JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A St. Augustine mother was arrested Wednesday after police said she fell asleep drunk in her car on the side of the A1A with her 2-year-old child in the backseat.
The Department of Children and Families said it is investigating the incident and said the child is OK and staying with family but said that all too often these parents aren't getting the help they need and that can lead to a very bad situation.
Police said 30-year-old Ashley Mawyer's car was running idle while she remained past out in the driver's seat and according to the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, an officer had to poke her with his flash light to even wake her up while her son was in the back seat.
"This could have been much worse because if that adult had taken off in the car with that child intoxicated, you could have had a tragic situation. So thank goodness that that didn't happen but it's a major safety risk," DCF spokesperson John Harrell said.
According to the arrest report, Mawyer was given a series of field sobriety exercises and failed almost all of them.
Officers said she was losing her balance and holding on to things for support. They said when she was asked to walk a straight line she couldn't.
According to police, her blood alcohol level was .208 over twice the legal limit. She was arrested for driving under the influence and child neglect.
"You don't have to be driving the car, she was sitting in the seat and that's enough to charge her with DUI," News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said.
Harrell said they work with law enforcement agencies around the state to provide help to families in need. Often times that includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.
"Look, we need the public's help. We need the community's help in these types of situations because if someone suspects that a child is being abused or neglected, then state law requires them to contact the abuse hotline. But people should also reach out and call the abuse hotline if they feel a parent is unable to care for their child. Let's get that family help. Let's get that parent some help before it escalates into a tragedy," Harrell said.