Mum Judge Smith returns to bench

A southwestern judicial circuit judge was on the bench Monday after being charged Saturday with Driving Under the Influence.

Chief Judge Rucker Smith was arrested for DUI Saturday afternoon, after being stopped for speeding in Leslie.

Police say Judge Smith refused to take a field sobriety test, so he was taken to jail and booked on speeding, open container, and driving under the influence refusal first offense charges.

Judge Rucker Smith also hears cases here in Lee County. Driving Under the Influence has a lot involved with it, first there are two types of DUI in Georgia Alcohol and Drug related offenses.

Judge Rucker Smith was pulled over Saturday, just after 5:00 on Federal Street in Leslie. Leslie Police say he was stopped for driving 63 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone.

That's also when they spotted and open container of alcohol the in vehicle. Police say he refused a sobriety test was arrested and charged with DUI refusal first offender. Dougherty County Police we spoke with today say that's the first step in the process.

"If you're impaired you'll be arrested, handcuffed, and sat in the back of a police car," said Dougherty County Police Officer Ted Wertz.

But when you're taken to jail, Sumter County in Rucker Smith's case, you're asked again to submit to a breathalizer, blood, or urine testing.

"In the case of alcohol nine times out of ten, to the jail when we'll again read implied consent and you'll be asked to submit to the state administered chemical test of your breath on an Intoxilizer 5000," said Wertz.

If you refuse the test, you're booked into jail, which Smith was. The Sumter County Jail confirms that Smith was never tested at the jail. While a first DUI offense is just a misdemeanor, three times in five years earns tougher penalties.

"At that point you can be declared a habitual offender, if you're a habitual violator caught behind the wheel, that's a felony."

If you refuse the state administered tests breathalizer, blood, or urine test, the state's implied consent laws says the state can suspend your license for a year, but you can appeal and there are other penalties if you're found guilty of the crime.

"I believe there is a mandatory 24 hour jail for a first offender DUI, the fine can be up to a $1,000, plus a DUI school, plus the hit on your insurance, plus the potential to lose your license."

Police say they've recently seen a rise in drug related DUI cases related to prescription medication.

Judge Smith faxed us a statement this afternoon saying he has been advised not to comment on his case.

In 2005, the judge was charged with battery and simple battery in a fight with his girlfriend. The following spring, a jury acquitted him of those charges.