DUI Ruling Gives Suspects More Room to Fight

Kentucky Supreme Court Overturns DUI Ruling

DUI Defense Gets a Little Easier

COURT OVERTURNS CONVICTION CLAIMING ALCOHOL LEVEL WHILE DRIVING DIDN’T
MATTER

By Brandon Ortiz

HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER

A Kentucky Supreme Court ruling yesterday gave suspected drunk drivers
room to question blood-alcohol tests that are narrowly above the legal
limit.

The court unanimously overturned the 2003 driving under the influence
conviction of Nelson Lopez of Lexington. It said county prosecutors
erroneously argued that it did not matter what his blood-alcohol level
was when he was driving, so long as it measured above the legal limit of
0.08 within two hours of his leaving the car.

Defense attorney Fred E. Peters argued that such a standard could
allow prosecutors to convict someone who hadn’t taken a sip of alcohol
before he was on the road. He listed several hypothetical scenarios,
including one of a stranded motorist who has a drink while waiting for
assistance with his broken-down car.

He also said it can take as long as 60 to 90 minutes after alcohol is
consumed for it to actually enter the bloodstream, though he offered no
evidence of that at trial.

Lopez was charged with DUI on Oct. 11, 2002, and blew a 0.08
blood-alcohol level about an hour after his arrest.

In an interview yesterday, Peters said the ruling is a small win for
defense attorneys. He said some local judges have prohibited defendants
from arguing that an alcomonitor test didn’t reflect their blood-alcohol
level when they were actually driving.

“It’s still a tough sell, but it at least gives you a chance to put on
a defense,” Peters said.

Fayette County Attorney Margaret H. Kannensohn said the ruling creates
confusion for prosecutors. She said it effectively prohibits them from
arguing a third of the jury instructions in drunken driving cases.

“It would be as if a soldier were given three bullets with
instructions to fire them,” she said, “then told that they had wrongly
fired the third bullet, which leads to confusion.”

She said county prosecutors will have to review the decision to figure
out how to proceed. She added that she hopes the General Assembly
clarifies the issue during its next session.

The state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving worried that the
ruling will hinder prosecution of drunken drivers.

“When the public believes or perceives that the DUI laws don’t have
teeth, then it breeds disdain for the law,” state executive director
Angela Leigh said.

See Article: www.kentucky.com

more:


LEXINGTON, Ky. A Kentucky Supreme Court ruling now gives drunk drivers
room to question blood-alcohol tests that are narrowly above the legal
limit.

Yesterday the court unanimously overturned the ruling of a Lexington
man, who was convicted of driving under the infuence.

Nelson Lopez was charged with a D-U-I on October 11th, 2002, and blew
a 0.08 blood-alcohol level about an hour after his arrest.

The court says county prosecutors wrongly argued that it didn’t matter
what his blood-alcohol level was when he was driving, as long as Lopez’s
level measured above the legal limit of 0.08 within two hours of his
leaving the car.

Defense attorney Fred E. Peters says that standard could allow
prosecutors to convict someone who hadn’t taken a sip of alcohol before
driving on the road.

See Article: WKYT 27

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