A 29-year-old California man was arrested after his 11-year-old nephew was found behind the wheel of a car and told police his uncle was too drunk to drive.

Police in Port Hueneme, a beach city about 50 km from Malibu, Calif., posted an account of the incident on Facebook, including a mugshot of the uncle.

They say officers stopped a car last Sunday, after noticing the driver had made several “noticeable traffic violations.”

Upon approaching the driver, police discovered he was an 11-year-old boy, sitting on a rolled-up sweatshirt so he could reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel.

The boy told police that his uncle, Genoro Lopez, who was in the front passenger seat, was teaching him to drive.

Police noticed that Lopez was highly intoxicated and holding an open container of alcohol. After further questioning, the boy admitted to police that Lopez was too drunk to drive.

Police say Lopez later admitted to using methamphetamine several hours before the traffic stop.

Officers searched the car and found a replica firearm in the vehicle. Lopez was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody.

He has been charged with felony child endangerment, and having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. He also had an outstanding misdemeanour warrant.

The boy was released into the care of his mother.