Florida man arrested for having a 9-year-old drive him home, deputies say

OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies arrested a Florida man who is accused of asking a child to drive him home.

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The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that a witness saw a vehicle all over the road, and suspected the driver was impaired. The witness cut off the vehicle and noticed that a child was driving the car. The witness then got the child to get into the passenger seat and parked the car in a nearby parking lot.

“We want to express our sincere gratitude to the witness who noticed something was wrong and intervened, potentially preventing a tragedy involving a child,” Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said.

Deputies said the 9-year-old told them that Alexander Berrios, 22, had asked the child to drive him home, and even pointed out directions along the nearly 7-mile trip. When the witness stopped the car, the child said he was on his way back to his own home alone, and had driven nearly 3 miles.

In an arrest report obtained by WKRG, deputies said that when they interviewed Berrios at his home, he initially denied knowing the child or the child’s mother, and denied leaving his home at all the night before, WKRG reported.

Berrios’ father gave deputies video showing Berrios arriving home and entering the back door just before 7:45 a.m., WKRG reported.

Deputies said in the news release that Berrios told them that his decision was “a mistake” but would not elaborate.

Deputies said that when they contacted the 9-year-old’s mother, she was unaware that her son had left the house.

Investigators said the child’s mother told deputies that Berrios had been at their home the night before drinking alcohol, WKRG reported. The mother said that Berrios had stayed the night, and she realized she was gone at “some point in the morning.”

Berrios was charged with child neglect without great bodily harm.