Kentucky DUI Laws and Penalties

How “driving under the influence” is defined and the penalties for a DUI conviction in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s DUI laws prohibit a motorist from operating or being in physical control of a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater
  • while under the influence of alcohol, any controlled substance, or combination thereof which impairs motorist’s driving ability, or
  • with any amount of a listed controlled substance (like cocaine and methamphetamine) in the driver’s system.

In other words, a driver can be convicted of a DUI based on impairment or the amount of alcohol or drugs in his or her system.

Kentucky DUI Penalties

When a person is convicted of a DUI, the judge decides the appropriate penalties but is required to stay within certain guidelines. These guidelines are set by law and depend on the number of prior DUI offenses the driver has within the past ten years (out-of-state DUI convictions also count.)

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

48 hours to 30 days

7 days to 6 months

30 days to 12 months

Fines

$200 to $500

$350 to $500

$500 to $1,000

Aggravated DUI. If the driver had a BAC of .15% or greater, had a passenger under 12 years old, caused an injury accident, refused testing, or was excessively speeding, the judge will double the normal minimum jail time.

Treatment. All persons convicted of driving under the influence will be required to complete substance abuse treatment. This may require 90 days of meetings to one year of inpatient treatment, depending on the circumstances.

Driver’s License Sanctions

For a first, second, or third-offense DUI conviction, the court will order the driver’s license be revoked, followed by a period with an ignition interlock device (IID):

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

License Revocation

30 to 120 days

12 to 18 months

24 to 36 months

IID

6 months

12 months

30 months

Hardship license. The judge can issue a temporary restricted license for use during the revocation period. This license may only be used for travel related to work, school, or treatment purposes and requires the use of an IID and enrollment in substance abuse treatment.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Chemical or Breath Test in Kentucky

Kentucky’s “implied consent” law requires all drivers to submit to a breath or blood test if lawfully requested to do so by an officer. Such a request is lawful if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe a DUI occurred.

If a driver refuses testing, the DUI jail penalties are increased. Additionally, if the driver refused testing and the DUI charge was dismissed, the court will still revoke the driver’s license as though he or she was convicted of the DUI.

Underage DUI

Drivers who are under the age of 21 can be convicted of an underage DUI with a BAC of only .02%. However, this lower BAC conviction will not result in jail time. Instead, the driver’s license will be revoked for 30 days to 6 months and the driver must complete a substance abuse program. The judge will also order either 20 hours community service or a $100 to $500 fine.

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