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Will I lose my license after a DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Kentucky are serious. These criminal charges can apply to anyone who is driving while impaired due to the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or any other substance. A DUI conviction comes with serious penalties, including the potential to lose your driver’s license for a set period of time.

The length of driver’s license suspension varies depending on the circumstances. The following provides some information to help you determine how the law in Kentucky may apply to your situation.

What are the penalties for a first DUI conviction?

A conviction for a first DUI generally comes with a six-month license suspension as well as 90 days of an alcohol or substance abuse program, $200 to $500 in monetary penalties and 48 hours to 30 days in jail. Aggravating circumstances can lead to increased penalties. Examples can include having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense or if there was also an accident that led to injuries or serious property damage.

Will I lose my license immediately after a DUI?

It depends. In some cases, the answer can be yes. Kentucky has an implied consent law. This law is pretty common and basically means that anyone driving in Kentucky has given consent to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse a breathalyzer, the court will likely suspend your driver’s license for the same amount of time as if there was a conviction. This can go into effect at your first appearance, the arraignment.

It is important to note that, in some circumstances, the commonwealth will allow for a hardship driver’s license. This basically allows you to drive under certain circumstances even if your driver’s license is officially suspended. Approval hinges on showing that the inability to drive will hinder employment, the ability to attend school or medical appointments.

What if this is not my first DUI?

Kentucky law can result in an 18-month driver’s license suspension for a second offense within 10 years, and 36 months for a third offense within 10 years. The commonwealth also provides an option to reduce the suspension period through use of an ignition interlock. Those who choose to enroll in the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program (KIIP) can reduce their suspension period to four months for a first offense, 12 months for a second and 19 months for a third. Kentucky generally requires the applicant be violation-free for a set period of time depending on the offense, generally ranging from 90 to 120 days.

The commonwealth takes violations seriously and can remove the participant from the program for a single offense. Examples of violations can include a failure to take a random breath alcohol test, a failure to pass a test or a failure to pay the required fees.

Is there anything else I should know?

A traditional driver’s license is not the only license that is negatively impacted by a conviction for a DUI. A conviction can also result in the suspension of a commercial driver’s license (CDL), making it difficult for professional truckers and others who require a CDL within their profession to continue work. Other professional licenses can also be at risk. These can include a medical license and nursing license depending on the details of the charges.

It is also important to note that these laws are regularly evolving. They changed as recently as July 1, 2020. In the past, the courts had some discretion and suspension rates ranged from 30 to 120 days. The new law increased the length of suspension and severely limited the court’s discretion.

The impact of losing a license is huge. It is often more than just an inconvenience, it can make it impossible to get to work, take kids to school and otherwise meet your daily routine even if authorities approve a hardship driver’s license. There are often defenses that can help defeat the criminal charges before they become a conviction. It is important to stay up to date with the law that will impact your case when building these defenses to better ensure you use the best strategy available.