Repeat Drunken Driver In Collision

Sites' Earlier Conviction Led To Landmark Ruling On Use Of Breath Test

December 15, 1991|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City man who was convicted of drunken driving twice and who reformed Maryland drunken-driving statutes with an appeal to the state's highest court, was injured in a suspected alcohol-related accident Tuesday, county police said.

Jacob Edward Sites, 60, crossedthe center line of Rogers Avenue at 8 p.m. and collided head-on withanother car, police said. In 1984, Sites won a challenge before the Maryland Court of Appeals, which mandated that drunken-driving suspects be permitted to call a lawyer before taking a breath test.

Sites and the other driver, Elizabeth Kristensen, 20, of the 5600block of Lightspun Lane in Columbia, were both listed in satisfactory and stable condition Friday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

The accident, which occurred about a quarter-mile from county police headquarters, left Sites with facial lacerations and Kristensen with leg fractures and possible head injuries, county rescueworkers said.

Police said they believe the accident to be alcohol-related and charges are pending the results of blood-alcohol tests on Sites. The results are expected to be returned in three weeks, police said.

Sites received six months' probation in May 1983 for an arrest in which police recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.17 percent. At the time, a level of 0.13 percent or higher was considered legally intoxicated in Maryland.

Sites appealed the conviction to the Maryland Court of Appeals on the grounds that due process was violated when police refused Sites' three requests to consult his attor

neybefore taking the breath test.

The court of appeals, in a precedent-setting decision, ruled that police must allow drunken-driving suspects "a reasonable opportunity" to call a lawyer before taking a Breathalyzer test.

Sites' conviction was upheld by the court, however, which ruled that he received a fair trial despite the police error.

Sites was charged again with driving while intoxicated in February 1986, when a county police officer observed him driving the wrong way down Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, court records said.

After 10 trial postponements in which Sites reported he was ill, Sitesreceived a 60-day suspended sentence and 18 months of supervised probation, court records said. The court also ordered him to undergo alcohol evaluation and therapy.

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