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Kentucky legislators don't play around when it comes to driving while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicants or substances that impair your driving ability. Why should they? Based on statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 10,839 alcohol-related deaths nationwide in 2009.
When someone drives under the influence, he's not only putting his own life at risk, he's also endangering the lives of everyone around him―not to mention the lives of the survivors that will be affected when they lose a loved one to a drunk driver.
If you drive under the influence (DUI) in Kentucky, not only do you risk losing your driving privileges, spending time in jail, and paying fines, but you also risk having your license plate confiscated and having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
According to the "Illegal Per Se" provision, you're driving illegally if your blood alcohol content (BAC), which is the amount of ethyl alcohol in your blood, is .08% or higher.
If you're under the age of 21, the BAC limit is .02% per the Zero Alcohol Tolerance rule, and for commercial drivers it's .04%.
Not only is your BAC is affected by the amount of alcohol you've consumed and the rate at which it was consumed, but it's also affected considering your weight, health, and how much food is in your stomach.
Aside from alcohol, your driving can be impaired by prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drugs as well as inhalants such as glues, sprays, and gasoline.
The Implied Consent Law states that anyone operating a motor vehicle, or even a vehicle that is not defined as such, is deemed to have given consent to one or more blood, breath, urine, or combination tests in order to determine the driver's BAC or the presence of any other impairing substance.
If you refuse any of the tests, your license could be immediately suspended from 30 days to five years, regardless of whether or not you're actually convicted of the DUI.
Below are the penalties for each DUI offense in a five-year period:
- First offense: License suspended for 30 to 120 days, $200 to $500 fine, two to 30 days in jail (four extra days if an aggravating circumstance is present), 90 days in an alcohol or substance abuse program, and 48 hours to 30 days of community labor.
- Second offense: License suspended for 12 to 18 months, $350 to $500 fine, seven days to six months in jail (14 extra days if an aggravating circumstance is present), one year in an alcohol or substance abuse program, and 10 days to six months of community labor.
- Third offense: License suspended for 24 to 36 months, $500 to $1,000 fine, 30 days to 12 months in jail (60 extra days if an aggravating circumstance is present), one year in an alcohol or substance abuse program, and 10 days to 12 months of community labor.
- Fourth offense: Class D Felony, license suspended for 60 months, minimum of 120 days in jail with no probation (240 extra days if an aggravating circumstance is present), and one year in an alcohol or substance abuse program.
Note that aggravating circumstances include:
- Driving 30 mph over the speed limit
- Carrying passengers under the age of 12
- Driving in the wrong direction
- Causing an accident resulting in serious physical injury or death
- Refusing to submit to testing
- Having a BAC of .18% or higher two hours after operating the vehicle
If you're convicted of second DUI (or more), you might be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car. This device will require you to take a breath test each time you get in the car, and will disable the car's power if you test over a .02% BAC.
The most obvious tip to avoid the consequences of driving under the influence is simple: Don't do it. Here are a few suggestions to help you.
- If you plan to drink while you're out, have a designated driver accompany you.
- Keep the number for several taxi services with you at all times―just in case.
- Tend to get a little rowdy when you drink? Or stubborn? Maybe you turn into Superman. In any case, the best way to avoid driving yourself home after you've convinced yourself that you're invincible is to leave your car keys at home.
- Know your limits. Having a glass of wine at dinner might not send you to jail; having a bottle, however, probably will. Play around with a BAC calculator to get an idea of what you can legally handle.