‘I don’t want to go to jail, mommy’: 8-year-old found steering car for drunk mom, police say

Posted at 6:57 PM, May 09, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- A mother faces multiple charges after she allowed her young son to steer the car while driving down a Milwaukee freeway Thursday, authorities said.

Carrie Bernard, 37, faces one count of second degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of DUI with a minor child in the vehicle. She also faces a third charge for allegedly violating the terms of her interlock ignition device agreement.

Carrie Bernard

According to a criminal complaint, around 2:30 p.m. a deputy observed a vehicle "having difficulty negotiating the curve on the ramp" to the freeway at Fond du Lac Avenue at 107th Street.

The deputy noted the vehicle was making "jerky motions" and at one point, it drove up onto the grass on the side of the ramp, before entering the freeway. Once on the freeway, the complaint says the vehicle "could not keep its lane of travel," and the deputy, once alongside the vehicle, noticed a small child sitting on Carrie Bernard's lap in the driver's seat.

The complaint states "the child had both of his hands on the steering wheel, manipulating the vehicle."

The officer pulled the car over, and, during the traffic stop, the 8-year-old child was seen jumping to the passenger seat, and putting his seat belt on, according to the complaint.

When told why she was pulled over, prosecutors say Bernard replied: "I don't know what you're talking about. No one was operating this vehicle except me." The 8-year-old child, sitting in front of a pit bull that was also on the passenger seat "began to cry," and said "I don't want to go to jail, mommy."

The complaint says Bernard then turned to her son and said: "You're not going to jail. Just remember her face. She's the one that did this to us," referencing the deputy.

Prosecutors say Bernard's speech was slurred, she moved lethargically and had pinpoint pupils.  She allegedly told investigators: "I took my meds this morning, so?" When asked what type of medications she took, the complaint says Bernard replied, "I don't think that's important." When she was asked to step out of the vehicle, prosecutors say Bernard refused -- rolling up her window and locking the doors.

When additional squad cars arrived on scene, prosecutors say Bernard eventually exited her vehicle after a deputy threatened to break the window and forcibly remove her. Police arrested Bernard after she failed a field sobriety test and took a sample of her blood at the Milwaukee County Jail.

The complaint notes that Bernard was convicted of DUI in January and July of 2014. Her license was revoked at the time of the alleged incident on May 4th, according to DOT records.