Driver Might Have Been Legally Sober, Expert Says
By Susan Saulny
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 20, 1996 ; Page C04
Brian T. Flood's blood alcohol level could have been below the legal limit when he was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident, an expert witness testified yesterday at Flood's vehicular manslaughter trial in Prince George's County.
The prosecution called on Barry Levine, chief toxicologist for the medical examiner, for his opinion on the sobriety of a hypothetical 180-pound man -- a person comparable to Flood -- in several scenarios involving drinking.
Flood was the spokesman for County Executive Wayne K. Curry at the time of the Dec. 29, 1994, accident in which Flood's car struck and killed Evelyn Virginia Manning, who was standing behind her stalled car on Route 202 in Cheverly.
In earlier testimony, jurors heard a bartender from the Landover Holiday Inn say that he served Flood six vodka tonics within two hours shortly before the accident occurred at 10:45 p.m.
Flood, later fired by Curry, is charged in Circuit Court with 13 traffic offenses, including vehicular manslaughter.
Flood's lawyer, Leonard R. Stamm, said Flood was not legally drunk at the time of the accident and drove off in a panic, unaware he had struck Manning. He did not take a breath test for police until 10 hours after the accident.
Under cross-examination by Stamm, Levine said that if a 180-pound man consumed six mixed drinks between 7 and 9 p.m., his blood alcohol concentration could be between 0.05 and 0.10 by 10:45 p.m. The legal limit in Maryland is 0.10.
"Point zero five is possible but highly unlikely," Levine said.
Levine used a formula that related the amount and strength of alcohol consumed to body weight.
Many organizations concerned about drinking and driving offer similar guidelines on how a certain rate of alcohol consumption affects the body.
"But it all depends," said Tim Hurd, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "You'd have to know how much alcohol is in a drink, its proof, exactly how many ounces, the size of the drinks. Plus it depends on the drinker and his or her ability to metabolize alcohol."
Under questioning by the prosecution, led by Roland N. Patterson Jr., Levine said the six drinks would have affected the hypothetical 180-pound man's ability to operate a vehicle.
When Flood did take the breath test, it revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.11. Levine testified that if the 180-pound man had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 when tested, and hadn't had anything to drink in the previous 12 hours, his level would have been 0.23 at 10:45 the previous night.
Stamm said Flood, now 37, drank a pint of bourbon when he got to his Hyattsville home.
Staff writer Cecile Betancourt contributed to this report.
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