Politics & Government

Jury finds state Sen. Brandon Smith not guilty of DUI but guilty on speeding charge

State Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard
State Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard

FRANKFORT — A Franklin District Court jury found Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, not guilty Friday on a drunken-driving charge but guilty of speeding.

A relieved Smith told reporters afterward that "it feels good to get this cleaned up." The jury of three men and three women had deliberated only 12 minutes.

He also said he and his family had received death threats and other harassment since the charges were lodged against him by a Kentucky State Police trooper in Franklin County on Jan. 6, the first day of the 2015 legislative session.

For the verdict of going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, Smith was fined $40 plus court courts. If he had been convicted of driving under the influence, he could have been sentenced up to 30 days in jail plus a $500 fine.

Smith, who was been in the Senate since 2008 after being a member of the state House from 2001 to 2008, always maintained his innocence and said he was not drinking that day.

In February, he had to surrender his license but Assistant Franklin County Attorney Christopher Broaddus said after Friday's trial that it will be returned to him soon by the state Transportation Cabinet.

Broaddus said he was not surprised by the verdict. He said there were certain pieces of evidence that were inadmissible in the trial, such as a preliminary breath test at the scene.

According to Trooper Brian Miller's citation, Smith blew a .088 on the breath test at the scene. A person is presumed drunk when the alcohol-to-blood ratio is .08 and above.

Miller, the only witness for the prosecution, testified that when he took Smith to the Franklin County Regional Jail for an official Breathalyzer test, Smith said he would take the test but first wanted to talk to an attorney.

But Miller said Smith could not reach an attorney within the 15 minutes allotted by law and that Smith then refused to take the official test. State law requires that a defendant's license be revoked if he or she refuses a test to determine blood alcohol content.

The defense team of high-profile attorneys William E. Johnson of Frankfort and Scott C. Cox of Louisville showed the jury a video of Smith's time at the detention center. It had no audio but it showed Smith walking properly, even taking off his boots with no problems to show he had no contraband on him.

According to the citation, Smith was stopped on Village Drive after he was seen driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone on Leestown Road, near the intersection of Copperleaf Boulevard, in a Ford 250 truck.

Smith did not testify at his trial.

The only witness for the defense was Samir Allah, who operates a convenience store on Louisville Road in Franklin County.

He said Smith, a regular customer in his store, had bought a 12-can carton of an energy drink shortly before his arrest and that he had "noticed no impairment."

Smith's initial arraignment earlier this year was postponed after Johnson moved to dismiss his charge, citing a part of the state's 1891 constitution that says members of the General Assembly are "privileged from arrest" during the session.

That motion was withdrawn at the request of Smith and was not mentioned in Friday's trial.

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