Navigating the legal system can be confusing and challenging, particularly if you find yourself facing charges that carry severe consequences, like driving under the influence (DUI). In Kentucky, DUI charges are taken very seriously. 

The laws are strict and clear about acceptable alcohol levels for drivers, so it’s essential to understand DUI laws in Kentucky as well as applicable legal defenses your attorney can raise on your behalf.

Per Se DUI

If you’re operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, you can be convicted of a DUI in Kentucky under their per se law even without signs of impairment.

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

While .08% BAC is the definitive limit, an operator in Kentucky can still be convicted for DUI with lower alcohol levels. This is based on demonstrating other evidence of impairment, such as failed field sobriety tests, erratic driving, slurred speech, or other behavior that indicates impairment.

Drivers Under 21

For drivers under 21, the permitted legal limit drops drastically to .02%. This reflects Kentucky’s zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking and driving. 

DUI Penalties in Kentucky

Being charged with a DUI in Kentucky comes with hefty penalties, even if it’s your first offense. If you’re convicted of a first-offense misdemeanor DUI, here’s what you face: 


Monetary fines that can range from $200 to $500. 

Jail Time

You can spend anywhere from 2 to 30 days behind bars. 

Mandatory Programs

The court may impose mandatory participation in alcohol or substance abuse programs for up to 90 days. 

License Suspension

Your license could be suspended for anywhere between 30 and 120 days.  

Community Service

Depending on the circumstances, you may also have to participate in community service ranging from a minimum of 48 hours up to a maximum of 30 days.

If aggravating factors are present, you face 4 days in jail instead of 2 by default. Aggravating factors intensify the severity of a DUI offense in Kentucky. These include:

  • Operating a vehicle more than 30 mph over the speed limit at the time of the incident
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Being involved in an accident causing death or serious injury
  • Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .15% or higher
  • Refusing to submit to chemical testing
  • Having someone under the age of 12 in the car at the time of arrest

Always speak with a lawyer when facing DUI charges – especially when aggravating factors are present – as even a misdemeanor conviction can carry serious penalties.

Building a defense against DUI charges in Kentucky is essential and can take several forms. Here are some commonly used strategies:

Not Under The Influence

If you were not impaired by any substances at the time of the arrest, this can be used in your defense. This could be substantiated through sobriety tests, witness testimonies, or other relevant evidence.

Not Driving

Your attorney can argue that while you might have been under the influence, you weren’t actually operating the vehicle when arrested. This could be done by showing that you were in the vehicle and someone else was driving or you were in the vehicle “sleeping it off.” 

Challenging Evidence Through Motion To Suppress

Any constitutional violations committed during the arrest process (like failure to read Miranda rights or lack of a proper search warrant or exception) can lead to challenging the admissibility of gathered evidence through a motion to suppress.

Insufficient Evidence

This defense can be raised if the prosecution’s evidence seems inadequate to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a vehicle under the influence. It may involve challenging results of field sobriety tests, questioning witnesses’ credibility, or highlighting a lack of concrete proof that you were under the influence.

Inaccurate Chemical Testing

Another frequent defense employed in DUI cases revolves around challenging accuracy, calibration, and operation of equipment used to perform chemical tests. These encompass breathalyzers or blood sample analysis that determines BAC levels. 

If you and your lawyer can demonstrate that these results aren’t reliable due to machine malfunction or an officer’s lack of proper training for administering tests correctly, it could significantly strengthen your defense.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

While Kentucky has firm laws in place to address DUI offenses, it’s essential to remember that every accused individual holds certain rights, including the right to defend yourself against criminal charges. 
The best way to do this is to work with a defense lawyer. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us today to speak with one of our experienced DUI defense attorneys.

Contact the Louisville DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

For more information, contact the DUI attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (502) 371-7000 or visit us at our Louisville law office.

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Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers
214 S Clay St A
Louisville, KY 40202

(502) 371-7000