A latest Kentucky Supreme Court docket ruling barring sure proof in DUI circumstances has drawn sharp criticism from prosecutors, with Kentucky Lawyer Normal Daniel Cameron lately submitting a petition for a rehearing to reverse the choice.
The April 29 ruling, stemming from an attraction of a DUI conviction in 2014, bars prosecutors from introducing to the jury a defendant’s refusal to undergo a blood take a look at and not using a warrant.
The excessive court docket determination was cited this week in a profitable movement to suppress such a refusal by state Rep. Derek Lewis, R-London, who was acquitted Wednesday by a Laurel County jury of his driving-under-the-influence cost.
Cameron and prosecutors argue the Supreme Court docket ruling will make securing a conviction in DUI circumstances extraordinarily tough, particularly these involving drivers underneath the affect of medication that will not be detected by a breathalyzer.
Listed here are 5 issues to know concerning the subject:
How will the ruling change DUI prosecutions?
The bulk opinion of Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth Hughes said a defendant’s refusal to undergo a warrantless blood take a look at can’t be utilized by prosecutors as proof to show their guilt, nor to hunt a stiffer penalty.
Her opinion added that prosecutors couldn’t introduce such a blood take a look at refusal as a solution to clarify the lack of scientific proof displaying a defendant’s blood-alcohol stage was over the authorized restrict or the presence of different medication.
This was put to an early take a look at three weeks later within the DUI trial of Lewis, as his protection legal professional Conrad Cessna cited the opinion in a movement to suppress proof being offered that he refused to consent to a blood take a look at by the arresting officer.
Laurel District Decide W. L. “Skip” Hammons Jr. agreed that prosecutors couldn’t current this refusal as proof to the jury.
Nonetheless, Hammons additionally prohibited the protection from asserting in its closing assertion that the prosecution offered no scientific proof that Lewis was underneath the affect — over the objection of Cessna, who believed that was not according to the Supreme Court docket determination.
What was the court docket’s reasoning?
Hughes wrote in her majority opinion that the admission of a blood take a look at refusal would violate Fourth Modification protections in opposition to unreasonable searches and seizures.
Citing a 2016 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court docket that a warrant is required for a blood take a look at in DUI circumstances, Hughes mentioned it additionally prohibited such a refusal from getting used as proof and famous that officers didn’t try to hunt a warrant for a blood draw within the authentic 2014 case.
She added a “cheap risk exists” that the prosecution utilizing the defendant’s blood take a look at refusal as proof tainted the jury’s view on the case, siding with the Court docket of Appeals in overturning the conviction.
Within the partial dissenting opinion of Justice Laurance VanMeter, he wrote the prosecution was correctly allowed to make use of the refusal as proof and the conviction needs to be upheld, although he agreed such a refusal can’t be used to reinforce a DUI sentence.
What’s Daniel Cameron saying?
Lawyer Normal Cameron’s petition for a rehearing of the Supreme Court docket case was filed Wednesday, by which he asserted the court docket’s determination quantities to “incentivizing refusals in DUI circumstances.”
Of explicit concern to Cameron is how the ruling will have an effect on the prosecution of DUI circumstances involving medication as a substitute of simply alcohol, noting that state regulation particularly prohibits a warrant being issued for blood checks in DUI circumstances except they contain a loss of life or severe damage.
Cameron cited a Kentucky Workplace of Freeway Security statistic that 54% of the 16,749 arrests of suspected impaired drivers in Kentucky final 12 months concerned medication.
“What do these statistics matter?” Cameron requested. “As a result of the Court docket’s determination considerably — and needlessly — handicaps regulation enforcement from successfully prosecuting greater than half of the impaired driving circumstances in Kentucky annually.”
Cameron disagreed with Hughes on their interpretation of the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court docket case, arguing it didn’t categorically bar a blood take a look at refusal from being launched at trial.
What are prosecutors’ criticisms?
The Kentucky County Attorneys Affiliation issued a press release expressing disappointment with the choice, with its president, Kenton County Lawyer Stacy Tapke, noting its confluence with the continued opioid epidemic.
“Prosecutors must have each device within the toolbox to maintain drugged-drivers off our roadways for the security of our residents,” Tapke said. “These driving underneath the affect of illicit or prescribed drugs mustn’t obtain any breaks simply because they’re selecting to drive underneath the affect of medication relatively than alcohol.”
Tapke famous that county attorneys have been pushing the Kentucky Normal Meeting for years to amend DUI statutes to permit for warrants for blood take a look at in all circumstances, not simply these involving loss of life or severe damage, as have the vast majority of states and all of these bordering Kentucky.
Kenton County Commonwealth’s Lawyer Rob Sanders, the co-legislative liaison for the Kentucky Commonwealth’s Lawyer Affiliation, instructed The Courier Journal “if addicts work out the regulation, it’ll make prosecution of drugged driving practically unattainable, a minimum of till they significantly injure or kill somebody.”
Bentley, the prosecutor within the Lewis case, mentioned its unknowable what impact the refusal proof would have had on the jury, however “it is simply unlucky that we’ve circumstances now the place we won’t give juries the total image.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court docket will resolve whether or not to offer the case a rehearing as requested by Cameron, the place they might reverse or uphold the choice, or subject further clarifications.
The Kentucky Normal Meeting convenes the 2022 session in January, after they might take up laws pushed by prosecutors to increase the flexibility subject warrants for blood take a look at in DUI circumstances.
A invoice to take away the statutory restriction on a choose to solely subject a such a warrant in DUI circumstances involving a loss of life or damage passed the Senate in 2020 however died on the Home flooring. An analogous invoice was not filed on this 12 months’s session.
Attain reporter Joe Sonka at firstname.lastname@example.org and comply with him on Twitter at @joesonka. Assist sturdy native journalism by subscribing right now on the prime of this web page.