In our mobile society, getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage—and a ticket to freedom of sorts. Teenagers can’t wait to jump through all the hoops—reaching the magic age of 16, getting their parent or guardian to sign for the permit, practice driving with a permit and an adult for 180 days, passing the driving skills test—so they can get that license.
But a license in the hands of a 16-year-old Kentucky driver does not translate to unbounded freedom. Kentucky has strict laws on the books for intermediate drivers that, among other things, limit teenagers’ driving time (i.e., no driving between midnight and 6 a.m. without good cause), the number of unrelated passengers allowed in the teenage driver’s vehicle (only one)—and, of course, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited.
Sixteen- and 17-year-old drivers can have their licenses suspended under the relatively new “No Pass/No Drive” law if they drop out of school or let their grades drop. Further, Kentucky has a points system that assigns penalty points of varying degrees for traffic violations.
Of course, as every Kentucky driver knows (or should know), limitations on driving never really go away after age 18. Kentucky has many laws designed to keep our streets and highways safe, and drivers are expected to obey those laws if they want to continue to enjoy the privilege of driving in this Commonwealth. Any violation of any law can result in points being applied to a driver’s record, and too many points can, at the least, result in higher insurance rates, and, at the worst, result in suspension of a driver’s license to drive.
If you as a Kentucky driver have found yourself with one or more violations on your driving record and as a result you are concerned about maintaining your continued freedom to hold a license that will allow you to drive on Kentucky’s roads, you should talk with a Kentucky traffic offense lawyer like Dan Carman. Dan can review the facts of your charges and help you prepare a defense designed to preserve your driving privileges.
What Are Some of Kentucky’s Most Common Traffic Violations?
Kentucky’s traffic laws cover offenses that range from the most obvious, like speeding, to the not so obvious, like failure to yield right of way to a funeral procession or vehicle abandonment. Common offenses include:
Speeding – Where no speed limit is posted, Kentucky’s laws limit speeds to 15 miles per hour (mph) in off-street parking facilities, 35 mph in residential areas and inside town limits, 55 mph on open highways and limited access highways in urban areas, and 65 mph on rural interstate and limited access highways. Persons caught driving 10 or more miles per hour over the posted or legal speed limit are guilty of speeding.
Reckless Driving – Driving too fast for road conditions, having too many passengers in the car, changing drivers while the vehicle is in motion, switching lanes erratically in traffic, and failing to yield are all examples of reckless driving.
Driving with a Suspended License – In Kentucky, driver’s licenses can be suspended for several reasons, including having too many moving violations, DUI convictions, driving without insurance, using a motor vehicle to commit a crime, and using your license or someone else’s for an illegal purchase of alcohol.
Driving with an Expired License – In Kentucky, driver licenses are valid for four years. The license of a person under the age of 21 expires 90 days after their 21st birthday; the license of anyone 21 and older expires 31 days after their birthdate.
Driving Without Insurance – Kentucky law in 2012 toughened the penalties for drivers caught driving without insurance, with insurance companies now required to submit to the state a monthly list of vehicle identification (VIN) numbers of the vehicles they insure that are registered to Kentucky owners. Drivers who are shown to have been without insurance for more than 60 days, after a comparison is made between the insurance company list and Kentucky’s driver database, are issued notices and must show proof of insurance within 30 days of the notice.
Leaving the Scene of An Accident – Kentucky law requires the operator of any vehicle, if that vehicle, vehicle load, or vehicle equipment was involved in an accident that resulted in someone’s death or injury, or resulted in damage to another vehicle or property, to stop immediately and ascertain the extent of the injury or damage and to render reasonable assistance.
What Are the Possible Fines and Point Assessments For These Violations?
Speeding – Speeding fines vary, depending on how many miles over the speed limit the driver was going and where the speeding violation occurred. Going 10 miles over the limit results in a $20 fine and no points if it occurred on a limited access highway, but 3 points if it happened on any other road. Speeding between 11 and 15 mph over the limit results in 3 points on the driver’s record, and fines ranging from $22 to $30. Drivers between 16 and 25 mph over the limit have 6 points added to their record and fines from $28 to $55. A driver charged with speeding 26 mph over the posted limit is headed to hearing, face $60 to $100 in fines, and may have their his license suspended. If the speeding occurred in a highway work zone or in a school zone with lights flashing, the fine will be doubled. Any charge of speeding carries, in addition to the fine assessed, the required payment of court costs.
Reckless Driving – Drivers charged with driving recklessly face fines ranging from $20 to $100 or more, must pay court costs, and will have 3 or 4 points added to their driving record.
Driving With a Suspended License – In Kentucky, this offense is a Class B misdemeanor, and can result in jail time of 90 days and a fine of $250, but no points added to the driver’s record. Simply failing to surrender a suspended license can result in the same penalties as driving with the suspended license.
Driving With an Expired License – Being charged with failure to renew a license to drive can result in a fine of $250 and court costs, but no points assessed. Similarly, having an expired registration plate, an improper registration plate, an improperly displayed registration plate, or displaying an illegal or altered registration plate can result in a fine of $250 plus court costs.
Driving Without Insurance – Simply failing to produce an insurance card when requested by law enforcement can result in a fine of $250 plus court costs. The failure of an owner to maintain insurance, when it’s a first offense, can result in $500 to $1,000 in fines, plus court costs, a one-year suspension of driving privileges, and up to 90 days in jail. For a second offense, an owner faces $1,000 to $2,500 in fines, plus court costs, six months to one year of license suspension, and up to 180 days in jail. Operators of vehicles other than their own who don’t have proper insurance face similar penalties, except that that operator does not face license suspension for a first-time offense. Failure to maintain insurance is a Class B misdemeanor.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident – A driver who leaves the scene of an accident without rendering aid or assistance (essentially committing a hit-and-run offense) has committed a Class A misdemeanor, and faces $20 to $2,000 in fines, payment of court costs, the possibility of one year in jail, and 6 points added to his or her driving record. Leaving the scene of an accident without rendering aid when a death or serious physical injury has occurred is a Class D felony. That driver faces $20 to $2,000 in fines, court costs, having 6 points added to his or her record, and possibly one year behind bars.
What Should You Do If You’re Charged with a Traffic Offense?
If you have been charged with any driving offense in Kentucky, you need to consider the possibility of talking with a qualified traffic offense attorney. While some offenses are relatively minor, one or more offenses committed in a short period of time may result in the loss of your right to drive, depending on the offense and the number of points on your record.
In addition to possibly having your license suspended, you face having to ask for time off from work to appear in traffic court, to pay fines, and to otherwise address your situation. Since your livelihood may depend on maintaining a good attendance record in order to keep your job, asking for time off can create problems at the job. Having your license suspended can create even more problems for you, since you mostly likely depend on being able to drive to work and to take care of family responsibilities.
If you have been charged with a traffic offense in Lexington or anywhere else in Kentucky, talk with Dan Carman today. Dan is a qualified Lexington traffic offense lawyer who can go over your charges and prepare a defense that will address clearing your driving record and helping you maintain the privilege of driving.
Call Dan at (859) 685-1055, or fill out his online contact form to get the help you need.