GREENFIELD — A Hancock County sheriff’s deputy stopped a driver early Monday to tell her she didn’t have her taillights on, only to discover the person behind the wheel was a 14-year-old girl who had been drinking alcohol.
Deputy Richard VanOsdol, who stopped the car shortly before 1 a.m. in the 3300 block of West U.S. 40, said there were no obvious signs the person driving was under the influence of alcohol; VanOsdol just noticed she was driving with her daytime lamps on, which do not activate a car’s taillights.
After being stopped, the teen and her 13-year-old passenger, a female friend, admitted to VanOsdol they did not have driver’s licenses.
When VanOsdol said he smelled an odor of alcohol coming from the car, the girls admitted they’d been drinking earlier in the evening, VanOsdol said.
The driver’s blood-alcohol content was .05 percent. While minors are prohibited from consuming alcohol, the legal limit to charge someone with operating a vehicle while intoxicated is .08 percent. The passenger did not test positive for alcohol use, said VanOsdol.
VanOsdol contacted both the girls’ parents, who arrived at the scene shortly thereafter to pick them up.
The Hancock County Probation Department has a set of guidelines dictating when juveniles are detained; minor consumption and unlicensed driving are not among the criteria requiring juveniles to be kept in custody, VanOsdol said.
Both girls were released to their mothers.
The driver of the vehicle faces juvenile charges of minor consumption of alcohol and driving without having been licensed. Aside from violating curfew, the passenger did not violate any laws and will not be charged, VanOsdol said.