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His 3-year-old in backseat, St. Petersburg man arrested when he falls asleep in car

ST. PETERSBURG — Police say a St. Petersburg man fell asleep behind the wheel of his car Tuesday night as his 3-year-old son slept in the backseat.

Peter Tyrone Thomas Jr., 31, was arrested on charges of child abuse, DUI, providing a false name to officers, and probation violation stemming from a previous DUI conviction.

Police pulled over Thomas in his 1194 Chevrolet Caprice at the Fifth Avenue Food Store, 3711 Fifth Ave. N, about 9 p.m. He was apparently parked with the engine running.

St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue and police received an emergency call about someone passed out behind the wheel with the car turned on, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

Rescuers arrived and shook Thomas' shoulders, he said, and Thomas reacted by pressing the gas pedal.

"Based on those facts," Proffitt said, "they felt that it was sufficient to charge him with child abuse."

Thomas told officers he drove to the store to get his son some juice. He also said his name was Maurice Moore, according to the report.

The boy's mother came to the store to pick up her son, Proffitt said. She told police Thomas' real name.

Police issued a referral to the Department of Children and Families, according to the report.

The arresting officer noted Thomas's breath smelled of alcohol and that his face had a "blank expression" with bloodshot, watery eyes. He slurred his speech and was unsteady on his feet, police say, and refused field sobriety exercises and a Breathalyzer test.

Arrest records show Thomas was charged with DUI and providing a false name Jan. 18.

He was found guilty of the DUI charge in April, court records show, and put on a one-year probation.

Thomas remained in jail Thursday afternoon in lieu of $5,400 bail.

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His 3-year-old in backseat, St. Petersburg man arrested when he falls asleep in car 07/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 8, 2010 5:36pm]
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