In this entry, I’ll touch on the issues surrounding a first offense DUI charge as it relates to a pre-trial license suspension. We’ll look at when they happen by statute, how a judge can suspend your license even when the law doesn’t require it, and what can a person do if their license is suspended for a first offense refusal.
Kentucky law provides for a driver’s license suspension on a first offense DUI only when the person refuses a chemical test. In other words, if a person is arrested for DUI and the officer requests a blood or breath test and the arrested person refuses to provide a sample, the law provides for that persons driver’s license to be suspended at the arraignment.
On the other hand, if a person submits to a chemical test their license is not suspended by statute. This is true even if the person is well over the legal limit. For example, if a person is arrested for DUI and is taken back to the detention facility and submits to a breath test with a result of 0.21, their license will not be suspended. However, if they refused a chemical test, the arraignment judge will suspend them.
There are some instances where a person will be suspended even though they took the chemical test. We see this most often in Campbell County. Many times the judge, as a condition of bond, will order ‘no driving’ for the person. This has the effect of suspending that person’s driver’s license since they’re no longer able to drive. As a defense lawyer, I will typically address this ‘suspension’ at the arraignment. In almost all of the cases I’ve been successful in having the judge lift the driving prohibition. In the few cases where that hasn’t occurred, there was an auto accident with injuries.
One of the big benefits of the Senate Bill 133 that took effect on July 15, 2015 was to allow for the use of ignition interlock to grant immediate driving privileges for someone charged with a DUI that refused a chemical test. We’ve been successful in having our clients walk out of their initial arraignment with an Ignition Interlock order and have the device installed the same day. The option of the Interlock is at the court’s discretion – so in some instances the judge may not grant that permission. I’ve only had that occur in one case and that was where my client had two prior offenses.