Driver asked for a lawyer before breathalyser test
The motorist accused of smashing into two pedestrians while driving under the influence wanted to call a lawyer before taking a breathalyser test, video evidence has shown.
At the trial of Tracey Pitt yesterday, the jury saw CCTV footage taken at the booking desk of Hamilton Police Station shortly after Ms Pitt arrived following her arrest.
When an officer explained to the defendant that she could contact a lawyer once she had provided a breathalyser test, Ms Pitt was heard to reply: “What test?”
When informed that she had an opportunity to refuse the test, or provide a breath sample, she replied: “And that's what I want to speak to my lawyer about.”
And when she was then asked if she was willing to provide a breath sample, Ms Pitt replied: “I don't understand what's going on.”
Ms Pitt, 51, was arrested in the early hours of February 29 last year following the accident on Woodlands Road. She is charged with two counts of causing grievous bodily harm by driving while impaired after twin brothers Randolph and Rudolph Smith, 36, were hit by her car. The twins received extensive injuries in the crash and remained in hospital for weeks. Randolph Smith can now only walk with the aid of a crutch and neither man can remember anything about the accident.
Ms Pitt called 911 from the scene and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired. The defendant claims she drank just two glasses of red wine before the incident, although she later refused to take a breath test.
During his third day of testimony yesterday, arresting officer Pc Tavoris Douglas explained to the court CCTV footage which showed Ms Pitt arriving at the station to be processed.
When questioned by defence lawyer Victoria Pearman, Pc Douglas acknowledged that Ms Pitt was not heard slurring her words and remained steady on her feet throughout the footage, even when she had to walk down a long corridor from the booking desk to the alcohol analyser room.
Ms Pearman also questioned why Pc Douglas had decided to arrest Ms Pitt, asking: “Based on all the evidence you observed about Ms Pitt — the fact that she appeared to be alert, the fact that there was no slurred speech and she did not appear to be confused at the scene — on the basis of that I'm going to suggest to you that you had your doubts about whether Ms Pitt was impaired.”
Pc Douglas, who had earlier testified that he could smell intoxicants on the defendant, replied: “Initially I had reason to believe that she was. I had reason to believe from what I saw at the scene. It was possible that she was impaired. It was a suspicion.”
But when asked if he had any doubts as to whether Ms Pitt was impaired, the officer replied: “I wasn't certain.”
Pc Douglas also explained how the carnage at the crash site had left him traumatised.
“Blood was coming out of Randolph's mouth, his leg was curved up in the air with this amount of bone showing, and his foot was just hanging,” he said.
“I have been to a few fatals where people have died at the scene. The reason it shook me up so much because I haven't seen that in fatals — for the person to be alive and screaming. I didn't expect these people to be alive and so it was a total surprise to see them with their injuries alive.
“These guys looked like a truck had run over them because of the way they were twisted up. There was a pulse there, but it was very faint and when the gentleman started moving, it took me by surprise.”
The trial continues.