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Police: St. Charles woman allowed 8-year-old son to drive car

Published: Friday, May 31, 2013 3:13 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:58 a.m. CDT
Cathleen A. Sams

ST. CHARLES – A St. Charles woman faces multiple charges, including driving under the influence and endangering the life of a child, after St. Charles police said she allowed her 8-year-old son to drive her vehicle.

Cathleen A. Sams, 48, of the 200 block of Fairview Drive, was charged May 25 with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, failure to signal, permitting an unauthorized person to drive and endangering the life or health of a child.

According to the police report, a St. Charles police officer observed Sams exit the passenger side of her Ford Escape while stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Oak Street and 19th Street in St. Charles shortly before 7 p.m. May 25. Sams entered the driver's side of the vehicle and proceeded to make a right-hand turn onto 19th Street without using a signal.

The officer stopped Sams for not using her turn signal and noticed that the only other person in the vehicle was an 8-year-old male, says the report. The officer asked Sams why she was letting an 8-year-old drive the vehicle, and Sams responded that the boy was only driving for a short while from her home on Fairview Drive to the corner of 19th and Oak streets, and that he had asked to drive.

The officer noticed that Sams had glassy eyes, an odor of alcohol on her breath and was slurring her speech. She told police that she had two beers while she was at home, and the officer conducted field sobriety tests.

"Based on [the officer's] observations of [Sams'] driving/traffic violations, her physical condition, her admission to consuming alcohol prior to driving, her performance on the field testing and inability to make rational decisions (allowing an 8-year-old to drive a vehicle on a public street near a park attended by several children at the time), it was [the officer's] opinion that Sams was impaired by an intoxicating substance beyond the limits of safety operating a motor vehicle," the report states.

The incident prompted the police officer to contact the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Sams later took a Breathalyzer test and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.175 percent, police said. The boy was released to the care of his older sister while Sams was processed through booking.

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