A seven-year-old pyjama-clad boy drove his stepfather's car for 20 miles, sometimes hitting speeds of 50mph, before being stopped by police in Michigan.
Huron County prosecutor Tim Rutkowski said he had charged the boy with unlawful use of a vehicle "strictly" to get the boy and his family some assistance, such as counselling and said he would not seek to have the boy removed from his home.
"What is it in this child's life that's stressing him that he leaves in a vehicle? What we don't want is to let this happen again," Mr Rutkowski said. "There's something going on in his life."
The boy told authorities that he drove off in his stepfather's car on Monday to see his father, who also lives in Huron County, 110 miles north of Detroit. The boy reached speeds of at least 50mph before police caught up with him. He stopped the car on a rural road where the speed limit was 55mph.
"He was crying and just kept saying he wanted to go to his dad's," Caseville police chief Jamie Learman said. "That was pretty much it. He just wanted to go to his dad's."
Police began looking for the Pontiac Sunfire around 10.15am after someone called about a very young driver. The boy's mother had worked a night shift and was unaware her son and the car were gone.
Chief Learman told the Detroit Free Press he feared the boy would crash as the car veered to the right and fishtailed.
The chief sped ahead and tried to box-in the Sunfire with the help of a sheriff's deputy, who was behind in another vehicle.
"I slowed down, he slowed down and eventually stopped," Chief Learman said.