No DUI test for accused hit-and-run driver

A driver allegedly involved in a hit-and-run car accident causing serious injuries to a bicyclist was not subjected to a blood test for alcohol use when she was apprehended, a move that is raising some eyebrows. The accident took place in late May on U.S. 98 in Santa Rosa County close to College Parkway.

At 3:05 a.m., officers from the Florida Highway Patrol believe, a 19-year-old driver operating a Chevrolet Cruze east on the highway smashed into the 31-year-old bicyclist, and then allegedly drove off. The man was severely injured, suffering a skull fracture and lacerations, and was not found until approximately 30 minutes later, after which emergency responders rushed him to a nearby hospital.

The driver, officers say, went home, and then went to a McDonald’s restaurant, accompanied by her mother, before presenting herself to police almost two hours later.

She was taken into custody and charged with reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, as well as failing to remain at the scene of the accident. Both charges constitute third degree felonies. She was later released after posting a $10,000 bond.

While officers could have, under state law, required the motorist to submit to a blood test to establish if she was intoxicated, they did not. They say the main factor in that decision was the fact that the woman was not in custody until hours after the crash occurred.

When the motorist was arrested, she allegedly exhibited slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes, as well as giving off an odor of alcohol. When booked at the county jail, she registered a 0.117 blood alcohol level on a breath test. The reading occurred approximately three hours after the accident, well above the legal limit of 0.02 for underage motorists. However, those test results would not be accepted as evidence in court because of the type of device used.

Source: Pensacola News Journal, “DUI test was trooper’s call after hit-and-run in Gulf Breeze,” Thyrie Bland, May 24, 2012