Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Hudson Valley

Police: Breath screening tests not enough to charge

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Albany/HV: State Police await toxicology results in fatal crash
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Charges are still pending for the 22-year-old Clifton Park man who crashed into a car of teens Saturday. Two were killed, another two badly injured. State Police say they're waiting on toxicology reports. Why the hold up? Our Megan Cruz finds out.

LATHAM, N.Y. -- "There's only so many scientists in the lab. They have thousands of cases."

Sgt. Dan Larkin addresses why it could take up to 90 days for blood test results to come back from the New York State Police Crime lab. That's where Dennis Drue's blood sample is. Investigators eager to see what his BAC was during Saturday's deadly crash on the Northway.

"Typically, a blood alcohol reading is going to take a couple weeks minimum," said Larkin. "That can be sooner if it's a very serious case."

And investigators say they have asked the lab to expedite Drue's blood work.

Those results will dictate the severity of the charges he'll face for causing a two car crash that killed Shen seniors Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers and badly injured Shen junior Matt Hardy and Shaker senior Bailey Wind.

State Police say Drue was given two breath screening tests at the scene and that both tested positive for alcohol.

"We don't rely on it for the actual BAC reading," said Larkin. "But we do rely on it whether there's alcohol detected in a person's breath. It's scientific reliability does not rise to the level of this breath test instrument."

This is the breath test that matters in court. The one that's back at the police station.

"The results of that is immediate," he said. "Within a minute or two after the sample is obtained, we get the result and that result is then documented on a form. So, we have that and can go to court right then and there."

But Saturday night, investigators say Drue sustained head injuries and had to go to the hospital. That's why he couldn't be brought to a station to take a breath test. Instead, at the hospital, they drew his blood.

"Ninety-nine percent of our cases where we don't obtain a breath sample, we take blood," said Larkin.

Results which if expedited, investigators say could be back by the end of this week.

"People's lives are at stake," said Larkin. "In some cases, people could end up in prison for a long time, so we want to make sure it's done right."

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