December 22, 2023 | DUI
Most of the drunk driving charges in Kentucky are misdemeanors. However, you could be charged with felony DUI in some situations. The penalties for a felony DUI are much harsher than the penalties for a misdemeanor DUI conviction.
When Does Driving Under the Influence Become a Felony in Louisville, KY?
Your prior DUI history determines the charges for another drunk driving arrest. A first-time DUI and a second-time DUI are charged as Class B misdemeanors. A third DUI offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
A fourth DUI offense and subsequent DUI charges within ten years is a Class D felony under Kentucky DUI laws. The penalties you face depend on the prior DUI offenses on your record. It also depends on whether aggravating factors are present in your current DUI case.
What Are the Penalties for Felony DUI in Louisville, KY?
A Class D felony DUI conviction in Louisville can result in several penalties including, but not limited to:
- A minimum of 120 days in jail
- Up to five years in prison
- Driver’s license suspension for five years
- Enrollment in an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program for one year
- A fine between $1,000 and $10,000
The mandatory jail term doubles if one or more aggravating factors are present. Aggravating factors enhance the severity of a DUI in Louisville.
What Are the Aggravating Factors for a DUI Charge in Louisville, KY?
Kentucky Revised Statute §189A.010(11) lists the aggravating factors for a DUI charge. Those factors are:
- Driving the wrong way on a limited-access highway
- A passenger in the vehicle under 12 years of age
- Traveling more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit
- A blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher within two hours of operating a motor vehicle
- A drunk driver causes a car accident that results in serious physical injury or death
- The driver refuses to submit to BAC testing
Any one of the above aggravating factors can substantially enhance a DUI sentence. It is important to hire an experienced Louisville DUI attorney. Your attorney can present mitigating circumstances at the hearing to counter the impact of aggravating circumstances.
What Does the State Need To Prove for a Felony DUI Conviction?
When you are arrested for DUI, the prosecution must prove all of the legal elements of a felony DUI for a conviction. The elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt are:
- You had physical control or operated a motor vehicle;
- With a BAC of .08 or above; or with a controlled substance in your system; or, while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs that impaired your driving ability; AND,
- You have three prior DUI convictions on your record within the past ten years.
Keep in mind these are the elements for felony DUI, specifically. However, you can face other felony charges because of drunk driving, even if you haven’t been charged with DUI before. For example, if someone is seriously injured or killed in a crash while you are under the influence, this could constitute a felony.
The prosecution can use the results of BAC testing to prove that your blood alcohol level was over the limit. Tests for BAC include blood, breath, and urine tests. The state can also use testimony and other evidence to prove the alcohol in your system impaired your ability to drive.
The best way to beat felony DUI charges is with the help of an experienced Louisville felony DUI lawyer. An attorney investigates the evidence against you, collects additional evidence, and devises a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of an acquittal or a fair plea bargain.
What Are the Defenses to Felony DUI Charges in Louisville, KY?
The defenses to a felony DUI depend on the facts of your case. An experienced Louisville DUI lawyer analyzes all evidence in your case to determine the best defenses to use. Your attorney reviews:
- Arrest records and police reports
- Statements from witnesses
- Body cam and dash cam video
- 911 recordings
- Results from breath, blood, and urine tests
Attorneys may file one or more motions to challenge the evidence. For example, the attorney may file a motion to argue that the DUI stop was unlawful because of lack of probable cause. If the judge agrees, all evidence from the DUI stop could be inadmissible in court.
Your attorney may challenge the results of field sobriety tests. For example, the police officer may not have administered the test correctly. Therefore, the results could be unreliable.
Attorneys challenge eyewitness testimony through cross-examination in court. They may also file motions to have blood samples tested at an independent laboratory or file a motion to suppress the test results because the officers violated your constitutional rights.There could be additional DUI defenses available. You can learn more about fighting felony DUI charges in Louisville by talking with an attorney. Louisville DUI lawyers offer free consultations, so it costs nothing to talk with an attorney about your DUI charges.
Contact the Louisville DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Louisville
214 Clay Street, Suite A
Louisville, KY 40202