Kentucky DUI Laws

Kentucky DUI laws state that any driver over 21 cannot have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, it’s 0.04%.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Kentucky DUI laws state that anyone who is driving with a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above can be charged with a DUI, or "driving while intoxicated." Anyone under 21 can be charged if their BAC is higher than 0.02%. Commercial drivers must not exceed 0.04%.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
It is a dangerous crime to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Penalties vary by state, but even a first-time offense could cost you up to $10,000 in legal fees and fines. A DUI in Kentucky will most certainly impact your
Kentucky car insurance costs
, too.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Kentucky DUI laws, compiled by
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, the
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What is a DUI?

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence whereas DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired.
A Kentucky driver can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes legal drugs like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
Some states use different terms to mean the same thing, like OUI (operating under the influence) or OWI (operating while intoxicated).

DUI in Kentucky

In Kentucky, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you’re driving a commercial vehicle
  • 0.02% or higher if you’re under the age of 21
Key Takeaway There is zero tolerance for minors driving under the influence. People under the age of 21 may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.
Each state has an implied consent law which says that you consent to be tested if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for a DUI, you are required to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. Kentucky drivers who refuse a test can be penalized with revocation of their license, even if the DUI charge is dismissed.
You do not have the right to consult with legal counsel before taking the test.

Penalties for a DUI in Kentucky

Penalties for DUIs are harsh in Kentucky and the conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years.

First conviction

In Kentucky, a first offense DUI for a driver 21 and older could result in the following penalties.
Penalty
Description
Fine
$600 to $2,100
Jail
48 hours to 30 days
License suspension
Minimum 90 days
Vehicle impoundment
No
SR-22 requirement
No
Ignition interlock device
Yes, 30 to 120 days
Be aware that aggravating circumstances will double the minimum jail time. These include situations involving a passenger under 12 years old, refusal to take an alcohol test, excessive speeding, an injury accident, or a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
For an underage DUI, here are the penalties for a first conviction.
Penalty
Description
Fine
$500 or 20 hours of community service
Jail
No
License suspension
Revoked until age 18
Vehicle impoundment
No
SR-22 requirement
No
Ignition interlock device
Yes
The judge can also require the driver to participate in a substance abuse program. A first offense DUI requires 90 days of treatment at minimum, and subsequent convictions will be one year or more. This may be a residential or inpatient program.

Subsequent convictions

If you are convicted of a DUI again, you will be subject to increased penalties.
Penalty
Description
Fine
$500 to %1,000
Jail
Five days to 12 months
License suspension
One year
Vehicle impoundment
Yes
SR-22 requirement
Yes
Ignition interlock device
Yes, one to three years
The judge may force you to surrender your license plate. This can be avoided if you install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. This device can prevent you from starting the car if there is any alcohol on your breath.
It may be possible for you to obtain a restricted or hardship license in Kentucky after a first offense that permits you to drive when necessary (i.e., to work) if you agree to:
  • Complete the prescribed program
  • Install an IID
  • Agree to only drive vehicles with an IID
  • Pay the reissue and restriction fees to the state
Key Takeaway Minimum penalties are usually increased if you had a very high blood alcohol concentration or if you were involved in an accident where someone was injured—even for a first conviction.
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Does a DUI impact car insurance in Kentucky?

Yes. Insurance companies are very hesitant to insure drivers who have DUI convictions. You will be classified as a
high-risk driver
.
It may be challenging to find insurance in Kentucky with a DUI on record, so the best strategy is to shop around. The
Jerry
app can compare rates from up to 50 top insurance companies—in just 60 seconds—so you don’t have to deal with lengthy forms or judgmental salespeople.
With a conviction on your record, expect substantially higher rates than your previous payment. However, Kentucky is one of six states where
SR-22
forms are not required.

Other effects of a DUI

On top of the penalties and higher insurance rates, you could face additional consequences due to a DUI conviction.
License revocation: After a DUI charge, you may have your license revoked if you were charged with other serious offenses—like endangerment.
Ignition interlock device: Every state has a version of the ignition interlock program which requires drivers with a DUI conviction to install this device in their vehicle. It can disable your engine if any alcohol is detected on your breath.
Background checks: Employers can see a DUI conviction on your background check. This means that a single charge could jeopardize your job prospects, especially since it will stay on your record for 10 years in Kentucky.

How to find cheap insurance after a DUI

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