CLEARWATER — A 44-year-old man was arrested on a child abuse charge Thursday evening after police say he was spotted driving four young children around on a busy street in the bed of his pickup truck.
William K. Denner of Clearwater was driving along Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard near Highland Avenue just before 8 p.m. when an officer stopped his pickup.
Police had received several calls reporting a pickup truck with several young children in its bed, Clearwater police spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said. Some callers reported seeing a child standing as the truck was in motion.
The children were all under the age of 10, officials said. As police cruisers began to tail the truck, the children lay down.
"They must have thought that wouldn't get them in trouble," Castelli said.
Denner told police he was driving the children from Tampa to his home in Clearwater. But as he was speaking, officers noted he was exhibiting signs of impairment, Castelli said.
He told officers he had consumed a beer about 30 minutes before the traffic stop.
Police asked Denner to submit to a breath test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.066 percent. A blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent is the threshold at which Florida law presumes that someone is impaired. When impairment is presumed but the reading doesn't match up, Castelli said, officers request a urine sample to test for drug use.
Denner declined to provide one, resulting in an automatic DUI charge.
Denner remained in the Pinellas County Jail on Friday in lieu of $5,500 bail.
Marissa Lang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.