A Louisville man is facing charges for DUI and reckless driving after plowing his car into a home and injuring a young girl. According to reports, 63-year-old Richard Bell blacked out behind the wheel, lost control, and drove into the side of a house on Candleworth Drive. A young girl was sleeping in a bed pushed up against the wall and sustained severe injuries.
Police observed that Bell was unsteady on his feet and refused to take his sunglasses off while they were investigating the crash. They administered a field sobriety test and subsequently arrested him on suspicion of DUI and reckless driving.
You Don’t Have to File a Breathalyzer to Get Arrested for DUI
It’s illegal to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol in the state of Kentucky. You’re automatically considered to be under the influence if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least .08 percent. This is known as “per se” intoxication. It doesn’t matter if you’re perfectly capable of driving safely. The fact that your BAC is above the legal limit is enough for you to get a DUI.
However, you can also face DUI charges even if your BAC is below the legal limit. In fact, officers don’t even have to administer a breathalyzer or conduct a blood test to make a DUI arrest. Under Kentucky law, police officers have the authority to arrest you for DUI if there is probable cause to believe that you’re intoxicated.
Probable cause can exist with a breathalyzer. Police officers can conclude that you’re not fit to drive based on other direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. This other evidence, when considered together, must simply give officers enough to reasonably believe that you’re drunk or impaired.
Evidence that might be used to support a DUI arrest in Louisville can include:
- The smell of alcohol on a driver’s breath
- Presence of alcohol bottle or containers in the vehicle
- Unusual or unsafe driving behaviors
- A driver’s inability or refusal to communicate, or
- Failed field sobriety tests,
Here, Bell admitted to taking two shots of Fireball and blacking out, drove into a house, reportedly smelled like alcohol, refused to take his sunglasses off, and failed a roadside field sobriety test. Officers made a DUI arrested based on all of these factors together. The totality of the circumstances suggested that Bell was intoxicated while driving.
Penalties for DUI Causing an Injury
Penalties for a DUI can be harsh. A first offense carries a sentence of at least two days in jail and the loss of your license for 30 days. Punishments for DUI are aggravated when someone is injured or killed. Here, a young girl was severely injured while sleeping soundly in her Louisville home.
Aggravated penalties for an injury-causing DUI include:
- Mandatory imprisonment for four days
- Jail sentence for the DUI is doubled, and
- No early release.
When a DUI driver injures or kills another person they can also be liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Criminal charges won’t necessarily impact a civil injury case. It’s possible that Bell could defeat the criminal charges and still be held liable for injuries sustained by the girl.
Defending DUI Charges in Louisville
Anyone arrested on suspicion of DUI in Lousiville has the right to defend themselves. It’s important to speak with an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney immediately because you have a very short period of time to act. You’ll lose your license if you don’t ask for an administrative appeal within 30 days of a DUI arrest.
Once you hire an attorney, they’ll determine which defense(s) may be best for your case. Possible defenses in a DUI case include:
- Unlawful arrest
- Illegal search and seizure
- Officers not trained properly
- Issues with the breathalyzer, blood test, or field sobriety test, and
- Broken chain of custody.
A strong defense is important. Undercutting the prosecution’s case and attacking the state’s evidence can make it tough to build a case against you. Without evidence or strong arguments, the state may have to drop the charges or consider a plea.