The jury is deliberating the DUI death case brought against former Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz. Leyritz is accused of driving drunk, thereby causing an intersection collision that led to the death of the driver of the vehicle with which he collided.
The prosecution claims that Leyritz ran a red light and that his blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was .18, well above the Florida legal limit of .08, which is the same legal limit for an Illinois DUI. At the time Leyritz was tested, 3 hours after the crash, his blood alcohol content was .14.
The state (prosecutor) hired a toxicology expert who testified about the process of “reverse extrapolation”. Reverse extrapolation simply means that the expert worked the numbers backwards. He estimated Leyritz’s blood alcohol content when he was driving was .18.
On the other hand, Leyritz offered a spirited defense of the charges. First, no witness was able to state with certainty that Leyritz’s light was red. At most, they testified it was yellow when he entered the intersection. One witness was a passenger in Leyritz’s vehicle. The other was a pedestrian.
Furthermore, Leyritz had his own expert. This expert also relied upon reverse extrapolation and the concept of the alcohol absorption curve. The idea is that alcohol does not enter the bloodstream (and therefore effect the blood alcohol content) immediately upon drinking. It takes some time.
And then, after it enters the bloodstream, it stays there for a period of time but then starts leaving, through sweat, urine and exhaling. This is known as the “elimination rate”. Thus, factors such as how much you drink, when you had your last drink, your body weight and the time you are tested can make a difference in whether you were drunk at the time you were driving.
Another factor that the jury heard was that the deceased driver was drunk. Her blood alcohol reading was .18. Because she died instantly, her blood stopped flowing; therefore, the absorption curve and the elimination rate would not be relevant. The .18 reading is an accurate representation of her blood alcohol level at the time she was driving.
These are complicated legal and factual concepts. A DUI lawyer can present the evidence and find the experts who can help you defend a DUI charge.