FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Lawmakers want to change Kentucky’s DUI laws to get rid of what they call a loophole.
DUI suspects are allowed to refuse a blood test after a crash right now, and police said that creates a challenge, especially with drivers under the influence of drugs.
On Wednesday, legislators heard from county attorneys who said a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court earlier this year is having a direct impact on their ability to prosecute some DUI cases.
“The McCarthy case holds that going forward prosecutors are now on notice that a DUI arrestee has a constitutional right to refuse a blood test. And his or her decision to refuse a blood test cannot be testified to by the arresting officer, so the refusal can no longer be introduced as evidence. Nor can it even be commented on by prosecutors,” Woodford County Attorney Alan George said.
They want to amend the DUI laws to allow officers to obtain a search warrant when a suspect refuses a request for a blood test.
Representative Patrick Flannery said he has pre-filed a bill for the next session. But the exact wording of that bill is still being finalized.
“Currently statutory law does not allow a search warrant on a DUI case unless there is a death or physical injury. We are going to strike that,” Rep. Flannery said.
George said this impacts drugged driving the most, because there’s no field test, like a breathalyzer, they can use as evidence. He also said laws like this one are becoming more common.
“According to the most recent Mothers Against Drunk Driving report, 34 states already allow for search warrants without any conditions in the event of a blood test refusal. Including all seven of our bordering states,” George said.
Lawmakers were generally supportive but also recognized that the original case could still end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“You use a search warrant any other time, except for that and I think that’s dumb. And it does tie your hands,” Sen. Whitney Westerfield said.
George Alan said in 2020, 43% of the DUI arrests in Kentucky involved only drugs, and another 11% involved a combination of drugs and alcohol.