Kentucky DUI Laws & Penalties

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. It’s a crime that continues to affect families nationwide daily, and state law enforcement takes their obligation to protect drivers very seriously. However, drunk driving laws and consequences can vary from one state to another. It’s important to understand Kentucky DUI laws and their consequences before you take a dangerous, and possibly deadly, risk.

DUI and BAC Facts

It’s essential to know how dangerous driving under the influence can be, and what the facts are surrounding impaired driving. First off, you’ve probably seen BAC or BRAC in DUI-related articles. The first, BAC, stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration or Blood Alcohol Content. Nationwide states hold drivers to a legal limit of .08% BAC, which means the amount of alcohol in your blood cannot exceed that percentage. If you’re tested and your BAC comes back .08% or higher, you could face charges for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol.

The second term, BRAC, stands for Breath Alcohol Concentration, and this is in reference to the amount of alcohol found in your breath. Most states allow officers in the field to conduct a breathalyzer test as part of a DUI stop. The breath is an easy and accurate way to measure the amount of alcohol in your system.

Kentucky DUI penalties apply to drivers who are convicted of driving with a BAC of .08% or higher. These drivers will face criminal charges. In addition, the state has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21 who are convicted of driving under the influence.

Implied Consent Law

Kentucky is an implied consent state. That means once you pass your drivers license test, you’re legally obligated to submit to a chemical BAC test anytime you get behind the wheel and are asked to by a law enforcement official. A chemical test includes a blood, urine, or breath test — or a combination — to determine the level of alcohol in your system. If you refuse to comply with an officer’s request for a chemical test, the consequence is a suspended license in Kentucky. The officer will confiscate your license on the spot, and your suspension period could last a minimum of 30 days.

Kentucky DUI Penalties

If you are convicted of a DUI in Kentucky, you will face a standard set of penalties. The list of consequences includes:

  • Jail time
  • Vehicle impound
  • Loss of drivers license
  • Criminal charges
  • Paying fines
  • Completing a screening assessment and possible placement in a drug or alcohol program

Each DUI offense will result in incrementally higher fines, more jail time, and more severe consequences. Here is a breakdown of what you’ll face from a first offense to a fourth:

First Offense

  • Fine: $200 – $500
  • Jail time: 2 – 30 days (4 more days if aggravating circumstances are involved)
  • Substance Abuse Program: 90 days
  • License suspension: 30 – 120 days
  • Community Service: Optional 48 hours (determined by court)

Second Offense

  • Fine: $350 – $500
  • Jail time: 7 days to 6 months (60 more days if aggravating circumstances are involved)
  • Substance Abuse Program: 1 year
  • License suspension: 12 – 18 months
  • Community Service: 10 days to 6 months

Third Offense

  • Fine: $500 – $1,500
  • Jail time: 30 days to 12 months (14 more days if aggravating circumstances are involved)
  • Substance Abuse Program: 1 year
  • License suspension: 24 – 36 months
  • Community Service: 10 days to 12 months

Fourth Offense

  • Class D Felony
  • Fine: $1,500+
  • Jail time: 120 days without probation (240 more days if aggravating circumstances)
  • Substance Abuse Program: 1 year
  • License suspension: 60 months
  • Community Service: 10 days to 12 months

According to Kentucky law, aggravating circumstances can be any of the following:

  • Excessive speed (30 MPH or more over the limit)
  • Driving with children 12 years of age or younger
  • An at-fault accident resulting in serious injury or death
  • Refusing a chemical test

These aggravating circumstances will definitely increase your penalties. For example, Kentucky law will not allow a driver that has a DUI conviction with aggravating circumstances to plead down their jail sentence to serve a shorter term. In addition, a DUI conviction will remain on your record for 5 years. 

If you receive a second DUI conviction, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device. Don’t forget, there could be serious personal consequences that you could face, including loss of employment, risk of future employment possibilities, and significantly higher insurance rates.

Stay Safe and Avoid Kentucky DUI Consequences

The best and safest way to avoid a DUI conviction is to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Our bodies metabolize alcohol at different rates, so it’s tough to define a standard BAC based on a per-drink basis. Things to consider when drinking include:

  • Your body weight
  • How much food you’ve eaten
  • The amount of alcohol you’ve consumed
  • The time between drinks

Getting behind the wheel after drinking is dangerous. The only thing that can actually sober you up after drinking is time to allow your body to process and eliminate the alcohol. Before you drive, you should consider the risks. Try designating a driver or calling a cab to avoid getting behind the wheel.