Kentucky State Senate Passes Bill Toughening DUI Laws
Kentucky law punishes all DUIs seriously, but the penalties increase severely for repeat offenses within the state’s “lookback period,” the amount of time over which past DUIs can affect sentencing. At present, the lookback period in Kentucky is five years, but that may change soon. The Kentucky state senate recently passed a bill that would increase the lookback period for DUI offenses. So far, the bill has only made its way through the senate. It still needs to pass the state house and be signed by the governor before it would actually take effect.
The New Bill
The new bill is Senate Bill 34, which would increase the Kentucky state DUI lookback period from five years to 10 years. This means that any DUIs a person was convicted of in the past 10 years will count towards their repeat offender status. Consequently, if the bill passes into law, a person’s convictions for DUIs would stick with them much longer, resulting in severely increased penalties for later convictions.
The impetus for this new bill was a car crash involving Brianna Taylor, a 17-year-old girl who died in a Hardin County drunk driving accident. The other driver in the accident had five previous DUIs, but they had all happened longer than five years ago, so he was charged as though this were his first offense. The bill’s sponsor is pushing for an increased lookback period to capture incidents like these based on statistics the sponsor cited that state that 96 percent of DUI offenders will repeat their offense at some point within 10 years.
Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenses
This potential increase in the lookback period means that drivers with previous DUI convictions should be aware of the penalties that repeat offenders might face if caught again and convicted. Under Kentucky law, the penalties for a second DUI offense are a fine of between $350 and $500, along with a jail sentence of between one week and six months. On top of those penalties courts may also sentence a person to between 10 days and six months of community labor.
The penalties become even harsher for people convicted of a third DUI offense within their lookback period. The fine increases to between $500 and $1,000, and the jail sentence can last anywhere from 30 days at a minimum to a full year depending on the circumstances. The third offense also increases a person’s eligibility for community labor to up to a year.
The fourth conviction for a DUI moves a person into the felony category. Conviction for a fourth DUI is a class D felony under Kentucky law. That means the defendant can be sentenced to between one and five years in prison, along with a potential fine of between $1,000 and $10,000.
Additionally, there are other penalties that come with repeat DUI offenses, such as license suspension and substance abuse counseling. DUIs are serious crimes under Kentucky law, and they come with serious penalties. If you have been charged with a DUI and want to learn more about your rights as a defendant, contact a Lexington criminal defense attorney at Suhre & Associates, LLC today.