The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors may no longer use a motorist’s refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as evidence of driving under the influence. As reported by the Associated Press, a prosecutor may not have scientific proof of an individual’s blood alcohol content level without the test results.
Prosecutors attempting to convict a defendant of a drunken driving offense without a required blood sample may not ask the court to increase sentencing or enhance penalties. The jury may also not allow a prosecutor to explain how refusing to provide a blood sample means that a defendant has admitted his or her guilt of intoxication.
Failure to submit a breath test may provide evidence
Under Kentucky’s laws, an officer may pull a motorist over for violating a traffic rule such as running a red light. If a motorist appears reasonably intoxicated, an officer may ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test.
The inability to stand on one leg, for example, combined with a strong odor of alcohol may cause an officer to request the driver to breathe into a portable testing machine. Unlike a blood test, if a motorist refuses to provide a breath sample, a prosecutor may introduce that as evidence when pursuing a DUI conviction.
Charged drivers may defend against roadside breath test results
Roadside breath test machines do not always provide accurate BAC levels. As noted by WebMD, a reading may provide a false breath test result if an officer did not calibrate the machine correctly. A driver may contest the machine’s reading to defend against a DUI charge.
Kentucky courts may no longer convict an individual of DUI without scientific evidence such as from a blood sample. If an officer obtains a warrant, however, a motorist may have a legal obligation to submit to a blood test.