

Guided by her son's description of what he could see from the car, as well as by global positioning technology to track the phone calls, deputies arrived at the station less than a minute later.

Authorities said that at one point, Spears took the cell phone from the boy, told the dispatcher not to worry, and hung up. They say she also bit the boy's hand and grabbed the phone from him.

At first, tapes show, the 911 dispatcher asked the boy to put his mother on the phone, but the woman ended the call instead. The dispatcher called back, and the boy's mother hung up again.

Then the boy called 911 again, but told the dispatcher his mother was "jabbing" him with her hands, insisting he give her the phone.

The boy and his sister were placed with an aunt.

Spears was jailed for investigation of drunken driving, two counts of reckless endangerment, and assault of a child.

Records show she has at least one conviction for drunken driving.

On The Early Show Tuesday, Dr. Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist, told co-anchor Hannah Storm the boy is "wise beyond his years. As a psychologist, it speaks to me in that there may have been other instances in the home, especially since this mother, we found out, has already had a previous drunken driving conviction. So, maybe he has been exposed to situations that we don't want our young kids to be exposed to so early in their lives.

"The other thing is that the dispatcher was excellent here. Throughout these calls, the dispatcher was calm, kept him talking, so even though this kid knew that his life and those in the car were in danger, she also kept him focused on the task, and that's the job of dispatcher. That's what it should be."

But the boy faces a tough road, Gardere added, saying he faces an "emotional dilemma. ... He's going to be in a situation where people attribute what he did, his heroic actions, as also leading his mom to jail, so he's going to feel a lot of that guilt.

"I think this kid's going to have some PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, sadness, flashbacks, paranoia, so he's going to have some issues, and a lot of issues of trust with his mom. ... It's going to be a real, real issue with maturation and those issues. He'll need a lot of therapy. And the mom needs help, too, of course."