HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The wife of Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce says in a court petition over her recent arrest for driving under the influence that she was unlawfully stopped and never refused to take a breath test.
Sarah Bruce, of Nickerson, was arrested Dec. 11, 2013, in Hutchison on suspicion of DUI. She faces charges including refusing the request of law enforcement to submit to a preliminary screening test of her breath, driving in a manner that interfered with other traffic and operating a vehicle while the alcohol concentration in her breath was .159. The legal limit in Kansas is under .08, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/1g0lchX).
The arrest report said she was “drunk,” and law enforcement claimed she refused to submit to a complete test.
Kansas toughened penalties in 2012 for refusal to take a DUI test and for a blood-alcohol concentration above .15. Her husband, Sen. Bruce, R-Nickerson, voted for the measure, which says refusal to take the DUI can lead to a one-year suspension of a person’s driving privileges. After the suspension that person is then restricted to driving only a vehicle with an ignition interlock device for a specific amount of time.
In a Feb. 14 hearing, Lisa Kelly, a hearing officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Division of Vehicles, affirmed the administrative action of suspending and restricting Sarah Bruce’s driving privileges and found Hutchinson law enforcement acted reasonably.
Sarah Bruce then filed a petition in Reno County court seeking judicial review of the suspension of her license and restricted driving privileges. Bruce claims among other things that there were insufficient grounds for the arresting officer to seek a breath alcohol test, that the officer unlawfully stopped her before asking her to take the breath test and that the officer incorrectly told her refusal to take the test resulted in a 12-month suspension of her driver’s license.
Bruce also claims she never refused to take the breath test, but tried to blow into the machine. She said she gave a “deficient sample” because of a physical disability caused by a medical condition that was unrelated to alcohol or drugs, according to the petition.
Bruce’s petition also includes a letter from her doctor, who said during the arrest Bruce apparently had symptoms “consistent with an acute anxiety attack,” which could have made her short of breath and unable to blow fully into the machine.
The prosecutor in the case didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com