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Your Louisville DUI Case: The Basics

Louisville is the Gateway to the South, and people from Louisville have lots of reasons to take advantage of some southern hospitality. Partying with the college kids at Fourth Street Live is always fun, or if you're a bit more adventurous, you could discover your new favorite brew at Louisville's best kept secret, Sergio's World Beers. The Kentucky Derby and the Cardinals bring sports fans from all over the nation, all of whom want to later celebrate with -- or drown their sorrows in -- some good Kentucky bourbon. All this revelry makes for good times. It would be awful to tarnish these wonderful memories by ending your night with a DUI arrest, so the best, and safest, way to get home is to designate a driver or take the bus. However, if you do get arrested for DUI, here is some information on how the DUI process works in Louisville.

Basics of Kentucky DUI Law

"DUI" stands for Driving Under the Influence, and refers to the crime of operating a motor vehicle while impaired with alcohol, or some other substance that affects your ability to drive. Drivers 21-years-old and older are considered intoxicated by alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is .08% or higher. Drivers under 21 are considered intoxicated when their BAC is .02% or higher. However, if the driver acts as if they are intoxicated, he may still be arrested for a DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit.

DUI Penalties and Classification

The Kentucky penal code assigns different minimum penalties depending on whether the driver had one, two, or three arrests that led DUI convictions within the five years before her current arrest. These penalties include:

First Offense:

  • $200-500 Fine, (under 21, $100-500),or
  • 2 to 30 Days in Jail, or
  • Possible 48 Hours-30 Days Community Labor, or
  • 90 Days of Alcohol or Substance Abuse Program, and
  • 30 to 120 Day License Suspension (under 21, 30-180 days).

First offenders over 18 without any prior felony convictions in Jefferson County may also be eligible for a "diversion program" run through the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. A local DUI attorney, will be able to discuss all of your options with you.

Second Offense:

  • $350-500 Fine, or
  • 7 Days-6 Months in Jail,
  • 1 Year of Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment, or
  • 10 Days-6 Months Community Labor, and
  • 12 to 18 Month License Suspension

Third Offense:

  • $500-1,000 Fine; or
  • 30 Days-12 Months Jail, or
  • 1 Year of Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment, or
  • 10 Days-12 Months Community Labor, and
  • 24 to 36 Month License Suspension

Fourth or Higher Offense:

  • Class D Felony, and
  • Minimum Term 120 Days Imprisonment Without Probation, or
  • 1 Year of Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment, and
  • 60 Month License Suspension

If any of the following aggravating circumstances are present, the minimum jail times are doubled for all offenses:

  • Over 30 mph over speed limit
  • Wrong way on limited access highway
  • Causes accident resulting in death or serious physical injury
  • Alcohol level of .15% or more within 2 hours after operating
  • Refusal to submit to testing
  • Transporting passengers under 12 years of age

DUI Arrests and Implied Consent

DUI arrests are similar to arrests for other crimes. A Louisville Police or Kentucky State officer will stop a car at a sobriety checkpoint, or pull a car over when she has reasonable suspicion that the driver may be intoxicated. The officer can then decide whether to conduct a field sobriety test; a blood, breath, or urine test; or to let the driver go. You may have heard that it can be to your advantage to refuse a BAC test, but that is not the case in Kentucky. Kentucky has "implied consent" laws on the books, which means that you consent to chemical BAC tests whenever you operate a vehicle. Refusing a BAC test in Kentucky is considered an aggravating factor, and will double the minimum jail sentence you can receive.

If the results of the sobriety or BAC tests show that the officer has probable cause to arrest the driver, the driver will then be transported to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, where the driver will be booked and held until the driver can post bail.

The DUI Trial Process

The first thing a driver who was arrested for a DUI in Louisville should do after posting bail is to hire a local DUI attorney. A skilled local DUI attorney will have a good understanding of all the options available to you and will probably be able to negotiate a better deal.

DUI cases for first, second, or third offenders are tried for misdemeanors and are processed in the Criminal/Traffic District Court in the Louis D. Brandeis Hall of Justice at 600 W. Jefferson Street. Fourth or higher offenders are tried for felonies and processed through the Criminal Circuit Court in the Hall of Justice at 700 W. Jefferson Street. First, the defendant goes to an arraignment, where she enters a guilty or a not guilty plea. A not guilty plea means that the case will go on to a full criminal trial. A guilty plea means the case will skip straight to sentencing. Negotiations with the prosecutor can happen at any stage of the process. A judge typically sentences the defendant, and will choose a sentence based on the severity of the DUI.


Everyone likes to go out and have fun and Louisville is a great town to do it in. But don't let a DUI wreck your night or your life. If you do face a DUI, this page and other FindLaw resources are here to help.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


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