Local district judge participates in DUI sessions at judicial college

News release

District Court Judge Jeff L. Dotson, who serves Boyle and Mercer counties, joined colleagues from across the commonwealth at their annual college June 6-9 in Lexington.

It was the first time the district judges gathered in person since 2019 as the college for 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.

“It was refreshing to be able to meet in person once again,” said Christian County District Court Judge J. Foster Cotthoff, who is president of the Kentucky District Judges Association. “Our colleges not only provide valuable educational programs, but they also give us the opportunity to spend time with people who share the challenges and rewards of serving as a judge. We all enjoyed this renewed camaraderie.”

The 2021 college focused on giving district judges greater insight on how to handle drunk and drugged driving cases.

“Because district judges see a lot of DUI cases, it was helpful for us to look closely at issues surrounding these cases, including the skills that law enforcement officers use to detect drivers who are under the influence,” Judge Cotthoff said. “This was a great refresher course for experienced judges and an important introduction for newer judges.”

DUI sessions at the college were on testimony from expert witnesses in impaired driving cases and how the effects of drugs and alcohol impair a person’s ability to drive.

Another session covered Kentucky Senate Bill 85, legislation signed into law in 2020 that requires first-time DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device or face a longer license suspension. The law is intended to prevent offenders from ignoring their license suspension by driving anyway. Previously, the device was mandatory for repeat DUI offenders and those with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more.

Judges also attended a session about using the ALIVE at 25 defensive driving course as a court-ordered diversion program for drivers 16-24 years old who have been charged with a traffic offense.

Judges had the opportunity to earn continuing judicial education credits by attending the college.

District Court

District Court judges handle juvenile matters, city and county ordinances, misdemeanors, violations, traffic offenses, probate of wills, arraignments, felony probable cause hearings, small claims involving $2,500 or less, civil cases involving $5,000 or less, voluntary and involuntary mental commitments and cases relating to domestic violence and abuse.

Administrative Office of the Courts

The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.