Man takes Xanax, allows son, 8, to drive car, police say
MANATEE COUNTY – Authorities say a Sarasota father who admitted taking tranquilizers let his 8-year-old son drive the car in a parking lot, where the boy almost hit two people and struck two trees.
Mark A. Belanger, 34, told Bradenton police officers that he had taken Xanax pills and felt “woozy” when he let the boy drive in the former grocery store parking lot in the 4600 block of Cortez road.
The boy nearly struck two people with the car and then slammed into two trees, shattering the driver’s side window and damaging the car’s radiator, the police report said.
While being interviewed by officers, Belanger collapsed and his face hit the pavement, causing a cut on the bridge of his nose.
Belanger’s son told investigators his father took “liquid medicine” and pointed to a bottle of whiskey in the car, the report said.
Belanger, of the 1700 block of 10th Way, which is just west of U.S. 301, was arrested on charges of child abuse without great harm and permitting an unlicensed minor to drive.
He is being held in Manatee County Jail on $10,120 bail.
"We're the Belangers--and this is how we roll."