Driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Kentucky are usually misdemeanor offenses. When someone gets pulled over and fails a breath test, they will face a misdemeanor charge that might mean jail time, fines and the temporary suspension of their driver’s license.
Sometimes, Kentucky drivers accused of a DUI offense will face felony charges instead of misdemeanor charges. A felony is a more serious mark on your criminal record and also leads to more consequences during sentencing.
When does a DUI charge in Kentucky become a felony offense?
Prior offenses are what lead to DUI felonies
When it comes to standard DUI charges involving a traffic stop rather than a crash, repeat offenses are what will lead to felony charges. For most drivers, their first three DUI offenses will likely be misdemeanor charges. However, the fourth DUI that they face will be a felony offense.
There are also aggravating factors that affect DUI charges. If you drive the wrong way on a highway, cause an accident that hurts or kills someone, have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher, have a child under the age of 12 in the vehicle, refuse a breath test or exceed the speed limit by 30 miles per hour or more, the penalties may increase. All of those behaviors are aggravating factors that can impact your sentence. You can face double the jail time that the DUI offense would usually carry.
Defending yourself can help you avoid a felony charge
The more prior offenses you have when the police arrest you for an alleged impaired driving offense, the worse the situation is for you. Defending against earlier DUI charges can protect you from a felony charge.
Pleading guilty to a DUI charge isn’t the best strategy even if you dislike the idea of going to court. A guilty plea will affect your driving privileges and what you pay for insurance. It also increases the chances of losing your license in the future. Even if your recent arrest is the first DUI charge you have faced, the escalating penalties after a first conviction can justify the decision to fight back against a first or second DUI charge.
Learning the penalties that come with DUI offenses can help you make better decisions after you get arrested.