Radcliff DUI Defense Attorneys
Defending the Rights of Our Hardin County Clients
A driving or operating under the influence charge, or DUI, can lead to devastating consequences that will permanently impact your future. You could face heavy fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and significant jailtime.
If you are facing a DUI charge, it is essential you retain legal representation that believes in you and will aggressively defend your rights and future. It can be easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed when charged, and you may even be pressured to admit wrongdoing. Our Radcliff DUI defense lawyers at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples have substantial experience defending drivers throughout northern Kentucky. We can answer all of your questions and work to do whatever it takes to achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
How to Protect Your Rights If You Are Stopped in Kentucky
It is important to remember that you have rights during a traffic stop. If you have been drinking and believe you may test over the legal limit, you should be careful in how you handle being pulled over. You are not required to answer questions an officer may ask you, including where you are coming from, where you are going, and if you have been drinking.
You should always be polite when speaking to the officer to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Being combative with a police officer will make your situation worse and can even lead to additional charges.
It is possible a police officer asks you take a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test to confirm your BAC level. You are not legally obligated to take any test, especially if there is a likelihood you are above the legal limit. Bear in mind that Kentucky’s “implied consent” law stipulates that drivers will take this test when requested. Consequently, refusing to take a BAC test – even if doing so is within your rights – may result in the suspension of your license. Still, in some cases refusing to take a BAC test can be the option with the best possible outcome.
You have the right to speak to legal representation before agreeing or declining to take a BAC test when pulled over. We can give you legal advice on whether or it makes sense to take the test and what the consequences for accepting versus declining might look like.
What Counts as a DUI in Kentucky?
You might think you can only be charged with a DUI if you were actually driving your vehicle at the time of the stop. After all, the state statute specifies that “A person shall not operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle.” Officers in the state of Kentucky get significantly more leeway than the statute’s text may initially apply, however, and can potentially make an arrest even if you were not actively driving.
A Kentucky court will examine several factors when determining if someone’s actions constitute a DUI, including:
- Whether the person in the vehicle was asleep or awake
- Whether or not the vehicle was turned on
- The vehicle’s current whereabouts and how it got there
- The intent of the driver
The facts of the circumstances leading up to a DUI arrest will factor substantially into your court proceedings, as they give law enforcement officers and judges a great deal of discretion when considering a charge. You may still be arrested on a DUI charge if you are asleep and parked, for example. This could happen in a situation where someone is found parked on the side of a major roadway late at night. An officer could ascertain that while the motor is not running and the person behind the wheel is not actively driving, they were likely driving while intoxicated at some point that evening, leading to their present scenario. These sorts of cases are chargeable and prosecutable.
It is important to understand you can also be charged and arrested with a DUI even if you do not complete an officer-ordered BAC test. You will fail such a test if your blood or breath alcohol content level is 0.08 or higher. The test must occur within 2 hours of the driving incident.
As we mentioned above, you are not legally obligated to take any test the officer requests. That could result in the suspension of your license, but an officer does not technically need the BAC results to arrest you. If they have an incriminatory BAC test, they can charge you under Kentucky’s illegal “per se” statute.
Without any hard numbers, officers can only charge you with an “opinion DUI.” As the name would imply, it means that the officer sincerely believes you were driving under the influence based on your behavior and circumstantial evidence. This means that in the ensuing trial, the only evidence available will be the officer’s report of their interactions with you.
There are inherent risks to this strategy: Your license is likely to be suspended until the trial has complete, and you could face even stiffer penalties should you be convicted. However, it is generally much harder to convict someone of a DUI without hard evidence, especially with the assistance of an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Our Radcliff DUI defense attorneys can help build your defense regardless of whether you took the BAC tests.
What Is an Aggravated DUI?
Getting convicted of any DUI charge will result in serious consequences, but getting hit with an aggravated DUI is even worse. A DUI becomes an “aggravated” charge if there were additional circumstances that made the offense more dangerous to others around you. Aggravated DUIs carry especially punitive sentencing and can limit judicial relief options.
The following situations can lead to an aggravated DUI charge in Kentucky:
- The driver travels 30 mph or more over the speed limit
- The driver has a BAC level of 0.15 or greater (note the legal limit is 0.8)
- The driver’s actions result in serious injury or death
- The driver declines to take officer-ordered BAC tests
- The driver travels the wrong way on a limited access hallway
- Children 12 years of age or younger are present in the vehicle at the time of the driving while intoxicated
If you have been charged with an aggravated DUI, you should immediately get in touch with qualified legal representation. Our team can assess the facts of your situation and give you the aggressive defense your case will require.
Penalties for DUI Convictions in Kentucky
You probably already know that DUI convictions carry some of the most severe penalties in the state. The minimum sentences alone are serious, and many prosecutors will press for even harsher consequences. Repeat offenders and those convicted of aggravated DUIs will be subject to increasingly tougher penalties.
If you have previously been convicted of a DUI or of any aggravated DUI charge, you will likely be required to install an “ignition interlock device” – basically, an in-car breathalyzer – at your own expense. It is also worth noting that enforcement of DUI penalties varies by county.
The minimum penalties for being convicted of a DUI in Kentucky include:
- First Non-Aggravated Offense – license suspension of up to 120 days, mandatory alcohol & drug abuse education, court costs and other fines
- First Aggravated Offense – minimum jailtime of 4 days, license suspension of up to 120 days, mandatory alcohol & drug abuse education, court costs and other fines, required installation of ignition interlock device
- Second Offense – minimum jailtime of 7 days, license suspension of up to 18 months, mandatory alcohol & drug abuse education, court costs and other fines, required installation of ignition interlock device; if aggravated, jailtime can be doubled
- Third Offense – minimum jailtime of 30 days, license suspension of up to 3 years, mandatory alcohol & drug abuse education, court costs and other fines, required installation of ignition interlock device; if aggravated, jailtime can be doubled
Remember, these are only minimum sentencing requirements. Many county and state prosecutors and judges act aggressively against DUI offenders and will push for even greater sentences, including significantly more jailtime.
We Can Fight to Help You Avoid the Worst Consequences of a DUI Charge
Facing a DUI charge can be terrifying, especially with the knowledge of the potential consequences. A DUI conviction can lead to your losing your ability to drive and harm future employment opportunities. You may be tempted to take a plea deal should one be offered, but you should never make major decisions in a DUI case without the advice of experienced attorneys. Our Radcliff DUI defense lawyers at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples have a full knowledge of Kentucky’s complex and sometimes confusing DUI laws and are prepared to aggressively defend you. We have over 100 years of legal experience and will do everything possible to protect you and your future.
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