Off-Ramp

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USC Hit and Run

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Neon Tommy reports on the amount of alcohol Adianna Bachan had in her system when she was killed by hit and run driver March 29, and that defense attorneys may use it to win leniency for their clients.

The police report says Bachan and a friend were crossing the street with a green light very early in the morning on when Claudia Cabrera ran them down, killing Bachan and injuring Marcus Garfinkle.

The story includes a phrase that always rankles me:

Fluids drawn from Bachan's eye showed alcohol levels of .17, said Dan Anderson, the supervising criminalist who conducted the toxicology tests on the victim at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. Asked to describe Bachan's level of intoxication, he referred to the state law for drivers: "Double drunk. Not much to it other than that -- .08 is the legal limit."

Mr. Anderson is not the first to talk about the "legal limit" this way. Many reporters and anchors use it in the wrong context.

Set aside that it's NOT disputed that Cabrera only stopped the car so her passenger could remove Garfinkle from the hood (then she drove off), and that it's not illegal for a drunk person to cross the street on foot when the light is green ...

1. There's no legal limit for drinking if you're over 21 and not driving.

2. She was 18, so any amount was illegal (unless she was drinking at home with her parents).

3. The "legal limit" of .08 is a legal compromise, at which point most people agree you're really really impaired. But if you blow .075 I wouldn't want to be in the car with you. Some will likely comment (below - knock yourselves out) that they are fine drivers with a couple drinks in them, but it's pretty clear that any amount is detrimental.

Feel free to also comment below whether you agree with Buchan's mom that the defense attorneys would be "pigs" to bring it up, and that USC should be cracking down more on student drinking.

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