The act of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly outlawed in Kentucky. Drivers who are found guilty of this crime can face a variety of punishments like paying expensive fines and serving time in jail.
To avoid being arrested for and found guilty of DUI in Kentucky, motorists need to understand the legal blood alcohol content or BAC limits. They also should learn what the legal consequences are for this offense in Kentucky.
DUI in Kentucky
Kentucky uses the standard 0.08 percent blood alcohol content to define the legal limit for blood alcohol content in the state. Drivers cannot drive with a BAC higher than 0.08 if they want to avoid being arrested for and charged with DUI in Kentucky.
This standard only applies to drivers of privately owned motor vehicles who are 21 years of age and older. There is a different BAC level used for commercial drivers including those who drive school buses. The legal BAC limit for commercial drivers in Kentucky is 0.04 percent or lower.
Drivers under the age of 21 also are held to a lower BAC limit than adult drivers. Under the state’s zero-tolerance DUI laws, underage drivers must have BACs lower than 0.02 percent to avoid this charge.
Kentucky also allows for aggravated DUI charges if the offense meets certain criteria. The requirements for being charged with an aggravated DUI include:
- Refusing a chemical test for DUI with a prior DUI conviction within 10 years
- Causing serious injury or death to another person while driving under the influence
- Going the wrong way on a limited access highway
- Having a child under the age of 12 in the car while driving under the influence
- Going in excess of 30 miles per hour over the speed limit
- Having a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher
Aggravated DUIs in Kentucky are penalized with higher fines and longer jail terms.
DUI Penalties in Kentucky
Driving under the influence in Kentucky is addressed with a variety of civil and criminal penalties. The punishments reflect the offender’s prior DUI record and the damage inflicted during the infraction.
A first-time DUI offender in Kentucky can be sentenced to 48 hours to 30 days in jail. He or she can also pay a fine of $200 to $500 and have his or her drivers’ license revoked for 30 to 120 days. The offender also may have to use an ignition interlock device or IID for up to six months.
A second DUI conviction in Kentucky can result in a jail term of seven days to six months. The fine can range from $350 to $500. It also can include a license revocation of 12 to 18 months and use of an IID for 12 months.
A third DUI conviction leads to a fine ranging from $500 to $1000. The jail term can range from 30 days to 12 months. The license revocation period can last from 24 to 36 months, and the offender may have to use an IID for 30 months.
These legal penalties apply to standard DUI convictions. People convicted of aggravated DUI in Kentucky must serve double the jail terms for their offenses.
In addition to serving time in jail and paying fines, all DUI offenders in Kentucky must complete a substance abuse program. The first conviction requires completion of a 90-day treatment program while a second DUI conviction requires completion of a one-year program. Subsequent DUI convictions require offenders to complete a one-year residential or inpatient substance abuse program.
Judges in Kentucky have the option of substituting jail time for first-time offenders with community service. Community service can be added onto offenders’ sentences as well and must be completed after they are released from jail.
Underage DUI in Kentucky
Drivers under the age of 21 who are found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol do not face serving time in jail. Instead, they face having their drivers’ licenses suspended.
Their licenses can be suspended for 30 days to six months depending on the number of prior DUI convictions that they have on their records. They also commonly are ordered to complete a substance abuse program and pay a fine or perform anywhere from 20 to 50 hours of community service.
Kentucky Hardship Licensing and License Plate Revocation
When a DUI offender has his or her license revoked by the state, this person can ask the judge presiding over his or her case to issue a hardship drivers’ license. This license permits the offender to drive to and from specific locations like:
- An approved substance abuse treatment facility
The offender must be enrolled in a court-approved treatment program and also have an IID installed on his or her vehicle. If the person holds a restricted license for 12 months without any traffic or criminal infractions, the judge has the option of reducing the remainder of the person’s license revocation period.
However, offenders who have two or more DUIs on their records face having their license plates on their cars revoked. The judge can also order the license plate seized if the offender refuses a chemical test under Kentucky’s implied consent laws. The person can keep his or her license tag as long as he or she agrees to have an IID installed on his or her vehicle.
Kentucky strictly forbids drivers of all ages from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To discourage drivers from engaging in this behavior, the state uses a myriad of legal and civil penalties to punish DUI offenders.
People found guilty of this crime can pay monetary fines and serve time in jail. They also could be ordered to surrender their drivers’ licenses and have their license tags seized on their vehicles.