In 2011, Kentucky had 171 drunk driving-related fatalities, making up 24% of total traffic deaths that year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). With felony DUIs for fourth and subsequent offenders, the use of sobriety checkpoints, and mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment for all convicted offenders, Kentucky is tough on drunk drivers. However, the state could significantly improve their drunk driving laws by requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Currently, interlocks are only required at the discretion of the judge. A bill that would require interlocks for first-time offenders was introduced to the House earlier this year but is still in legislation. MADD is currently advocating for its passage.
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher in Kentucky is charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Consequences include a fine, jail time, driver’s license suspension, community service, and participation in an alcohol or substance abuse program or treatment. An offense is considered a repeat offense if committed within five years of a prior conviction.
- 1st Offense: $200-$500 fine; 2 to 30 days in jail; 30- to 120-day license suspension; 48 hours to 30 days community service; 90 days of alcohol abuse program
- 2nd Offense: $350-$500 fine; 7 days to 6 months in jail; 12- to 18-month license suspension; 10 days to 6 months community service; 1 year in treatment
- 3rd Offense: $500-$1,000 fine; 30 days to 12 months in jail; 24- to 36-month license suspension; 10 days to 12 months community service; 1 year in treatment
- 4th and Subsequent Offenses (felony): At least 120 days in prison; 60-month license suspension; 1 year in treatment
Driving 30 mph over the speed limit, driving the wrong way on a limited access highway, causing the serious bodily injury or death of another person, driving with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, and transporting passengers under the age of 12 are all aggravating circumstances that result in an increased minimum jail time: 4 days after a 1st offense, 14 days after a 2nd offense, 60 days after a 3rd offense, and 240 days after 4th and subsequent offenses.
Ignition Interlock Law
The court may order DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock in their vehicles after the license suspension period ends. The offender must keep the device installed for 6 months after a first offense, 12 months after a second offense, or 30 months after third and subsequent offenses.