Blood-alcohol level focus at driver’s hearing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Blood-alcohol tests of accused wrong-way driver focus in court

Patricia Collins Patricia Collins

A woman charged in a fatal crash on June 15, 2012, that killed a Bryan County sheriff's deputy was in court Friday for a motion hearing. 

Patricia Collins is charged with vehicular homicide, DUI and driving with a blood-alcohol level that's over the limit. She has pleaded not guilty. 

Sheriff's Deputy Sergeant Bobby Crapse was killed when his cruiser was struck head-on by Collins' car. Collins turned herself in on Nov. 30 and is currently out of jail on a $25,000 bond. 

Georgia State Patrol investigators said Collins' blood-alcohol level was .139 - almost twice Georgia's legal limit.

Her attorney wants that the blood-alcohol level thrown out.

The judge heard testimony between nine witnesses called between the defense and prosecution. All of which are trying to dispute whether Collins was conscious during her blood-alcohol test in the hospital.

Collins sat quietly next to her attorney as he questioned the emergency responders who worked on her the night of the crash. 

Defense attorney Steve Beauvais is asking that the judge throw out several pieces of evidence - mainly the blood-alcohol test results from Collins that night. He claims his client never consented to taking that test. 

Trooper Rod McLain went to the hospital the night of the wreck to get Collins' blood-alcohol level. 

"I waited for a few minutes, they came out with her, and she was unconscious," he said. 

A Lifestar paramedic, emergency room doctor and emergency room nurse assigned to Collins testified Friday that Collins was sedated, but conscious. 

"She probably did have her eyes open the complete time, but you could arouse her by speaking with her or touching her," said nurse Adrian Daughtery. 

According to the code of Georgia, anyone who has a driver's license is automatically subject to chemical tests, such as blood-alcohol tests. 

They can refuse to take the test, but if they don't refuse, then they must take the test. 

When it comes to drivers who are involved in accidents that result in serious injuries or traffic fatalities, the same applies. 

Blood-alcohol tests shall be administered as soon as possible to any person who operates a car on the highway; who is involved in any traffic accident resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. 

According to that same code, if "any person who is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering such person incapable of refusal shall be deemed not to have withdrawn the consent". 

That means if they can't refuse because they can't speak, they still have to take the test.

Any person who is dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering such person incapable of refusal shall be deemed not to have withdrawn the consent and the test or tests may be administered, according to the state code. 

The prosecution said that to the untrained eye, anyone who was heavily medicated may act and look unconscious. That's exactly how troopers described Collins that night. 

That's why prosecutors say Collins' blood-alcohol level must be used as evidence in the trial.

The judge did not rule on the motions on Friday. The defense and the prosecution have time to review Friday's transcripts, have another briefing- and then hopefully set a trial date. 

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