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BAC levels will determine sentence for drunk driver in fatal Esplanade crash, expert says

The blood alcohol analysis test returned a .140 percent blood alcohol content but police are estimating a higher level of .215 because the blood wasn’t drawn immediately.


Tashonty Toney, 32, the driver in the fatal Esplanade Avenue car crash that killed two and injured seven had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash, said NOPD spokesperson Andy Cunningham on Tuesday.

“Louisiana law is very clear,” said WWL-TV Legal Analyst Chick Foret. “The penalties are increased as the blood results are worse for the defendant.”  

Toney declined a breath-based alcohol test at the scene of the crime. A blood sample was taken after being arrested, according to Cunningham. 

The blood alcohol analysis test returned a .140 percent blood alcohol content but police are estimating a higher level of .215 because the blood wasn’t drawn immediately.

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Foret said there could be a fight over which results become final.

“This going to be a battle of the experts,” said Foret. The question is… is it going to be is .140 or is it going to .215? Each side is going to have experts, probably several experts who are going to testify.”

Police say Toney hit several cyclists on several blocks as drove his Chevrolet Camaro on Esplanade Avenue on the night of March 2nd. Seven people were hurt. Sharree Walls, 27, and David Hynes, 31, were killed. 

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In Louisiana, if found guilty of killing more than one person the judge shall mandate a consecutive sentence. 

“This is a sentencing range that goes from five years, of which he’s got to do at least three, up to 30 years for each victim,” said Foret.

According to Dr. James Aiken with LSU Health Emergency Medicine, even a BAC of just slightly above the legal limit of .08 can still be deadly.

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“I want to emphasize it’s not physical impairment,” said Aiken. “It’s how we make decisions and our willingness to put ourselves and others in dangerous circumstances.”

According to Alcohol.org, at .2 percent BAC, blackouts begin. 

"Confusion, feeling dazed, and disorientation are common. Standing and walking may require help, as balance and muscle control will have deteriorated a lot. Sensations of pain will change, so if you fall and seriously hurt yourself, you may not notice, and you are less likely to do anything about it. Nausea and vomiting are likely to occur, and the gag reflex will be impaired, which could cause choking or aspirating on vomit. Blackouts begin at this BAC, so you may participate in events that you don’t remember."

Police said the complete toxicology results are still pending.

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According to Cunningham, Tuesday’s results are only preliminary. It’s still unknown if Toney was under the influence of any other substances at the time of the crash. Toney’s attorney requested his client's bail be lowered from just over a half-million dollars to a $135,000.

The request will be considered on Thursday.

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