Getting behind the wheel of an automobile after having any amount of alcohol is never safe — or smart. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs is a leading cause of serious and fatal accidents. In addition, if you drive drunk, you may be charged with the crime of DUI.
In Kentucky, if you are convicted on DUI charges, you may face a range of penalties, including a 30-day license suspension to prison time (depending on the facts of the case). DUI allegations are not limited to drinking and driving, but may also arise if you drive under the influence of controlled substances.
If you have been charged with DUI, you will need a top-notch DUI defense lawyer to represent you. At Baldani Law, our team of experienced Lexington DUI defense attorneys will aggressively defend you to protect your legal rights and freedom.
Understanding Kentucky’s DUI Laws
In Kentucky, it is against the law to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a certain limit or while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. For a person aged 21 or older, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.08; a reading of 0.08 or higher will result in DUI charges. For individuals under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.02 or higher may be charged with a DUI. A chemical test of a driver’s blood, breath, or urine must be taken within 2 hours after they stop operating a vehicle.
Importantly, having a BAC above the legal limit is not the only grounds for a DUI charge in Kentucky. If you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to the extent that your ability to drive in a cautious manner is impaired, then you may be charged with DUI. In other words, even if you are under the legal limit, if a police officer observes you driving erratically and there are drugs or alcohol in your system, you could still be charged with a DUI.
For purposes of this law, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of a controlled substance. This includes:
- Any Schedule I controlled substance except marijuana;
- Propoxyphene; and
The presence of these drugs is measured through a chemical test.
DUIs carry serious consequences, which is why it is vital to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you if you are facing a DUI case. In addition to possible jail time, you may lose your driver’s license, be required to do community service, and be ordered to pay steep fines and fees. The exact penalty for a DUI conviction will depend on the facts of the case and whether an individual has prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years. This time period starts once a conviction is entered on a previous DUI charge.
For a first-time DUI conviction within a 10 year period, you may be sentenced to between 48 hours and 30 days in county jail, and be required to pay a fine of between $200 and $500. If aggravating circumstances are present, then a judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 days in jail. A person who has been convicted of a DUI may ask the judge to impose community labor in lieu of jail time and/or a fine.
The penalties for a DUI increase significantly with each subsequent conviction within the past 10 years. For a second offense, the fine increases to $350 to $500, and the range of potential jail time increases to 7 days to 6 months, with a minimum of 14 days for aggravating circumstances. In addition, a judge may order community labor on top of a fine and imprisonment, for anywhere from 10 days to 6 months. Consequences for third or greater offenses include:
- Third offense: a fine of between $500 and $1000 and a jail term of 30 days to 12 months. The judge may also sentence an individual to between 10 days and 12 months of community labor. The minimum jail term is 60 days if aggravating circumstances are present.
- Fourth or subsequent offense: charged as a Class D felony, a minimum fine of $1,500 and a minimum jail time of 120 days, or 240 days if aggravating circumstances are present.
There are potential defenses to a DUI. For example, the officer who pulled you over may not have had probable cause to make the stop, or you may have a medical issue that affects a BAC reading. You may even have had a false positive breath test because you burped directly before taking the test. Each case is unique, and a DUI defense will be built on the facts of your specific case.
A DUI is a criminal charge, with potentially serious penalties. If you are convicted of a DUI, it will appear on your criminal record and may make it difficult for you to obtain employment or even housing. If you have been charged with DUI, you should consult with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
What Are Aggravating Circumstances?
If you are charged with a DUI in Kentucky, you may face enhanced penalties if a prosecutor can prove that aggravating circumstances were involved. In essence, aggravating circumstances include anything that made the crime worse, or more dangerous. Under Kentucky law, aggravating circumstances include:
- Speeding more than thirty (30) miles per hour above the speed limit;
- Driving the wrong way on a limited access highway;
- Causing an accident resulting in death or serious physical injury while driving under the influence;
- Having a particularly high BAC of 0.15 or higher;
- Refusing to submit to a chemical blood, breath or urine test as required by law; and
- Driving under the influence with a passenger under the age of twelve (12) years old.
Importantly, if you drive in Kentucky, then you have impliedly consented to a blood, breath or urine test if you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. This implied consent law means that if you are driving under the influence, refusing to submit to a chemical test will result in aggravating circumstances being applied to your case.
While you are required to submit to a post-arrest chemical test, with some exceptions, you do not have to consent to a pre-arrest alcohol screening (roadside breathalyzer test). While an arresting officer may make a request to submit to a roadside breath test seem like a demand, you can refuse to take this test — and any other field sobriety tests. However, if the law enforcement officer arrests you based on probable cause, then you will be required to take a chemical test at the police station or other facility.
DUI License Suspensions
In addition to criminal penalties, any Kentucky DUI conviction will result in a driver’s license suspension that ranges from 30 days to 60 months (5 years). The exact length of the suspension depends on the facts of the drunk driving charge, as follows:
- First offense: 30 to 120 days;
- Second offense: 12 to 18 months;
- Third offense: 24 to 26 months; and
- Fourth or greater offense: 60 months.
Anyone who is convicted of a DUI and loses their license as a result cannot have their driving privileges reinstated until they complete mandatory drug or alcohol education courses or a treatment program as required by law.
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a special tool that prevents a motor vehicle from starting unless and until a driver submits a “clean” breath sample. IIDs work by connecting the vehicle or motorcycle’s ignition system to a breathalyzer. In order to start a vehicle, the driver will have to provide a breath sample that has 0.02 BAC or lower. While the vehicle is being operated, the driver will be required to provide additional breath samples at random intervals.
IIDs can be helpful for people convicted of drunk driving, as it makes it possible to still attend work and/or school after a court-ordered license suspension. The device makes sure that the driver doesn’t get behind the wheel of a car after drinking — which also prevents further legal issues related to driving under the influence.
If the court determines you are eligible for an IID, it will issue an “ignition interlock license,” which is a motor vehicle/motorcycle operator’s license issued by the Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles. With this license, a person is allowed to drive only motor vehicles/motorcycles equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device (with limited exceptions). If you have been charged with a DUI, consult with your DUI defense lawyer about the possibility of having an IID installed.
What Happens If You Drive with a Suspended License After a DUI?
After your driver’s license is suspended following a DUI conviction, you will face criminal charges if you choose to drive on a suspended license. The penalty is based on whether you have had previous convictions for driving on a suspended license within the past 10 years:
- First offense: class B misdemeanor, license revocation for 6 months. If the person was driving under the influence at the time, then their license will be revoked for 1 year.
- Second offense: class A misdemeanor, license revocation for 1 year. If the person was driving under the influence at the time, then their license will be revoked for 2 years.
- Third or greater offense: class D felony, license revocation for 2 years. If the person was driving under the influence at the time, then their license will be revoked for 5 years.
In addition, the court may order jail time for a person convicted of driving with a suspended license after a DUI conviction. A judge may permit the installation of an IID after the jail term is completed if the person is eligible for a limited license under Kentucky law.
Arrested for a DUI? Contact Us Today.
A DUI arrest can lead to serious consequences — both in terms of jail time and financial penalties and collateral consequences like losing your license. A conviction will also appear on your criminal record. For these reasons, it is vital to work with a law firm that has experience handling DUI offenses.
There are a number of potential defenses to DUI charges. This may include challenging the results of a breath test or even the legality of the stop itself. At Baldani Law, we will use our knowledge of the law as well as our connections with top experts to defend you against DUI charges.
If you have been charged with a DUI, we can help. We will put together the best defense possible based on the facts of your case. Contact our law office today at 859-259-0727, or email us at any time to schedule a consultation with a Lexington DUI lawyer.