Kentucky DUI Laws

Kentucky DUI laws can make it difficult to find insurance after a DUI. Insurance following a DUI in KY is often expensive, but you can find affordable rates by comparing insurance quotes.

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UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 4, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Kentucky has strict laws regarding DUIs, especially for multiple offenders
  • The goal of DUI laws is to prevent impaired driving
  • Finding car insurance following a DUI conviction will be challenging and expensive
  • Like many states, finding cheap car insurance with a DUI in KY is a challenge

Being charged with a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, in the state of Kentucky is a very serious matter. Their legislature, like many other states’ in the past decade, has taken appropriate measures to stop the practice.

Breaking DUI laws will raise one’s state car insurance.

Don’t Test the Limit or Officers

Traditionally, the legal limit of blood alcohol content for a cited driver in Kentucky was 0.10. This level for conviction was lowered to 0.08 in the late 1990s.

Stricter levels were also established for younger drivers, as the focus is to stop the behavior earlier in the next generation of drivers.

Prosecuting attorneys do have the authority to prosecute for a BAC level lower than the 0.08 limit with due cause.

The blood alcohol content level necessary for a reckless driving conviction is currently 0.05. Just because an individual does not register a 0.08 content level at the time of field sobriety testing does not mean the investigation ends.

In Kentucky, the officer can detain the driver for two hours and administer the test at the police department again at the end of the detainment period.

Once arrested, the defendant is assessed an appropriate bond by the local judge. If the driver has a prior record, this can be used in determining bond level.

Any defendant found to be in contempt of court for failure to appear in a previous case will be held until the court date or a significant cash bond can be posted.

The field sobriety test result is not admissible in court but can affect the final judgment on drivers license suspension if refused.

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No Tolerance and No Requirement of Minimum Penalty Policy

The structure of Kentucky DUI laws is not restricted to one level of charge. The standard blood alcohol concentration level is 0.05 for reckless driving, 0.08 for the establishment of impaired driving, and 0.14 for the establishment of aggravating circumstances.

The same “aggravating circumstances” can be charged when a driver has a lower blood alcohol level and there are minor children in the vehicle or there are extenuating circumstances like a car chase.

Individuals suspected of being under the influence of drugs other than alcohol are regularly detained and transported to the local medical facilities for a blood evaluation.

Refusal to take a blood exam carries the same enhanced penalty as refusing a field sobriety or electronic breathalyzer exam, which is an extended automatic suspension of driver’s license privileges.

In addition, when the driver is charged with “eluding and evading” the arresting officer or if a wanton endangerment charge is added as a result of any chase, aggravation is an automatic charge and carries enhanced punishment.

Wanton endangerment in Kentucky is a Class D felony as an additional charge, which carries a penalty of one to five years in a state reformatory and suspended driving privileges.

Multiple Offenders Beware

What is the penalty for a DUI in Kentucky? Do you lose your license for your first DUI in Kentucky? Is the first DUI a felony? A first conviction for driving under the influence in Kentucky is not nearly as costly as repeat offenses. A first DUI usually brings:

  • A 30-day suspension of the defendant’s driving privileges
  • The requirement to provide proof of completing a 30-day driver’s training clinic
  • A minimum of a $500 fine
  • A license reinstatement fee

No incarceration time is mandatory, though the other penalties cannot be lowered by the judge.

The second charge is where the state takes notice, requiring an automatic minimum of seven days incarceration, along with an enhanced fine and a driver’s license suspension of one full calendar year.

A hardship license can only be issued when the suspension time is over and the driver has not completed the required driver education course, which is required following the second conviction.

The alcoholic driver education program for the second conviction is completed during the entire year of the suspended driving privilege.

Charges of aggravated circumstances carry a minimum of 14 days incarceration, along with an extended driver license privilege suspension.

The aggravation charge can be issued on the first driving under the influence conviction, as well as for multiple offenses.

A third DUI offense in Kentucky is similar to the second charge, but the driver license privilege suspension time is a minimum of two years. Judges have the latitude to alter judgments upwards depending on the circumstances.

A minimum incarceration sentence of 90 days is assessed with the third charge.

Anyone being charged with a fourth driving under the influence has their case automatically sent to the grand jury in the jurisdiction of the fourth arrest and assessed for a felony indictment.

The fourth DUI conviction in Kentucky in less than a five year period is a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in a state institution.

Auto Insurance Options Are Restrictive

Even a first DUI conviction creates a criminal record and the minimum court policies have been set by the state legislature.

The local judges are not bound to the state minimums. Perhaps the largest impact is the ability of the defendant to attain automobile insurance after a conviction.

Car insurance companies in Kentucky normally assess eligibility and premium rate by age and driving record during the preceding three years but factors such as claims against the driver or by the driver can affect average premium rates as well.

Many convicted drivers are purged from their existing insurance contracts and must re-apply in high-risk insurance pools or buy car insurance from lower-rated companies who specialize in insuring high-risk multiple offenders.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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