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Originally published August 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 30, 2007 at 4:18 PM

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Drunk dad has 11 year old drive home

A father who was too drunk to drive had his 11-year-old son get behind the wheel of his pickup and drive them home, authorities said. Police stopped the boy...

FAIRBANKS — A father who was too drunk to drive had his 11-year-old son get behind the wheel of his pickup and drive them home, authorities said.

Police stopped the boy late Tuesday after he was seen driving the 1992 Chevy truck the wrong way on a one-way street.

The boy's father, Frank Neff, 35, of Fairbanks, was too drunk to drive and had told the child to drive them home, police said.

Neff pleaded no contest to charges of reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the incident. He was ordered to spend 15 days in jail and to take parenting classes. The boy wasn't charged.

"When you've got your 11-year-old son who is driving you around who is unlicensed, that creates a hazard not only for the child but for the public," said prosecutor Joe Dallaire.

The incident took place after Neff had been drinking beer and shots with a friend in an apartment at a downtown building, police said.

"He was really drunk," said Ron Schumann, who saw Neff in the hallway of the building, which has stores and apartments.

Schumann and a friend left the building as the same time as the father and son.

"My friend said, man, do you know what he is going to do? He's going to have his little son drive the truck," Schumann said.

They then followed the pickup with the child driver.

"He was going over the curbs," Schumann said. "He didn't know how to drive."

The boy then turned onto a one-way street.

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"We called the police," Schumann said. "We just wanted to get him stopped right away so that he wouldn't go any further."

The boy passed the Fairbanks Police Department, where surveillance cameras reportedly caught him on tape, before officers stopped him, according to court records.

The officer saw Neff lean over and place a seat belt over the boy, the prosecutor said.

Neff told authorities that he had been teaching his son how to drive since the child was 8 years old.

Neff registered 0.193 — more than twice the legal limit — on a preliminary chemical breath test, so a DUI charge would have been likely had Neff been caught driving, Dallaire said.

"The only good thing that can be said about your conduct is that you didn't drive drunk," said Mary Greene, a magistrate who sentenced Neff on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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