Kentucky DUI Laws

If you’re convicted of driving under the influence in Kentucky, know that Kentucky DUI laws are not lenient. Drivers face a 120-day license suspension for a first offense, and fines can exceed $1,000. Kentucky DUI laws require drivers to forfeit their license plates during the license suspension period, and your insurance rates will increase once you’re legally able to drive your vehicle again. Enter your ZIP code below to shop for cheap DUI auto insurance.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 29, 2020

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Over the last decade, alcohol-related crash fatalities have seen a reduction in Kentucky, but still account for almost 30 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Out of all alcohol-related fatalities, almost one third are due to drivers with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08 percent. Drinking and driving is never safe, and drivers will receive serious consequences if they choose to get on the road after consuming alcohol.

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Basic DUI Laws for the State of Kentucky

Kentucky’s DUI laws prohibit drivers from operating a motor vehicle with a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04 percent. Kentucky also enforces the implied consent law, meaning drivers agree to submit to chemical testing of breath, blood or urine for the presence of alcohol. Any driver refusing these tests may be subject to penalties, even if not convicted of a DUI.

Kentucky also enforces a zero-tolerance law, meaning the legal blood alcohol limit for minors is .02 percent. Drivers under age 21 may not have any discernible alcohol in their system while driving, though, or they will risk a DUI conviction.

Penalties Associated with Driving under the Influence in Kentucky

Drivers refusing to take blood, breath or urine tests for alcohol levels will be subject to a license suspension. For a first offender, the license suspension is from 30 to 120 days. If a driver refuses testing a second time, he loses his license for a minimum of one year. The license suspension period continues to get longer, and after four or more refusals, a driver will lose his license for five years.

DUI fines range from $200 for a first offender, to $1,000 for a third offense within five years. Jail time is 2 to 30 days for a first offender and from 4 to 8 months with no probation for a fourth offense. License suspension is a minimum of 30 days for a first offender, and increases 1 to 1 1/2 years for each additional offense. A fourth offense will receive a five-year license suspension. First offenders must also attend three months worth of alcohol or substance abuse treatment. For second and subsequent offenders, a one-year minimum of treatment is required. Community labor must be performed for up to 30 days in a first offense and up to one year for a third offender. Fourth and subsequent offenses within five years are a class D felony.

Once a driver is convicted of his second DUI or a subsequent one, he must forfeit his vehicle’s license plates during his driver’s license suspension period. The court may also order him to install an ignition interlock device in order to regain the use of his license.

Underage drivers convicted of a first offense DUI must pay a $100-$500 fine, or participate in 20 hours of community service. They will also be subject to one-to-six months of license suspension. If an underage driver has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher, he will be treated as an adult and subjected to the standard DUI penalties.

In Kentucky, if a driver is convicted of both a DUI with certain aggravating circumstances, DUI laws establish a minimum time in jail. This jail time cannot be suspended, probated, discharged conditionally or subject to any type of early release. The following aggravating circumstances result in higher minimum required jail time.

  • Driving 30 miles or more per hour over the speed limit
  • Driving the wrong direction on a limited-access highway
  • Causing an accident that results in serious physical injuries or death
  • Having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or higher within two hours of driving a car
  • Refusing to submit to chemical or other testing
  • Transporting any passengers under the age of 12, while driving under the influence

SR-22 Requirements in the State of Kentucky

Kentucky is one of the few states that do not require SR-22 insurance. If a driver is required to carry SR-22 insurance due to a DUI conviction in another state, the law from his previous state of residence will follow him. This means he must still comply with penalties from the DUI conviction in his previous state of residence. Additionally, the driver must carry liability insurance that meets the minimum requirements of each of the states, the former one and the current one. If a driver discontinues SR-22 insurance for any reason, his license will be immediately suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state that issued the DUI conviction.

Effects of a DUI on the Cost of Car Insurance

Receiving a DUI conviction in the state of Kentucky will cause a driver’s insurance rates to increase substantially. Although Kentucky does not require SR-22 insurance, the state still has minimum requirements for liability insurance that must be maintained. Additionally, the cost of insurance is based on several factors, including a driver’s age, driving history and vehicle type. Even if a driver does not receive any penalty points on his driving record for a DUI specifically, he may receive points for reckless driving or other activities witnessed by the arresting officer. Additionally, once a driver has a DUI on his record he is considered a high-risk driver, and will pay increased rates for insurance until the DUI is removed from his record. The state of Kentucky keeps a DUI on a person’s driving history for 5 years.

Kentucky Car Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers

Even though Kentucky does not require SR-22 insurance, drivers convicted of a DUI will still receive points on their driving record. There is a good chance that insurance will be much more expensive, since insurance companies categorize drivers with a DUI as high-risk drivers, and will increase premiums for insurance accordingly. Hiring an experienced attorney to assist you after a DUI arrest can help keep penalties down and possibly reduce the conviction to something smaller, with fewer points on your record.

A few ways to lower the cost of SR-22 insurance are to drive a car that is a sedan model, and about 10 years old, possibly older. Comprehensive and collision insurance will not be cost effective for an older car, so the driver can carry the minimum liability insurance required by the state. Additionally, combining all insurance policies such as homeowners or renters insurance with an automobile policy can result in a nice discount overall. Certain insurance companies specialize in finding and providing insurance for high-risk drivers at an affordable price. Progressive Insurance and The General Automobile Insurance are two such companies but there many car insurance companies who offer high risk car insurance in Kentucky. Start your search for car insurance and enter your ZIP code above to find a list of local Kentucky car insurance companies.

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