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What Are the Kentucky DUI Laws?

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Driving under the influence (DUI), or "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), is a serious criminal offense. Under Kentucky's DUI laws it is illegal to operate, or be in physical control of, a motor vehicle in any of the following circumstances:

  • With an alcohol concentration (BAC) or 0.08% or more
  • While under the influence of alcohol
  • While under the influence of any other substance (or combination of substances) which impair the ability to drive
  • While a controlled substance (applicable substances are listed in Kentucky's Revised Statutes section 189A.010(12)) is in the driver's blood
  • While under the combined influence of alcohol and any other substance which impairs the ability to drive, or
  • If the driver is under age 21, an alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or more

Penalties for Driving While Under the Influence

Offenders who are 21 years old or older:

  • First offense (within 10 years): Punishable by a fine of between $200 and $500, and/or imprisonment for between 48 hours and 30 days. The offender may be able to enter a community labor program in lieu of the fine and/or imprisonment. If aggravating circumstances* are present, then the offender must serve at least four days in jail.
  • Second offense (within 10 years): Punishable by a fine of between $350 and $500, imprisonment for between seven days and six months, and may be sentenced to community labor for between ten days and six months. If aggravating circumstances* are present, then the offender must serve at least 14 days in jail.
  • Third offense (within 10 years): Punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1,000, imprisonment for between 30 days and 12 months, and community labor for between ten days and 12 months. If aggravating circumstances* are present, then the offender must serve at least 60 days in jail.
  • Fourth or subsequent offense (within 10 years): Guilty of a Class D felony that is punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $10,00 and/or imprisonment for between one and five years. If aggravating circumstances* are present, then the offender must serve at least 240 days in jail.

Offenders who are under 21 years old: The driver's license will be suspended for between 30 days and six months, and fined between $100 and $500 (or 20 hours of community service in lieu of a fine). However, if the offender has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater, then he or she will be subjected to the same penalties as an offender who is 21 years old or older.

*Aggravating DUI circumstances in Kentucky include any of the following:

  • Driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit
  • Driving in the wrong direction
  • Causing an accident that results in death or serious injury
  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or more
  • Refusing to submit to tests requested by a police officer, or
  • Driving with a passenger who is less than 12 years old in the vehicle

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Kentucky's DUI laws contact a local DUI attorney.

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