Kentucky DUI Defense
Driving under the influence (DUI) is dangerous to the impaired driver and to others on the road. This is pretty much indisputable. But drinking alcohol is legal, and a common feature of American social life—and sometimes business as well. Deals are often made after hours over drinks, and companies frequently host cocktail parties for their employees and clients. Society sends mixed messages about drinking: alcohol is for people who are fun to be with, sociable, and successful on the one hand; on the other, alcohol is a dangerous, even deadly drug, which poses a risk to society.
Social drinking is often done away from home—in restaurants, bars, and the homes of friends, which means at the end of the day, you will need to get back to your own home, which typically involves driving. Depending on your body size and other factors, it may take very little alcohol for you to become legally impaired, even though you may feel quite sober. So, although you’ve been a law abiding citizen your entire life, you get behind the wheel one day after just a few social drinks, get pulled over, blow over the legal limit of .08 percent on the Intoxilyzer 5000EN field breath test, are charged with DUI, and suddenly you are a criminal.
This is only one of many possible scenarios that could lead to a Kentucky DUI charge. But DUI is a crime that many people who live an otherwise straight and law-abiding life are often charged with. The consequences can be severe, potentially limiting nearly every activity of your life, including your ability to go to work to support yourself and your family.
If you are caught driving under the influence (DUI) in Kentucky, you risk losing your license, paying hefty fines, and spending time in jail. You may even have your plates taken away or be forced to install an ignition interlock device on your car, at your own expense, if you are allowed to drive at all.
When the Law Says You are Drunk
In Kentucky, as in most other states, if your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, you are automatically considered to be “under the influence.” You can still be convicted of DUI at a lower BAC, however, if a police officer observes you driving erratically or if you are involved in an accident. If you are under 21, Kentucky has “zero tolerance” for drinking and driving, so that even if you test .02, you are considered legally impaired. For drivers of commercial vehicles over age 21, the amount is .04 percent.
In addition to alcohol, you can become impaired by prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs or other substances such as inhalants. The amount of these substances in your body will need to be determined by a blood or urine test.
In order for a police officer to pull you over, you must have done something to cause the officer to suspect that you were driving under the influence, such as weaving, drifting into the wrong lane, speeding, driving in the wrong direction, running a stop sign, driving too slowly, or driving erratically, for example.
You may then be asked to perform a field sobriety test. It is always best to refuse this test, as it is stacked against you. If you agreed to a field sobriety test and it led to a DUI charge, your attorney will challenge the officer’s training and interpretation of the results.
Kentucky’s Implied Consent Law
Under Kentucky’s Implied Consent Law, if you choose to operate a motor vehicle, you are deemed to have given your consent to blood, breath, urine, or a combination of tests to determine your blood alcohol content or the presence of any other substance that could cause impairment. You can refuse the test, but your license will usually be suspended for a period of time that depends on whether you have previously refused a test.
If you refuse the tests, your license will immediately be suspended for a period determined by the number of previous refusals: A first refusal will generally result in a suspension of between 30 and 120 days. Subsequent refusals result in longer suspensions, as high as five years.
This having been said, it may be to your advantage to refuse the test anyway and accept the suspension. By refusing, you will deprive the prosecution of pro se evidence of intoxication at trial and you may be able to avoid a conviction.
Kentucky DUI Penalties
For a 1st offense DUI penalties may include:
- A 30 to 120-day suspension of your driver’s license
- Between two and thirty days in jail
- Fines ranging from $200 to $500
- Mandatory alcohol or substance abuse treatment for 90 days
- From 48 hours to 30 days of community service
Penalties increase with subsequent DUIs; in addition to increased fines and jail time, after a second DUI, you could be required to install an ignition interlock system that will not allow you to start the car if your BAC registers .02 percent or higher.
These are circumstances that may result in enhanced penalties for Aggravated DUI:
- Driving with a child under 12 years old in the car
- Driving at 30 MPH or more over the posted speed limit
- Driving in the wrong direction
- A BAC of .15 percent or higher
- Refusing a breath, blood, or urine test
- Involvement in an accident causing a serious injury or fatality
Reinstatement of Your License Following a Kentucky DUI
Once your suspension period has ended, you may be able to have your license reinstated by paying a $40 fee, proof of completion of required drug or alcohol treatment, and proof of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if it is your second or subsequent DUI.
How a Kentucky DUI Lawyer Can Help: Defenses against DUI Charges
A skilled and experienced DUI attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your Kentucky DUI case. Potential defenses include, among others:
- The officer did not have probable cause to pull you over or to request a test.
- The officer did not administer the field sobriety test in exact accordance with the instructions in the manual.
- The officer did not score the test correctly.
- You have a physical condition or illness that might have wrongly been interpreted as alcohol or drug impairment.
- The officer was not properly trained to administer the Intoxilyzer.
- The device was not properly maintained or calibrated.
- Errors occurred in the chain of custody of your blood or urine test.
- Your BAC was not as high at the time of stop as it was later, with the passage of time.
- You were driving out of dire necessity to prevent a greater harm. For example, you were rushing a person suffering a stroke to the hospital, after drinking.
- You were driving involuntarily, under duress
- Entrapment by the arresting officer
Each case is different, and each defense will reflect the facts and circumstances of the specific case. But there are many possible defenses, and your lawyer will use those that are the most appropriate in your particular case.
Get Skilled Representation for DUI Charges in Western Kentucky
A DUI conviction in Kentucky will remain on your record for years. Because the consequences can wreak havoc on your life and livelihood, it is to your benefit to hire a lawyer who knows the ropes when it comes to DUI defense in Kentucky. To minimize the damage to your life, your finances, and your reputation, contact the Bowling Green law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC, to speak with a highly skilled DUI defense lawyer immediately.