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Louisville Criminal Defense Blog

Kentucky uses sobriety checkpoints to keep the public roads safe

There are a number of factors that can make the public roadways more or less safe for those driving. Weather conditions are one issue that can drastically increase the amount of risk people have in a vehicle. Poor driving practices, including drunk driving, are another risk factor that the public has very little control over.

However, lawmakers and law enforcement are acutely aware of the danger that drunk driving poses to people on the road. They, therefore, take many different enforcement steps to keep the roads in Kentucky as safe as possible by reducing the number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol. Sobriety checkpoints, also known as traffic safety checkpoints or drunk driving roadblocks, are one such tool commonly utilized by Kentucky law enforcement.

Breath tests can yield false positive results

When a driver is stopped by a member of the Kentucky law enforcement community on suspicion of driving under the influence, it is common practice for the officer to administer one or more field sobriety tests to gather evidence. A breath test is often given to gauge the driver's blood alcohol content by measuring the ethanol content of the individual's breath. If the driver blows over the limit, this is generally used as part of the grounds for an arrest. However, there is some medical evidence to question the accuracy of the breath test under certain circumstances.

Health experts report that different diets can cause the body to produce certain chemicals that breath tests may not be able to properly read. For instance, the keto diet promotes low carbohydrate intake, which triggers the liver to burn fat, thereby creating acetone that may be released through the breath as isopropyl alcohol. It is a subject of dispute whether the handheld device used by patrol officers can accurately distinguish between ethanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. In addition, certain medical conditions such as diabetes or acid reflux have been shown to yield false test results.

What a preliminary hearing is used for

When a person is taken into custody for DUI in Kentucky or most other states, that individual has the right to plead not guilty to the charge. If this happens, the next step in the legal process is a preliminary hearing. At this point, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence for a defendant to stand trial. The length of the hearing will depend on the amount of evidence that needs to be reviewed.

Typically, the defendant's attorney will argue on his or her behalf at a preliminary hearing. A prosecutor may choose to call witnesses to testify or produce physical evidence to establish their assertion that an individual drove while under the influence. The defense will then have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or otherwise cast doubt on any of the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Facial recognition tools are becoming popular with retailers

In Louisville, Kentucky and elsewhere, unsuspecting shoppers may find themselves banned from a retail establishment without their prior knowledge. The actual reason for the banishment may be due to facial recognition software.

The use of the software is becoming more popular among shopkeepers as a means of security. Modern security cameras may catch a shoplifter in the act and record the face of the culprit. Software will catalogue facial features into a program for future reference.

Kentucky governor signs DUI bill into law

In the state of Kentucky, individuals who have multiple DUI convictions are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The same is true for first-time offenders who have been convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content of .15 percent or higher. A new law will now require all DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device or face the prospect of an extended license suspension.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving came out in support of the law. They claim that such legislation can reduce impaired driving fatalities by up to 16 percent. Other groups such as the Kentucky Distllers' Association were also in favor of the new legislation. It passed through the state Senate in February and was recently passed in the House just as the legislative session ended. The legislation will go into effect in July 2020, making Kentucky the 33rd state to have such a law on the books.

Do you have to let the police in?

You're sitting at home watching television one night when there's a knock on the door. You're not expecting anyone, so you pull out your phone and check the doorbell camera feed. There is a squad car sitting in the driveway and two officers standing at your door.

You go over and talk to them through the window. They ask, in a rather forceful manner, if you will open the door and let them inside. You turn around to pause the show you were watching, and you take a moment to think over your options.

Young people more likely to be arrested than past generations

Decades ago, young people living in Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S. were much less likely to be arrested before the age of 26 than they are today, according to a new study. The study was conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

To complete the study, RAND researchers examined data from the long-running Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a survey that tracked information on 35,000 Americans from 5,000 families over 50 years. They found that adults between the ages of 26 and 35 were 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested before the age of 26 than adults ages 66 and above. Over the course of the Panel Study survey period, the arrest rate for young white men increased almost three times, and the arrest rate for women from all ethnic groups increased from 1 in 100 to 1 in 7.

Court clarifies how to evaluate personal beliefs of jurors

>Jury selection in Kentucky involves the careful evaluation of potential jurors. The defense and prosecution generally have differing priorities, and a judge must also consider whether someone could act appropriately as a juror. All parties will scrutinize the personal beliefs of jurors, and decisions to remove people from jury selection sometimes create legal controversies. In one out-of-state case, a defense attorney challenged a judge's dismissal of a potential juror for cause and received a decision from the state's highest court.

The defense attorney had been representing an African-American man accused of trafficking in cocaine. During jury selection, the judge disqualified a woman who expressed her view that the system treated African-American men unfairly. Although she had added that she would act impartially as a juror, the judge deemed her a bad fit for the jury despite the defense attorney's protests. A jury later went on to convict the defendant.

Insurance fraud defined

A type of white-collar crime that impacts people in Kentucky and across the country is insurance fraud, but the manner in which insurance fraud is defined varies from state to state. Often times, insurance fraud laws are written into a state's criminal code. In other cases, these statutes are contained among other fraud laws. Charges of insurance fraud can also vary, with some classified as felonies and others as misdemeanors.

Insurance fraud can involve a variety of policies, including health care and property liability, At trial, a prosecutor in some jurisdictions will be required to show that documentation containing false or misleading information was used in order to obtain an insurance policy or reimbursement.

Alternatives to incarceration reduce recidivism rates

The recent passage of the FIRST STEP Act has been lauded by civil rights advocates as a welcome first step on the road toward a fairer and less discriminatory criminal justice system, but the federal law does not offer any relief to more than 2 million inmates of state prisons and jails in Kentucky and around the country. Much of the discussion over mass incarceration has focused on the disproportionately harsh sentences handed down to African-American defendants in narcotics cases, but most of the progress in this area has been made by local authorities exploring alternatives to prison.

In New York City, lawmakers, community groups and law enforcement have worked together to find ways to lower recidivism and make neighborhoods safer, and the number of people under lock and key in city jails has fallen from more than 21,000 in 1991 to fewer than 8,200 as a result. Programs designed to rehabilitate rather than punish offenders in New York City are operated by nonprofit groups, prosecutors and the courts.

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