Client Focused. Results Driven.
Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith

DUI Attorneys in Northern Kentucky

Helping Clients Understand the Implications of DUI Charges

DUI arrests have been trending downward over the last decade or so in Kentucky, but there are still more than 17,000 people arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or another substance every year. DUIs also represent between 5%-6% of total arrests in the state. If you’re included in one of these statistics, you could face fines, jail time, and a suspension of your driver’s license. It’s important to know your rights if you’re arrested for driving under the influence and what legal options may be available to you, including a defense attorney.

Being arrested for a DUI may be common, but that doesn’t make it less of a big deal. The consequences of a DUI conviction are significant, and facing a license suspension can affect your ability to drive and handle your other responsibilities. Ensure your rights are protected and that you understand all of your options when you work with the attorneys at the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC.

Does a DUI Only Apply to Driving After Drinking Alcohol?

Many people equate DUI charges with drunk driving, and it’s true that driving a vehicle after drinking too much can result in DUI charges. If your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you are over the legal limit. This is reduced to 0.02 if you are less than 21 years of age and 0.04 for commercial drivers. However, it’s also possible to be charged with a DUI even if you were not driving the vehicle or didn’t drink any alcohol.

Kentucky § 189A.010 also includes operating a can and being under the influence of “a controlled substance or other substance which impairs driving ability.” Operating vs. driving is an important distinction in the language of the statute. This means that it’s technically possible to be charged with a DUI even if you aren’t actively driving the vehicle. For example, if the officer sees you in the driver’s seat with the keys and the car turned on, you could potentially be arrested if your BAC is over the limit.

The addition to the statute of controlled substances and impairing substances means that you can be charged with DUI even if you don’t have a high BAC. For example, operating a vehicle while under the influence of legally prescribed drugs that may impair your ability to drive could result in criminal charges. Driving under the influence of any illegal substances is also prohibited.

When Does a DUI Become a Felony in Kentucky?

Most first, second, and third offense DUIs are misdemeanor charges. But if you have been arrested on a fourth DUI charge in the last 10 years, it is a Class D felony. A DUI can also be a felony charge if certain circumstances are present. These include:

  •  Driving more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit
  •  Having a passenger under the age of 12 in the car
  •  Going the wrong way on a highway
  •  Refusing a chemical test for a second or subsequent offense
  •  Causing an accident resulting in the serious injury or death of another person
  •  Having a BAC of 0.15 or more

Felony offenses carry harsh punishments, and a conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. If any of these aggravating circumstances were present at the time of your arrest, speak to an experienced DUI attorney. A lawyer can help you understand whether the circumstances could result in a felony charge and potentially negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf. In some cases, you may be able to get the charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in exchange for pleading guilty or have the charges dropped altogether.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Kentucky?

The penalties for a DUI conviction depend on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and whether you have any previous convictions. First, second, and third offenses are misdemeanor offenses:

  • First offense: Punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500
  •  Second offense: Punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500
  •  Third offense: Punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000

If you are charged with a Class D felony because it is your fourth or subsequent offense in 10 years or there were aggravating circumstances, you could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Your driver’s license is also subject to suspension as follows:

  •  First offense: 6 months
  •  Second offense: 18 months
  •  Third offense: 36 months
  •  Fourth offense: 60 months

What Is the Kentucky Interlock Program?

The Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program allows you to have your license suspension term shortened in exchange for agreeing to use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This can mean that you are able to return to driving to and from work more quickly and can get back to your normal life sooner. You must apply and be approved to be able to use the KIIP program, and it is not guaranteed that you will be accepted. You must also use the device and have a 90-120-day record of sober driving before you can request that your suspension time be reduced.

Don’t let a DUI charge affect your future. Contact the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC, at 859-667-1204 to speak to a DUI lawyer about your case and find out how you can protect your rights.