UPI reported that Courtney Frances Stewart, the twenty year old who was driving Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart had a blood alcohol level of .06 the night she, Adenhart and another individual were killed in a DUI related accident. These results were determined by the coroner who examined the bodies of the decedents and conducted toxicology tests. While some might think the reading is low, California Vehicle Code § 23136 makes it a crime for anyone who is under the age of twenty one to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .01 or more. Andrew Thomas Gallo, who had a 2006 DUI conviction has been charged with murder for the deaths of the three back on April 9th of this year.
There is no doubt that if this case goes to trial Gallo’s defense attorney will try to use the issue of Stewart’s intoxication as part of his defense. The focus of the trial would then be not whether Gallo was impaired at the time of the accident. Rather, the defense will try to show that Stewart’s actions were the cause of the accident and the her alcohol ingestion impaired her ability to operate in a safe manner. All of this of course assumes that the physical evidence at the scene and any eyewitness observations supports this defense. It is important to keep in mind that someone’s blood alcohol level at the time of death does not necessarily reflect accurately that person’s blood alcohol at the time of operation. Factors that defense lawyers always like to know is how many drinks the person had, over what time period were the drinks ingested, how much food did the person eat that day, the person’s height and weight and whether proper procedures were followed when taking the blood sample. Expect to see the defense engage a toxicologist and an accident reconstructionist to assist in trial preparations.