Tulsa Crash Victim Says Drunk Driver Back On Road Hour After Arrest

Friday, November 11th 2011, 6:37 pm
By: News On 6

A woman who was hit by a suspected drunk driver is outraged that the suspect was not arrested and driving again within an hour, still reeking of alcohol.

She was even more outraged when she learned this was not the suspect's first offense.

Cathy, her sister, brother and sister-in-law were driving west on 31st street on October 29th around 11:30 at night when a woman turning from New Haven, going east, came right at them.

"She went ahead and turned and was in my lane and kept going. I was honking, flashing and I swerved, but, she finally hit me," Cathy said.

The damage was basically a scratched and broken mirror, but Cathy followed the woman, honking her horn and flashing her lights since it was a hit-and-run.

"She finally pulls over and I told her she hit my car and she denied it. We did call the police. The police come out and give her a field sobriety test and she couldn't stand up, she was so drunk," Cathy said.

The officer took the woman, identified in the police report as 53-year-old Frances Elliott, into custody and left. Within the hour, Cathy says she went back to take pictures of any damage on Elliott's car for insurance purposes.

"She came out of nowhere, says, ‘hi, I'm back,' got into her car, jumped the curb and drove off, still smelling of alcohol," she said.

Cathy was stunned and called the officer to ask why. She says he told her the breathalyzer machine was broken, so they didn't book or charge Elliott but, issued her a ticket for the collision and drove her home.

Court records show Elliott was charged with driving under the influence in 1993 and pled guilty to driving impaired. Cathy says it's not the damage that bugs her; it's the principal of it all.

"She could've hit us head-on, killed all of us. My mom could've gotten the call saying all your kids were killed that night. That's why upsets me, that nothing has been done about it," she said.

News On 6 tried to contact Elliott, but got no response.

Tulsa's Police Captain Travis Yates is the supervisor for the officer. Captain Yates says he agrees with Cathy that more could've been done.

He says one intoxilyzer was not working that night, and the second one malfunctioned, and the officer tried to fix it but couldn't. He says the officer drove the woman home, having no idea; she would get right back out and drive again.

He says what the officer did was legal and within policy and officers must rely on their training and discretion for each decision, but admits there were additional options.