BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A suburban Detroit man said letting his 9-year-old daughter drive him around after he had been drinking was a bad idea that grew out of good memories from his youth.
Shawn Weimer, who faces trial on a felony child abuse charge, said he made a mistake in asking his daughter to drive in the early morning of Oct. 8. But the 39-year-old thought of the driving he did at her age on a 22-acre farm and around the junkyard his family owned.
"It's just something that I experienced when I was a kid that I shared with my daughter," Weimer told the Detroit Free Press for a story published Saturday.
Police arrested Weimer after pulling over the van and finding his daughter behind the wheel near their home. Surveillance video from a Brownstown Township gas station shows Weimer bragging about her driving skills.
Weimer said he picked up his daughter at her mother's house in Lincoln Park and took her to his home, where they worked on a dirt bike and four-wheeler in the garage. They ride them together, he said, but that day was the first time she had driven the van.
Weimer said she drove around a private road for about 45 minutes before heading to the gas station.
The girl testified last month that her father had consumed half a bottle of whiskey the night they were pulled over and that she agreed to drive but felt a "little scared."
When Weimer said he first saw the surveillance video played on television he was embarrassed.
"I didn't want to see myself like that," he said.
Weimer told the newspaper he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and hasn't had any alcohol since his arrest.
His attorneys say he has been overcharged and the girl didn't face physical harm. Weimer hasn't decided whether to plead guilty to felony child abuse, a four-year felony that could be reduced to probation.
"I just want things to be over with, and I don't want my daughter to be involved," he said.