Kentucky Senator Smith acquitted of DUI charge, convicted of speeding

Brandon Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith has been acquitted of driving under the influence. The same jury convicted him of speeding.

Smith was ordered to pay a $40 fine and court costs because of the speeding charge. Smith's license, which had been taken away because he did not take a breathalyzer test, will be returned with the not guilty verdict on the DUI charge.

The Perry County lawmaker's trial began Friday morning in Franklin District Court. It took the jury about 10 minutes to acquit Smith, who was arrested on the very first day of the 2015 legislative session.

Ultimately, the case hinged on whether the jury believed the trooper who arrested Smith because no breathalyzer test was given. It was the trooper's word against Smith's.

Trooper Brian Miller testified that on Jan. 6 he pulled over Smith because he was driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone on Leestown Road in Frankfort. When Miller approached Smith's car, the trooper says he immediately smelled alcohol on Smith's breath.

Smith has denied the allegations that he was drunk, and in February, he entered a not guilty plea to that charge.

During Friday's trial, Smith's attorney, Bill Johnson, tried to explain the entire situation to the jury so they could understand the circumstances of his arrest that night. Smith's attorney said the state senator wasn't trying to refuse the test; rather he wanted to talk to an attorney first.

Johnson said Smith was offered an alcoholic drink around 2:30 p.m. but only had a sip. Then, around 6:30 p.m., he was at a Thai restaurant where he had some saki. Johnson said he didn't drink that much.

Afterward, Johnson said, Smith stopped at a convenience store to get an energy drink. The owner of a convenience store said he couldn't tell that Smith was impaired.

Johnson told the jury that Smith was not aware of a speed change on Leestown Road in Frankfort. He said he was trying to get into contact with his attorney when he ran out of time before taking the breathalyzer. Johnson said Smith had been working since 6 a.m. when he got pulled over, and that is why his eyes were bloodshot.

The jury deliberated for about 10 minutes before returning its verdict.

Smith says this was the outcome he expected but that this had been hard on his family.

"We've had threats because of this. It's emotional but we knew this would be the outcome," he said afterward.

Smith serves the 30th District which includes Bell, Breathitt, Johnson, Leslie, Magoffin and Perry Counties. He is on multiple committees, including Appropriations & Revenue and Natural Resources & Energy. He is the vice chair of the Transportation committee.

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