LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Dozens of DUI cases in Jefferson County could be compromised after a Metro Corrections officer appeared to say on camera he did not smell alcohol on a suspect, but wrote on the suspect's paperwork he smelled alcohol on his breath.
In fact, two DUI cases have already been affected.
Two suspected drunk drivers had their charges amended down. Their attorneys say rightly so and the video provides a clear explanation.
When Metro Corrections breathalyzer tech Brett Rehm met Jorge Cejay in February 2014, there was a bit of a language barrier.
Cejay had been pulled over at 3 a.m. after his car was spotted swerving in the rain on Eastern Parkway. He told the police officer he was going on several days without sleep and he asked to speak to a lawyer.
On the video only Cejay sitting in the room with the breathalyzer machine can be seen, but the conversation between Rehm and possibly the arresting officer can be heard. It's hard to determine which one is speaking, and when, but both seem to indicate a lack of sleep may be Cejay's problem, not alcohol.
The conversation between the two is as follows:
"If I write this report, then I don't have much, as far as the observation goes either, 'cause I didn't smell any alcohol. His eyes were bloodshot, but he's been up for two days working, he's going to be tired."
Cejay wanted to talk to his attorney first and refused the breathalyzer, so the tech hit the "Refused" button on the machine. Despite either saying or agreeing that he didn't smell any alcohol, Rehm wrote on the report that the subject, "had odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath."
"That's clearly not the complete truth," said Defense Attorney Danny Alvarez.
Alvarez and other defense attorneys are now questioning if something similar had happened to their clients. He used the video of Cejay to have charges amended down for a client accused of driving under the influence. He claimed in her case, she just wanted more information from Rehm.
"As a result of questioning and asking for help," Alvarez said, "She was deemed a refusal (breathalyzer) and was treated very poorly by officer Rehm."
The Jefferson County Attorney's office amended down those two cases. A spokesperson said it is concerning as they are now are looking at dozens more DUI cases, but they are waiting for Metro Corrections to investigate.
Metro Corrections confirmed to WAVE 3 News an internal review of the situation is being conducted.
"It needs to be brought to the attention of the public," Alvarez said, "because this is a public integrity issue."
Cejay's attorney Jeff McClain said this issue goes to the heart of integrity in the legal system.
He said if Rehm did it on purpose, it's a gross miscarriage of justice. However, he does not know if it was intentional or if it was just a mistake Rehm made on the paperwork.