Commonwealth Journal

Local News

October 31, 2013

Griffith arrest is questioned

Was action legal?

Somerset —

The attorney for a local police sergeant arrested for allegedly driving drunk has some questions about the legality of the charge.
“I’ve got questions about the jurisdiction here,” said Scott Foster, attorney for Sgt. Jason Griffith, with the Somerset Police Department.
Griffith, 41, of Somerset, was arrested at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday by Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Officer Lucas Tucker and charged with one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 
According to the arrest citation, Tucker allegedly saw Griffith “driving at a high rate of speed on (Ky.) 80 ... crossing all lanes, going into the grass and shoulder on both sides of the road.”
Tucker also wrote in the citation that he smelled “a strong odor of (an) alcoholic beverage” on Griffith. Griffith was also allegedly swaying while standing outside the Ford F-150 he was driving when he was pulled over. 
Griffith was not on duty when the arrest happened. 
Tucker also reported that Griffith refused field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test.
Captain Shannon Smith, with the Somerset Police Department, confirmed that SPD was called to assist on the scene, and two patrol officers and a lieutenant responded. Written as a witness on the arrest citation was SPD Lt. Mike Correll. 
The traffic stop and arrest took place at the intersection of East Ky. 80 and Ky. 914 in Somerset. 
Foster said state statute limits the legal jurisdiction of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers, pointing out that KRS 150.090 limits conservation officers’ powers to that of enforcement of laws and regulations directly related to fish and wildlife jurisdiction. 
But Foster said that section also states that a “life-threatening” situation — something he said is open to interpretation — may give a fish and wildlife officer the power to carry out something like a DUI arrest. And so Foster said he fully intends to bring those questions up in the case, which is set for a court date on Nov. 18. 

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