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Police: Florida Man Forces Young Son to Drive, Gives Xanax to Calm Down

Police have arrested a Sarasota man they say let his 8-year-old son drive a van.

Police arrested 34-year-old Mark A. Belanger just before midnight Sunday on charges of child abuse and permitting an unlicensed driver to drive.

A Bradenton police report says the boy hit a two trees and nearly hit two pedestrians in a parking lot when his father let him drive. Belanger told police that he had taken Xanax, used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, and was "feeling woozy and didn't want to drive." He said he that he thought letting his son drive would be a "bonding moment."

The boy told police his father took "liquid medicine in order to feel better," pointing to an empty whiskey bottle in the vehicle. Belanger remained in jail Wednesday on a $10,120 bond