Kentucky State Senator: 1891 Rule Voids My DUI Bust
Brandon Smith says he's 'privileged from arrest' during travel to legislature
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2015 8:19 AM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2015 8:03 AM CST
Smith's lawyer argues that he's immune from arrest when going to the legislature and back.   (Kentucky Legislature)

(Newser) – A Kentucky state senator accused of driving drunk on the legislature's opening day this month has invoked a law brought in by predecessors who traveled in horse-drawn carriages. Brandon Smith's lawyer filed a request this week to dismiss his DUI charge based on an 1891 provision in the state constitution saying that, barring felonies, treason, or "breach or surety of the peace," assembly members are "privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same," WKYT reports. State police say the Republican was speeding and smelled of booze during a Jan. 6 traffic stop.

"It's an interesting argument," a Franklin County attorney tells the Frankfort State-Journal, though he says his impression is that the constitution "did not intend to give legislators blanket immunity for any act committed during the legislative session." Smith, who was the GOP whip until last month, initially told police he hadn't been drinking but admitted having a drink after he failed several portions of a field sobriety test, according to the police report cited by the Richmond Register. Smith has voted against a bill that would have expanded alcohol sales in the state, according to VoteSmart.org. (At least he wasn't arrested for two drunk-driving incidents in one night.)