Police in California who pulled over an 11-year-old driver on Sunday allege he was told to drive by his intoxicated uncle, PEOPLE confirms.
Genoro Lopez, 29, of Oxnard, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Ventura County Superior Court on suspicion of felony child endangerment and other charges, which included an infraction for allegedly having an open container of alcohol in the car, reports the Ventura County Star.
A Port Hueneme police officer first noticed what appeared to be a child behind the wheel of the car as it attempted a turn onto Hueneme Road, then watched as the driver committed several traffic violations, according to police.
At the same time, a police dispatcher reported receiving calls about what looked to others like a juvenile driving with a slumped-over passenger in the front seat, reports Los Angeles TV station KABC.
When stopped by the officer, the boy initially said his uncle was teaching him to drive.
He then allegedly said the man was too intoxicated to drive.
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The passenger, Lopez, was allegedly revealed to have an unlicensed-driver warrant and allegedly was found to have used methamphetamine several hours earlier while looking after the child, according to police.
Lopez was handcuffed after he exited the vehicle and the officer spotted what appeared to be a firearm between the car door and passenger seat, although the officer later determined it to be an imitation.
Authorities allege Lopez admitted that he let his nephew drive because he did not want to be arrested for drunk driving.
He is being held on $55,000 bail in Ventura County jail and scheduled to be back in court Nov. 1, reports the Associated Press.
Authorities released the boy to his mother’s custody.