A DUI charge in Kentucky has two variables – the number of prior convictions in the past 10 years and whether or not an aggravating circumstance is present.

Here are the aggravating circumstances under current Kentucky DUI Law:

  1. A refusal of a chemical test with a prior conviction in the past 10 years
  2. Causing an accident with serious injury or death
  3. Going the wrong way on a limited access highway
  4. Having a child under the age of 12 in the vehicle
  5. Operating in excess of 30mph over the speed limit
  6. Having a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more

The consequences of an aggravated DUI are two-fold. First, the minimum jail time is doubled. For example, if the minimum sentence is 7 days on a 2nd offense, the presence of an aggravating circumstance doubles the minimum time to 14 days.

One common misconception and a charging mistake often made by police officers is to charge someone with an aggravated DUI on a 1st offense when they’ve refused the chemical test. A refusal on a 1st offense DUI is not an aggravated DUI under Kentucky law. Sometimes this mistake is corrected at arraignment and sometimes it is corrected at a pre-trial. Regardless, it’s a very important issue and needs to be address prior to a plea or prior to trial.

In 2010 the Kentucky legislature amended the DUI law under KRS 189A.010 to make a blood alcohol level of 0.15 an aggravated DUI. Prior to that, the level for an aggravated DUI was 0.17. Many times a prosecutor is amenable to reducing the charge to a non-aggravated DUI even when the blood or breath test reveals a DUI over the aggravated limit.