Drunk Mother Uses Daughter's Breath to Start Car With Anti-DUI Device

By William Georgiades 03/01/17

This is not the first time drivers under the influence have used their children to circumvent ignition interlock devices. 

Woman being reprimanded by police officer.

There are many devices designed to keep drunk drivers off the road. Among the most popular are the ignition interlock devices which will not allow a car ignition to start if the driver has a certain amount of alcohol in their system. This device is similar to the breathalyzers police use to determine levels of inebriation. 

These devices are often used to keep people with past DUI convictions from driving drunk, or are installed by concerned friends and family members of people with drinking problems. Now, DUI convictions can go hand-in-hand with charges of child endangerment, as children are increasingly being enlisted to blow into the devices to allow adults to drive drunk. 

A recent spate of incidents shows that the will to drink can extend to drivers using their own children to circumvent the device. 

Last month, a Pennsylvania woman had her eight-year-old daughter blow into her ignition breathalyzer, only to crash the car with her daughter inside—and be charged again with DUI. In addition to the DUI charge, Angela Daywalt, 36, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, was also charged with corruption of a minor.

In 2015, April King, 35, left her two children in the car while she went to drink at a local bar in Apopka, Florida. The children, aged two and four, spent 20 minutes in the car as their mother drank before the four-year old blew into the device, as captured on a police body camera. The child thought the device was a game that his mother allowed him to play. The child admitted that his mother had him blow into the device so she could drive.

Doug King, her husband, told WFTV that, “Whenever I went to pick him up from daycare, he usually gets excited to go home in my truck, but whenever I picked him up from daycare, he wanted Mommy’s car because he thought it was a toy.”

In that case, King had installed the device himself to curtail his wife’s drinking. His wife was charged with child neglect and held on a $1,500 bond. 

And last year in Oklahoma, Kayla Kathleen Martin-Weliwita, 36, attempted to have her nine and 13-year-old daughters blow into her car’s device.

Police responded to a report of a woman fighting with her daughter in the parking lot of a local bar. After speaking to the daughter, police arrested Martin-Weliwita for trying to enlist both her daughters and the bar’s servers to blow into the device. She was arrested on charges of child abuse, child neglect and public intoxication, and held on a $100,000 bond.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

William Georgiades is a former editor at EsquireBlack Book, the New York Post and the Grapevine and has written for several publications including New York MagazineVanity Fair, the London Times and GQ. He has been the features editor at The Fix since 2013. You can find him on Linkedin.