Hit-and-run suspect may not be charged with DUI

Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 08:30:42-05
Florida Highway Patrol tells ABC Action News that a woman who ran over a tow truck driver on the Howard Franklin bridge Monday morning likely won't be charged with DUI, even if she was drunk at the time of the crash.
About 12 hours passed between the crash early Monday morning and the time St. Petersburg police were able to find her. FHP and lots of other legal experts in the field say that's far too much time to pass for a breathalyzer test to be effective.
There are other tests that could effectively measure alcohol consumption that go further back in time, including a urine test, and a hair and nail test, but those tests are less precise about time and don't historically hold up in court for drunk driving cases.
"The alcohol testing is more intense than people really know, it's much more than just the breath alcohol that we can do or a saliva," explains drug and alcohol testing expert Kathy Suarez.
Suarez has run Drug and Alcohol Testing of America Inc. for about a decade now. The family clinic is right across the street from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. At her clinic, which tests people for court-ordered family law cases, as well as private testing for occupational services, Suarez uses the full array of alcohol and drug testing tools, like the urine test, which she describes as very accurate.
However, Suarez says even those other tests wouldn't be able to precisely be able to prove a possibly drunk driver was intoxicated while they were behind the wheel if they weren't tested right after their drive.
Still, many people including Suarez wonder why people with a history of drunk driving aren't better monitored by the state.
"You know the law states as far as probation that when someone gets arrested for drugs and they go to their probation officer and they are tested for drugs periodically on a random basis. So why isn't someone tested periodically for alcohol on a random basis when they've had three DUIs?' Suarez said.
State records show Huffman completed "DUI School" in 2011, and she completed a "substance abuse treatment" course in 2013.