The tragedy of the Carrollton bus crash of 1998 led Kentucky to increase the consequences for drunk driving significantly. However, Kentucky still ranks as one of the states with the highest rates of DUIs in the country.
It seems that government officials took action yet again last month when they passed a law to increase the penalties for a first-time DUI.
What are the current penalties for first-time offenses?
The penalties for a DUI usually depend on the circumstances the driver was in before and during the traffic stop. For example, if a driver under the influence of alcohol caused an auto accident, the penalties could increase.
However, the consequences for a first-time DUI may include:
- Fines from $200 to $500
- Community service
- License suspension up to 120 days
- Possible jail time
It is also possible that individuals might have to attend a state-certified alcohol abuse program for 90 days in addition to these penalties.
Ignition interlock devices added to first-time offenses
According to Wave3 News in Frankfort, a new law signed by Gov. Matt Bevin could require individuals to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle after a first DUI conviction. These devices were already necessary for repeat offenders, but it is a new addition for first-time offenses.
The law provides the ignition interlock device as an option, not a requirement. However, if first-time offenders opt out of using the device, their license suspension will be for a longer period.
Ignition interlock devices are almost like portable Breathalyzer tests. An individual must blow into an ignition interlock device to start their car. And the vehicle will not start unless the individual's blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level is below 0.02.
What does this mean for the future?
The law goes into effect on July 1, 2020. While the device could decrease the period of license suspension, it still has a severe impact on driving privileges. And a DUI charge still has negative consequences on an individual's record and opportunities.
Changes in DUI laws do not necessarily change the outcomes that DUIs have on individuals. Fighting a DUI charge with the help of an experienced attorney is still an option for anyone facing a first-time DUI offense.