In Kentucky, driving under the influence (DUI) is typically classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, specific circumstances can escalate this to a felony DUI charge, which carries more severe penalties. 

If you’re facing DUI charges, identifying these specific conditions can help you understand potential consequences and build an informed legal defense strategy. 

A Fourth or Subsequent DUI in Kentucky Is a Felony

A DUI charge is always serious. However, when you accumulate multiple convictions for driving under the influence, their subsequent sentences progressively become more severe. 

An essential benchmark to be aware of is when you’re convicted of a fourth DUI in a 10-year period. In this case, your DUI will automatically be charged as a Class D felony instead of a misdemeanor. 

Penalties for Felony DUI in Kentucky

When a DUI offense escalates to felony status in Kentucky, the resulting penalties can extend far beyond those of misdemeanor convictions, reflecting the state’s seriousness about addressing repeated violations. The consequences of a felony DUI include:

Jail Time

Offenders face jail time up to 5 years, with a mandatory 120 days. Judges cannot offer probation until this 120-day minimum period of imprisonment has been completed.

Mandatory Substance Abuse Treatment

Those convicted of a felony DUI are also required to complete at least one year of mandated alcohol or substance abuse treatment aimed at helping them overcome their substance abuse issues. 

License Suspension

In addition to the above penalties, your driver’s license gets suspended for a significant period of time – up to 60 months in the case of a felony DUI. However, you can apply for an interlock ignition device and potentially have the suspension period reduced down to 36 months under certain circumstances.


Monetary fines for felony DUI in Kentucky fluctuate significantly depending on the specifics of your case. However, you should anticipate being required to pay fines from between $1,000 to $10,000 or more.

The penalties associated with a felony DUI in Kentucky are severe, highlighting the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and your future. 

Defending Yourself Against Felony DUI Charges in Kentucky

Facing a felony DUI charge in Kentucky might seem like an uphill battle. However, numerous effective defense strategies exist to fight your charges, including:

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion

For an officer to conduct a traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, like a traffic violation. This could include erratic driving, running a red light, or failing to use a turn signal. If the initial traffic stop wasn’t supported by reasonable suspicion, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress to ask for all observations and evidence recovered from the time of the stop going forward to be excluded. 

This means it cannot be used against you at trial, significantly weakening or even destroying a prosecutor’s case against you. 

Problems With Breathalyzer or Procedures

Procedural mistakes or malfunctions with breathalyzers could work in favor of your defense. All procedures must be followed correctly for the test results to be admissible in court. This includes having a properly trained professional conduct the test, adherence to a waiting period before testing, and maintenance and calibration of equipment used, among others.

Chain of Custody 

For evidence to be admissible – like breathalyzer results or bloodwork from a chemical test – there must be strict adherence to the chain of custody protocols. This involves keeping track of who handled the evidence at every stage, from collection, transport, and storage until it reaches court. 

There must be no opportunity for contamination or tampering that could affect the results. If your lawyer can show that there was mismanagement in this regard, it could lead to the results being inadmissible. 

Not Your 4th DUI in 10 Years 

Challenging a felony DUI charge can also be done by arguing that this wasn’t actually your 4th DUI in 10 years. 

If it’s possible to demonstrate, for example, that the current arrest is not actually your 4th DUI in the necessary time period, your charges could be dropped to a misdemeanor, significantly reducing the penalties. 

Contact the Lexington DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

The defenses mentioned here are by no means exhaustive, but they should give you an understanding of the possibilities available to contest such severe accusations. 

For more information, contact the DUI attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (859) 569-4014 or visit us at our Lexington law office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Lexington
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507
United States