Kentucky DUI Laws

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Kentucky DUI Laws

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Kentucky is a serious offense with major consequences. Beyond getting you into serious legal trouble, driving under the influence also points to underlying issues with substance abuse and the need for professional help.

In this guide, we’ll explore Kentucky’s DUI laws, the penalties associated with different offenses, and how rehab plays a pivotal role in preventing DUIs by addressing addiction issues.

Kentucky’s First-Offense DUI Penalties

What Happens When You’re Arrested for a DUI in Kentucky?

When you’re stopped for a DUI in Kentucky, you’ll typically undergo field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer. If arrested, you’ll go into custody and face charges based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the circumstances of your arrest. The process involves going to court multiple times, and potential penalties include fines, jail time, license suspension, and mandatory education or treatment programs.

Kentucky’s First-Offense DUI Penalties

For a first DUI offense, penalties usually include a fine, a 90-day alcohol or substance abuse program, up to 30 days in jail, and license suspension for 30-120 days.

Kentucky’s Second-Offense DUI Penalties

Second-time offenders face harsher penalties, including longer jail time (7 days to 6 months), fines, one year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment, and license suspension for 12-18 months.

Kentucky’s Third-Offense DUI Penalties

A third DUI offense is even more severe, with penalties including 30 days to 1 year in jail, hefty fines, two years of mandatory treatment, and 24-36 months of license suspension.

Kentucky’s Felony (Fourth) DUI Penalties

A fourth offense within a 10-year period is a felony in Kentucky, leading to a minimum of 120 days in jail without probation, long-term license suspension, and mandatory alcohol or substance abuse treatment.

Getting a Hardship License in Kentucky

Kentucky residents with suspended licenses due to a DUI conviction may qualify for a hardship license. This license grants limited driving privileges — typically for essential needs such as commuting to work, school, or medical appointments.

The application process involves a court hearing where you must demonstrate the necessity of driving privileges and your commitment to responsible driving. Approval is at the discretion of the court, and specific restrictions on times and purposes for driving usually come along with the license.

Underage DUI Laws in Kentucky

Kentucky has strict laws for underage DUI offenses and a zero-tolerance policy. Drivers under the age of 21 found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher will face DUI charges.

The penalties for underage DUI in Kentucky are severe and may include license suspension, fines, and mandatory participation in alcohol education programs. These laws discourage underage drinking and driving and are a key part of the state’s commitment to road safety.

Kentucky CMV DUI Penalties

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers in Kentucky follow even higher standards on the road and face harsher consequences for DUI charges. For CMV drivers, a BAC of 0.04% or higher is grounds for a DUI charge, which is half the standard limit for non-commercial drivers.

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Penalties for CMV DUI include license suspension, potential job loss, and heavy fines. These strict rules reflect the higher responsibility placed on commercial drivers because of the nature and size of the vehicles they operate and the potential for more severe consequences when their driving is impaired.

Kentucky SR22 Requirements

Following a DUI conviction in Kentucky, drivers are often required to file an SR22 form. This form is a certificate of financial responsibility proving the driver carries the minimum car insurance required by state law. Filing an SR22 typically results in higher insurance premiums, as drivers now carry the high-risk label. The requirement for SR22 certification usually lasts for a certain period, often three years.

Is It Possible for DUI Charges To Drop in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, DUI charges can be reduced or dismissed under certain circumstances, but it’s very uncommon. Factors that might lead to dropped charges include procedural errors during the arrest, inaccuracies in BAC testing, and effective legal defense. We recommend contacting a lawyer if you think you have been wrongfully charged.

Why Substance Abuse Treatment Matters

If you have a DUI on your record, it’s a sign that you need help dealing with substance abuse problems. Addiction treatment can change your life and help you keep more than just your license in the future. By getting help, you make a lasting investment in your safety, your relationships, and yourself.

Addiction Rehab at Journey Hillside

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you don’t have to do it alone.

At Journey Hillside, our team offers the support, comfort, and expert treatment you need to find freedom and break out of isolation. We offer comprehensive addiction treatment programs, including detox, group and individual therapy, and aftercare support, equipping you for a healthier, happier future. Our unique approach addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, paving the way for recovery and helping you avoid relapse. Reach out to us today to get the process started.


Traveling for treatment can often be more beneficial than finding treatment near your home.

Should I Travel for Treatment?

If you’re struggling with addiction, you may be considering treatment in Kentucky. It’s natural to want to get sober in an environment that feels familiar to you, but traveling for treatment may prove more effective.

Traveling for addiction treatment gives you a fresh start away from familiar triggers and environments. It can provide a new perspective and dedicated focus on recovery. We often help guests from out of state on the recovery journey and encourage Kentucky residents to consider treatment with us on the West coast.

The Benefits of Coming to California For Rehab From Kentucky

Rehab in California has plenty of benefits: a change of scenery, distance from triggering people and places, and access to some of the country’s best treatment centers. Even the natural beauty of California can play a role in your healing process.

The Benefits of Traveling From Kentucky for Detox

Traveling from Kentucky for detox gives you a new start and helps you conquer withdrawal symptoms in a safe, supportive environment. We always recommend detoxing with professionals present at a treatment center rather than at home.

The Benefits of Traveling From Kentucky for Rehab

Opting for rehab away from Kentucky gives you access to diverse treatment methods and makes the recovery process even more rewarding. We make relocation easy for Kentucky clients by helping you with logistics, accepting a variety of insurance policies, and more.