On July 1, 2020, new laws regarding Driving Under the Influence (DUI) took effect in Kentucky. As one would expect, everyone – including lawyers, judges and the general public – is learning how these laws apply to our everyday lives.

My intent is to summarize here what I think you need to know about these new laws. This is by no means a comprehensive article on the new law(s), nor should you consider it legal advice. It is simply general information that I hope clarifies the practical effects of these important changes in the law.

KRS Chapter 189A contains the statutes that govern DUI offenses in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The new law provides for the following:

  • The legal limit remains .08. Some of the presumptions under the statute have changed, but for now you just need to know that the legal limit remains the same as it was before.
  • The license suspension periods were changed significantly and are now as follows:
    • First Offense: Four months if you have an ignition interlock device (IID); Six months without an IID;
    • Second Offense: 12 months with an IID; 18 months without an IID;
    • Third Offense: 18 months with an IID; 36 months without an IID; and
    • Fourth Offense: 30 months with an IID; 60 months without an IID.
    • In addition, the fourth offense remains a class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.
  • The so-called “lookback period” remains at 10 years, and the new statute clarifies that it starts and ends with arrest dates, not conviction dates.
    • What’s the lookback period? The “lookback period” is the time between arrest dates during which a DUI arrest is considered a subsequent offense For example, if you were arrested for DUI on Jan. 1, 2021 and are then arrested for DUI again anytime within the next 10 years, the second arrest (and additional arrests during that 10 year period) would carry enhanced penalties. If the subsequent arrest occurs AFTER the 10 year “lookback period,” the clock resets and it is considered a “first offense.” Again, conviction dates have no bearing on the lookback period – it is based on the date of the latest arrest.
  • One of the biggest changes in the law has to do with the administration of ignition interlock devices (IIDs).What’s an IID? An IID is a device that is installed in a person’s vehicle after being convicted that contains a breath-alcohol analyzer. Before the vehicle will operate, the driver has to blow into the device, which measures his or her blood alcohol concentration level. If that level exceeds .02 as measured by the device, the vehicle will not start or operate. As a fail-safe measure, the IID also takes a photograph of the person blowing into the device to confirm that the actual offender – and not a stand-in – is being evaluated.IIDs are a godsend for many people, as they allow the offender to continue driving to and from work, etc. But the law has changed where and how their use is administered. Prior to July 1, 2020, the IID was subject to the local court’s jurisdiction, so any problems could be addressed by the court and – importantly – by the attorney representing the offender. However, as of July 1, 2020, the IID program is administered only through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. That means the court and defense attorneys now have very little, if anything, to do with the program’s administration relative to a particular offender.

    This change in particular should serve as a reminder that it’s more important than ever to retain a knowledgeable attorney who will carefully scrutinize your case and vigorously defend you before any possible conviction. Remember: Once a case is referred to Transportation, there is no recourse through the courts, and resolving problems could become quite difficult. It’s best to avoid that scenario if at all possible.

Of course, if you have any questions, my office will be happy to assist. We have successfully defended DUI and other criminal cases for over 25 years, and we would be happy to help you out as well. Just call us at 859-255-0050 or on my cell at 859-270-1255. And remember: “Bad things happen to good people.”