Britt Reid’s Case And Vehicular Assault Investigations

Accident-Investigation-300x200A few days before the Kansas City Chiefs were to play in the Super Bowl, assistant coach Britt Reid (son of head coach Andy Reid) was involved in a three-car accident which left a five-year-old in critical condition.  Earlier this month, Britt Reid was charged with the felony offense of ‘DWI-Serious Physical Injury’.  While this incident occurred in Missouri, the investigation which led to the charge is essentially the same as a Vehicular Assault investigation in Ohio.


Vehicular Assault In Ohio
In Ohio, the charge of Aggravated Vehicular Assault is similar to the ‘DWI-Serious Physical Injury’ charge faced by Britt Reid.  Aggravated Vehicular Assault in Ohio may be charged when a driver operates a motor vehicle ‘under the influence’ or ‘over the limit’ and causes serious physical harm to another person.  If a driver is convicted of this offense, the potential sentence typically includes a mandatory prison term of up to five years and a mandatory license suspension of up to ten years.  Before a driver is charged with Aggravated Vehicular Assault, there is a law enforcement investigation.

Field Sobriety Testing
In the law enforcement investigation, one of the first steps is field sobriety testing, assuming the driver is physically capable of performing the tests.  Officers typically administer three standardized field sobriety tests.  The first test is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test.  As the driver’s eyes follow a stimulus (i.e., finger or pen), the officer detects involuntary jerking in the driver’s eyeballs.  The second test is the Walk And Turn test.  As the driver walks 18 heel-to-toe steps on a (real or imaginary) line, the officer grades mistakes in the driver’s execution of the test instructions.  The third test is the One Leg Stand test.  As the driver stands on one leg for thirty seconds, the officer looks for swaying, hopping, using arms for balance, and putting down the raised foot.

If the officer observes enough ‘clues’ on the standardized field sobriety tests, the officer concludes the driver is likely ‘under the influence’ or ‘over the limit’.  In Britt Reid’s case, officers reported he did not perform well on the tests.

Drug Recognition Evaluations
Reid reportedly told officers he consumed alcohol and prescription medication before the crash.  In cases where a driver is suspected of using prescription medication or illegal drugs, officers often administer a drug recognition evaluation.  The 12-step evaluation, conducted by a ‘Drug Recognition Expert’, includes quasi-medical assessments, balancing tests, and eye tests.  The final step of the evaluation is obtaining a sample of the driver’s bodily fluids (blood and/or urine).

Testing For Alcohol/Drugs In Bodily Fluids
The driver’s bodily fluid sample(s) are sent to a forensic laboratory for testing.  Although most states test only blood, Ohio tests both blood and urine.  Using testing methods such as gas chromatography, lab technicians report the presence and quantity of alcohol and or drugs.  There is often a lengthy wait for the results of laboratory testing.  This may explain why Reid was not charged with a crime until April when the crash occurred in February.  In his case, the reported alcohol level was .113; above the prohibited concentration of .080.

Accident Investigation & Reconstruction
Soon after the crash occurs, officers conduct and accident investigation to collect evidence.  That evidence is often later used for accident reconstruction:  scientifically determining how the accident occurred and identifying the cause of the accident.  Accident reconstruction often involves the use of algebraic equations, computer-generated simulations, and analysis of ‘black box’ reports.

Investigations Are Consequential
In a Vehicular Assault case, one person is seriously injured, and another person faces serious punishment, so the investigation must be completed skillfully.  Errors in the investigation may result in legitimate defenses for the accused.  A person accused of Vehicular Assault should seek the assistance of lawyers with expertise in Vehicular Assault defense.


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