Kentucky's DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in Kentucky.

In Kentucky, the penalties you'll face for a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction depend mainly on how many prior convictions you have. This article covers the basics of Kentucky's DUI laws and the consequences of a first, second, and third DUI conviction

Kentucky's DUI Laws

Kentucky prohibits a person from driving or being in physical control of a vehicle::

A violation with a BAC of .08% or more is considered a "per se DUI," which can result in a conviction regardless of the person's level of impairment so long as the BAC measurement is taken within two hours of when the motorist was driving. The amount of alcohol needed to reach these BAC levels can differ depending on the person's gender and body size and the type of alcohol.

Kentucky's DUI Penalties

When a person is convicted of a DUI, the judge will generally decide the jail time, fine amount, and license revocation duration, but is limited by certain parameters.

How Long a DUI Stays on Your Record in Kentucky

Generally, DUI convictions stay on your record and count as prior convictions for ten years. Prior DUI offenses that occurred in Kentucky, as well as other states, are counted.

Jail and Fines for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Kentucky DUI

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

DUI Aggravating Circumstances in Kentucky

DUI convictions that included certain factors—excessive speeding, passengers under 12 years old, an alcohol test refusal, a BAC of .15% or greater, or an injury accident—must serve double the minimum jail time. For example, a driver with a BAC of .18% must serve at least four days in jail for a first offense.

Kentucky's Treatment Requirements for DUI Offenders

All DUI offenders must complete a substance abuse program. A first-offense DUI requires at least 90 days of treatment and a second DUI requires one year of treatment. Subsequent offenses will require at least a year of residential or inpatient substance abuse treatment.

Community Service for Kentucky DUI Convictions

Judges are also permitted to order the offender to perform community service in addition to the other penalties. And for a first-offense OWI, the judge is permitted to order 30 days of community service instead of jail time.

Driver's License Penalties for Kentucky DUI Arrests and Convictions

Generally, a DUI offense also leads to driver's license suspension—sometimes, before the trial or even in the absence of a DUI conviction.

Pretrial DUI Suspensions in Kentucky

At the initial arraignment hearing, the judge can seize and suspend the driver's license if the driver:

  • has a prior DUI offense in the last ten years
  • refused a lawful request for chemical testing by the arresting officer, or
  • caused bodily injury to another person.

The driver's license will remain suspended until the DUI charges are resolved. The court will also generally order the driver to enroll in the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program (KIIP).

Suspensions Result from a Kentucky DUI Conviction

All DUI convictions are reported to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC). The KTC will send a notice of suspension to the convicted driver, setting out the suspension period and requirements. The driver's license will be suspended for:

  • six months for a first offense
  • 18 months for a second offense
  • 36 months for a third offense, and
  • 60 months for a fourth offense.

Any suspension served due to the pretrial suspension order will be credited towards a conviction suspension.

Getting a Hardship License in Kentucky

Drivers who are suspended due to a test refusal, DUI conviction, or pretrial suspension can apply to the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program for limited driving privileges. Participants must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) and are allowed to operate a vehicle as long as it has an installed IID.

The KIIP can also reduce the driver's suspension period. Drivers who comply with the program requirements and avoid violations can have a first-offense suspension reduced to four months, a second-offense suspension reduced to 12 months, and a third-offense suspension reducted to 18 months.

License Plate Revocation for Kentucky DUI Convictions

The court is permitted to seize and confiscate the license plates belonging to any driver suspended due to a DUI incident. This surrender can be avoided with the installation of an IID and under other limited circumstances.

Kentucky's Implied Consent Law

A driver can also be subject to driver's license revocation if he or she refuses a breath test. This penalty is part of Kentucky's implied consent law and can be imposed even if the DUI is dismissed.

Kentucky's Underage DUI Laws

While everyone can be convicted of a DUI for driving with a BAC of .08% or more, drivers under 21 years of age can be convicted of an underage DUI for driving with a BAC of .02% or greater.

A conviction does not carry jail time but does result in a 30-day to six-month driver's license revocation, a substance abuse program requirement, and either a fine of up to $500 or 20 hours of community service.

Talk to a Kentucky DUI Lawyer

If you're arrested for driving under the influence in Kentucky, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced DUI attorney. A qualified DUI lawyer can help you decide on the best course of action in your case.

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