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Kentucky’s New Ignition Interlock DUI Bill

Effective July 1, 2020 Kentucky has passed a new Ignition Interlock Bill for those convicted of DUI.

The Bill makes dramatic changes to the existing law.  The Bill in its entirety is set out in Senate Bill 85.

The Interlock will prevent a car from starting if the sample of the persons breath  registers greater than 0.02 grams of alcohol  per 210 liters of breath.  This is no change. Also the driver’s breath is tested every 10 minutes thereafter. This also is no change.    What has changed is the Ignition Interlock Bill now requires a camera which is part of the interlock that will record the date, time, and take a photo of the operator giving the sample.

License suspensions for years have been exclusively imposed by Kentucky’s District Courts. Under the new Bill this has changed requiring the Court to impose the maximum suspension in every DUI conviction. The Court continues to determine if the pending DUI is a first, second or…offense. The determination is binding on the Transportation Cabinet however, the Court is required to impose the maximum license suspension for the level of the DUI conviction.

New license suspensions are as follows:

First offense within 10 years- 6 months. This may be reduced to 4 months.

Second offense within 10 years- 18 months. This may be reduced to 12 months.

Third offense within 10 years-36 months. This may be reduced to 18 months.

Fourth offense or more within 10 years-60 months.  This may be reduced to 30 months.

Under age DUI’s 6 months.  This may be reduced to 4 months.

Suspensions for first offense convictions have been increased from a maximum of 120 days to 6 months.

Second offenders has no change.

Third offenders has no change in the maximum suspensions, however, the minimum suspension has been reduced from 2 years to 18 months.

Maximum penalty for fourth or more offense remains at 60 months, however the minimum suspension has been reduced from a flat 60 months to 30 months.

No rationale has been set forth as to why first offender penalties have increased and more serious repeat offenders penalties have been mitigated.

To obtain the minimum suspensions set out above the Defendant must have an Ignition Interlock installed and must have no Interlock violations for first offense for 90 consecutive days and for all other offenses for 120 consecutive days.  An Interlock violation basically deals with failure to pass any test , maintenance violations, failure to pay established fees,  and tampering with the Interlock. If there is an Interlock violation the suspension goes on until the consecutive day requirement is met or, the maximum suspension has been served.  A defendant is not required to have an Interlock installed however, if not, in every instance he will received the maximum license suspension.  To obtain the reduced suspension the Interlock provider must notify the Transportation Cabinet that the Defendant has satisfied the consecutive day requirement, who will then notify the defendant so he may be returned to his normal driving privileges. The problem with this system is there is no driving force for the provider to notify the Transportation Cabinet.   Nor is there a driving force for the Transportation Cabinet to immediately notify the defendant. There will unquestionably be delays with no easy fix.

Unquestionably this bill is money driven because to obtain a minimum suspension every convicted defendant must have an Interlock. One good thing about the Bill is that Ignition Interlock licenses are available for any license suspensions under the DUI Chapter KRS 189A. This includes pre-trial license suspensions.  Another positive aspect of the Bill is that a person with an Ignition Interlock may operate an employer vehicle which is not equipped with an Ignition Interlock.  There is no  waiting time for these privileges. This is a change from the present  law.

Under the new Bill a person issued an Ignition Interlock license who resides outside of Kentucky may obtain an out of state Ignition Interlock if the providing company, out of state, is authorized to do business in the issuing state and the Interlock device meets the issuing states requirements.  It is hard to believe  Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet will give an out of state licensee a Kentucky Interlock driver’s license.

Affected persons may feel free to contact the author Wilbur M. Zevely at 226 Main Street, PO BOX 6910, Florence, KY, or 859-371-3600. Website:

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Wilbur Zevely

Wilbur Zevely

Wilbur M. Zevely is a partner in the Florence, KY law firm Busald Funk Zevely, PSC. He has practiced law since 1972. He concentrates his practice in criminal law, domestic relations, and DUI cases. He has defended thousands of clients in criminal trials before Judges and juries. He has practiced throughout Kentucky and Southern Ohio. Mr. Zevely received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1968 with a minor in math. His J.D. is from Salmon P. Chase School of Law in 1972. Prior to entering the practice of law, he worked as a chemist for The Monsanto Co., under contract with the United States Atomic Energy Commission. For many years, Mr. Zevely, has lectured on DUI issues for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, (KACDL), the KY Bar Association, the Northern KY Bar Association, and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. He taught for more than 10 years at the week long basic training course at Faubush, KY for the KY Department of Public Advocacy. He writes a regular column on DUI tips for the KACDL news letter. In the early 1970’s Mr. Zevely, incorporated “The 15th Judicial District Public Defender, Inc.,” this was the first State funded Public Defender program in the Northern KY area. Mr. Zevely ran the program for years. The program represented indigent clients in Boone, Gallatin, Grant, Carroll, and Owen Counties. Mr. Zevely along with retired Judge Stanley Billingsley authors the Kentucky Driving Under the Influence Law Book which is a West Law Publication. The book is rewritten annually, and has been published for 19 years. Mr. Zevely has served as director of the KACDL since its formation. Mr. Zevely is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, KACDL, NACDL, and is admitted to practice in Federal Court for the Southern District of Ohio and the Eastern District of Kentucky. Mr. Zevely received the 2014 Distinguished Lawyer award from the Northern Kentucky Bar Association. He also received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement award from the Northern Kentucky Bar Association.

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