Understanding Kentucky’s Look-Back Period for DUIs

January 23rd, 2024 by Attorney Dan Carman

DUI lawyer

If you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Kentucky, the situation is serious, but even more so if you have had a previous DUI. This is because Kentucky has a “look-back period,” which is the time in which a driver’s record shows past offenses.  If your previous DUI occurred during this look-back period, the penalties you face increase substantially.

Prior to April 9, 2016, Kentucky’s look-back period for DUI was five years for enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, but this was expanded to 10 years in 2016. These changes also affect when prior DUI convictions can be expunged, as defendants are no longer able to expunge DUIs that are less than ten years old.

With consequences so severe, it is extremely risky for anyone facing enhanced penalties for a DUI to fight them on their own. Consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can fight for your rights to see what options are available for you.

Understanding the Consequences of the Longer Look-Back Period

Under the previous five-year look-back period, a person who faced a criminal charge wouldn’t experience harsher penalties for a DUI charge that occurred, for example, seven years prior. Now, that same DUI charge has lingering consequences for 10 years after being charged with impaired driving.

Consider how long 10 years is for someone who made a mistake that carries a heavy stigma like impaired driving. There is little sympathy for someone charged with a DUI, and since the look-back period was extended, more people have carried the burden of their past mistakes for longer periods. People have faced harsher penalties even as lawmakers and criminal justice reform advocates have sought ways to lessen mass incarceration in Kentucky.

Understanding How the New Look-Back Period Affects Penalties

Being charged with drunk driving has many negative consequences. In addition to the harsh penalties and fines, one must deal with judgment from friends and family members. Charges can impact opportunities in education, employment and housing, as well as one’s ability to get a loan.

Here are the penalties involved in Kentucky for first and subsequent DUI charges during the look-back period:

First offense: In Kentucky, a first DUI is a misdemeanor as long as it did not result in injury or property damage. For a first offense within a 10-year period, you can expect to pay a fine up to $500, spend up to 30 days in jail, and have your license suspended for up to 60 days. For a second offense and subsequent offenses, both the fine and the amount of jail time that comes with a conviction keep increasing if within 10 years.

Second offense: In addition, the enhanced penalties of a second DUI offense within 10 years could also include: One year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment and 18-month license suspension.

Third offense: For a third offense within a 10-year period , you may be required to receive one year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment and a 36-month license suspension.

Fourth offense: For a fourth offense within a 10-year period, one year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment and a 60-month license suspension.

In some situations, you may choose to have a reduction of the suspension period by agreeing to use an ignition interlock device through the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program (KIIP) for six months after your license suspension. Through this program, you will be restricted to operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle that has been equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. To qualify for the suspension-reduction program, participants must be violation-free for 90 or 120 consecutive days, based on their offense.

There is no doubt that drunk driving can result in serious injuries and deaths. When someone makes the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking, they should pay a price for their decisions, but extremely lengthy look-back periods take punishments too far and make it difficult for people to redeem themselves. If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Kentucky, you should consider hiring a skilled, experienced Lexington DUI lawyer to help fight these charges.

Get Help from Our DUI Attorney

When it comes to understanding the DUI look-back period and fighting DUI charges, getting legal advice as soon as possible helps prevent making costly mistakes. When you have a DUI defense lawyer, your lawyer can:

  • Assess the specific details of your case to identify any potential legal defenses and tell you how to proceed. Before and after being accused of a DUI, you should remain calm and respectfully tell the officer you need to speak with your attorney before answering any questions, because you have a constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. Refuse to take tests to measure your blood alcohol content as this should make a DUI conviction more difficult, even though it will mean your driver’s license will be suspended.
  • Look for mistakes made by the police or prosecution in the handling of your case and violations of your rights and use them to build your case.
  • Examine police reports and testing and lab reports to see if they were done improperly and can be excluded as evidence.
  • Find out if there were extenuating circumstances such as a bad traffic stop or a medical condition, such as GERD or diabetes, that affected your ability to metabolize alcohol.
  • Prepare you for all hearings and court appearances so you know what to expect and how to act.
  • Make sure all required forms are filed correctly and in a timely manner.
  • Ensure that you avoid additional problems by complying with the law and completing requirements such as alcohol abuse treatment programs.
  • Negotiate and plea bargain with prosecutors for a lesser charge, challenging license suspension and seeking restricted driving privileges when possible, and exploring options for diversion programs.
  • Take your case to trial if necessary, present a strong defense and advocate for your rights.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Kentucky, consider hiring a skilled, experienced DUI lawyer immediately, especially since the look-back period can turn a charge that would previously have been considered a misdemeanor into a felony.  Lexington DUI defense attorney Dan Carman has years of experience making sure his clients are treated fairly by our system and can do the same for you. Contact us today to talk to Dan Carman about your case.

GET HELP NOW CALL 859-685-1055

Attorney Dan Carman

Attorney Dan CarmanFocusing on criminal matters, Mr. Carman is admitted to practice law in all Courts of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, and the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. He is a member of the American, Kentucky, and Fayette County Bar Associations. Mr. Carman also worked as a prosecutor, as well as a legal assistance attorney. Attorney Dan Carman can help you with any criminal defense matters you may need including; DUI, drug, and weapons charges, trespassing, traffic violations and more. [ Attorney Bio ]