Allbritton, 46, was initially unresponsive, roused briefly and “mumbled some unknown words and passed out again,” Deputy Robert Rabitt wrote. An ambulance was summoned, Allbritton was taken to the hospital and a blood test showed that his blood alcohol content was 0.495, or more than six times the legal limit in Florida and most states, according to Rabitt’s report. When his blood was drawn again about five hours later, the BAC was 0.333. The legal definition of intoxicated in most states is 0.08.
The blood alcohol numbers are astounding to those familiar with drinking and how it affects people. “The typical person should be dead at that level” of 0.495 grams of ethyl alcohol per 100 ml of blood, said Paul Doering, an emeritus professor of pharmacotherapy at the University of Florida and longtime trial expert in drunk driving cases in that state. “At 0.333, also the guy should be a dead man. I have never seen a blood-alcohol level that high.”
When Allbritton was coherent later that afternoon, the deputy read Allbritton his Miranda rights and interviewed him at the hospital. “Allbritton was asked,” Rabitt wrote, “if he had consumed any alcoholic beverages…Allbritton stated he had not. However, when confronted with BAC levels of hospital-drawn blood, Allbritton remained silent and ceased speaking with” Rabitt.
Allbritton was charged with drunk driving, felony child neglect and refusing to take a breath test, which he did at the hospital after his blood had already been taken. He could not be reached for comment because he remains in the Lee County Jail on $10,000 bond. His children were released to their mother. The Lee County sheriff’s office declined to discuss the case while it is pending. Estero is on Florida’s west coast, about 20 miles north of Naples.
“Driving drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle is a form of child abuse,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She said Allbritton’s allegedly high BAC was “unbelievably dangerous, and the fact that he had child passengers in the car is unacceptable and egregious. Every child deserves a designated non-drinking driver.”
Sheehey-Church noted that 46 states, including Florida, “have laws allowing for drunk drivers to be charged with separate penalties if this heinous crime occurs with a child passenger in a vehicle. MADD believes every state should enact a law similar to Leandra’s Law in New York to ensure our children are protected from this 100 percent preventable violent crime. ”
The case was first reported by The Smoking Gun, which repeated the statement from Deputy Rabitt’s report that Allbritton’s first BAC number was 604 (!!). But that number is not quite accurate. Doering explained that “medical blood,” taken in a hospital or clinical setting, is handled and calculated differently than “legal blood,” such as readings obtained from a breathalyzer. Doering said the typical conversion factor for blood-alcohol content is that legal blood is about 82 percent of medical blood, leading to the calculation that Allbritton’s legal BAC was 0.495 at the hospital.
Doering said he speaks to local police departments about such matters, and tells them, “If you’re 0.275, that’s commode-hugging, knee-walking drunk. If you tried to apply the standard application to that, by all rights he should be dead.”
The group Be Responsible About Drinking has said that at 0.30 BAC, a person is likely to be in a stupor and have little comprehension of where they are. At 0.35, a coma is possible at what they said is “the level of surgical anesthesia.” At 0.40, coma and death are possible due to respiratory arrest, BRAD said. The British singer Amy Winehouse was found to have died from alcohol toxicity with a BAC of 0.40.
The police report said Allbritton is 6’1″ tall and weighs 190 pounds. A chart published by Clemson University’s Redfern Health Center shows that, in five hours, a 190-pound man would have a BAC of 0.12 after ten drinks. If Allbritton had been drinking for five hours, this means he would have had roughly 40 standard drinks.
Note: This post has been updated with a comment from the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.