DUI Laws in Kentucky

Laws and penalties for DUI in Kentucky.

In Kentucky, you can get a DUI (driving under the influence) if you drive or are in physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher or have any amount of drugs in your system, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. However, you can also get a DUI if you drive or are in physical control of a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two. You’re considered “under the influence” if your ability to drive is impaired.

And the law in Kentucky says that if you're driving a vehicle, you've given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here are some details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Kentucky and other details about Kentucky DUI law.

In Kentucky, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of DUI?

Here are the consequences for not taking a breathalyzer or blood test in Kentucky, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

30 to 120 day license suspension. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

12 to 18 month license suspension. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

2 to 3 year license suspension. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

 

In Kentucky, when do police have to measure your BAC?

In Kentucky, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC within two hours of driving. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for a DUI based on impairment even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the maximum BAC for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors under some drinking and driving laws) is .02%.

What are the minimum jail times for a DUI in Kentucky?

Here are the minimum jail times for a DUI in Kentucky, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

2 days jail 

7 days jail

30 days jail

 

All of the above minimum jail times are doubled if your DUI involves one or more "aggravating circumstances." These circumstances include:

  • driving more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • driving in the wrong direction down the highway
  • causing an accident where someone is seriously injured or killed
  • having a BAC of .15% or more
  • refusing a chemical test, and
  • having a passenger in your car that is under 12 years old.

How long will prior DUI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, prior DUI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another DUI/DWI offense) for five years. The five years is measured from the date that your prior DUI occurred rather than your conviction date.

Can a DUI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in Kentucky?

Kentucky law generally prohibits prosecutors from reducing a DUI to a lesser charge when the driver either refused chemical testing or had a BAC of .08% or more (.02% or more for drivers under age 21). So, generally, a DUI can't be pleaded down to a wet reckless or any other lesser charge.

If you are interested in contacting a lawyer, you can find a DUI lawyer in your area in Nolo's Lawyer Directory.

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted DUI offenders in Kentucky?

For a first DUI, IIDs are required only if your offense involves any of the aggravating circumstances listed above. However, if you have at least one prior DUI within the last five years (see above), you’ll be required to install an IID once you’re license suspension has ended. With one prior DUI, you’ll need to have an IID for 12 months. And if you have two or more DUI priors, an IID is mandatory for 30 months.

Where can I get more information about DUI laws in Kentucky?

Nolo's DUI/DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a DUI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of Kentucky DUI attorneys in your area.

Last updated on 3/4/2016.

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