Unbelievable Joyride: Kids Drive 200 Miles Over Screen Time

NORTH PORT, Fla. — A late-night escapade by two Florida children, aged 10 and 11, resulted in a multi-county chase for law enforcement last week. The siblings, upset over their mother’s decision to limit their screen time, allegedly stole their mother’s car and embarked on a journey that spanned over 200 miles.

The children, residents of North Port in Sarasota County, reportedly left their home around midnight on Sept. 21 in their mother’s white sedan. Their journey ended around 3:50 a.m. when Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies pulled over the vehicle on Interstate 75. The deputies were surprised to find the 10-year-old boy behind the wheel and his 11-year-old sister in the passenger seat.

The vehicle had been reported stolen, leading to what the sheriff’s office described as a “high-risk traffic stop.” The siblings had been reported missing to the North Port Police Department, and it was discovered that the stolen vehicle belonged to their mother. The motive for their daring journey was reportedly a disagreement over screen time. The children were upset with their mother for confiscating their electronic devices due to inappropriate use.

The siblings had ambitious plans to drive to California, according to Sarasota-based ABC affiliate WWSB. They attempted to withdraw $100 from an ATM in Tampa using their mother’s CashApp card, but after the transaction was declined, they managed to withdraw $20. They also packed some clothes for their journey. However, their adventure was cut short when law enforcement tracked a cell phone they had with them.

The children managed to get a 20-minute head start after their mother inadvertently left the keys in her Honda. The Florida Highway Patrol initially spotted the vehicle, but the investigation was later handed over to local authorities in Alachua.

Despite the dramatic events, the mother chose not to press charges. The sheriff’s office stated that the only applicable charge would have been driving without a valid license, a misdemeanor traffic violation for which a juvenile cannot be prosecuted. The original crime was classified as grand theft of a motor vehicle, a felony, but the mother’s decision not to press charges limited the legal consequences.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office expressed optimism about the situation, stating that the children’s mother was receptive to their recommendations for assistance. The incident underscores the challenges of parenting in the digital age and the lengths some children will go to regain their screen time.