August 26, 2013
Steve and Patty Smith were driving from Denver to their home in Wyoming when Landra Fabrizius crossed into their lane at 80 MPH, killing them instantly. Fabrizius was also injured, which is why the Drug Recognition Expert was unable to complete a DRE assessment to confirm that she had been driving under the influence of drugs. What evidence he was able to collect convinced him that Fabrizius was DUID so, after conferring with his supervisor, he ordered the collection of a vial of blood. The blood was collected 5 hours after the collision. That length of delay is not unusual in fatal collisions, and is critical, since, unlike alcohol, drugs metabolize in a rapid, geometric rate. Fabrizius was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and DUID.
Fabrizius’s blood was tested and confirmed to contain 48 ng/ml of methamphetamine at the time of collection. Who know how high it was at the time of collision?
During the trial, the Smith’s daughters Rachel and Susan learned how difficult it is to achieve a justifiable conviction for driving under the influence of drugs in a state with inadequate DUID laws, like Colorado. The judge refused to allow admission of the laboratory evidence, on the grounds that the officers at the scene had no probable cause to collect the blood. With inadequate evidence that Fabrizius was on drugs, she escaped a DUID conviction.
Fabrizius was found guilty of two counts of vehicular homicide due to reckless driving, a Class 4 felony, and sentenced May 17, 2011 in Greeley to five years per homicide. Apparently, reckless driving along with a partial DRE assessment was insufficient probable cause to collect blood. Had Fabrizius been found guilty of vehicular homicide due to DUID, a Class 5 felony, her presumed sentencing range would have been double what she received.