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Kentucky Driving and Traffic Laws

When driving in Kentucky, it's important that all motorists follow the state's rules of the road. That way, there's a much lower chance of getting a ticket or, even worse, getting into a car accident. Though it may be difficult to know each and every traffic law that exists in KY, it's easy for drivers to become familiar with many of the basic ones so they can do their best to drive safely.

Driving Under the Influence in Kentucky

One of the most important traffic laws to follow has to do with driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Because intoxicated drivers tend to cause serious accidents, the penalties for driving under the influence in Kentucky are serious.

If you are pulled over in Kentucky and suspected of being intoxicated, the officer can require you to take one or more chemical tests to determine your blood alcohol count (BAC). These tests will involve analyzing your breath, your blood, or your urine. Kentucky has an implied consent law, which means that having a driving license in the state means that you will consent to take these tests if required by an officer. If you refuse the test, you will automatically lose your license for at least 30 days.

Under Kentucky state law, you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your BAC is 0.08 or higher. Because drinking alcohol is prohibited for everyone under the age of 21, drivers in that category can only have a BAC of 0.02 or lower. Commercial drivers will be charged with a DUI if their BAC is 0.04 or higher, and can be suspended from driving for 24 hours if any alcohol at all is found in their system. Finally, anyone can be charged with a DUI even though their BAC is lower than these levels if they show other signs of intoxication, like being unable to walk in a straight line.

If you are convicted of a DUI in Kentucky, you will face mandatory jail time. For first time offenders, this starts at 2 days, and goes up to 120 days for a fourth offense within any 5 year period. In addition, you will face fines, mandatory attendance at an alcohol or substance abuse program, license suspension and possible community service. If at the time you were caught driving under the influence you were going more than 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, driving the wrong way on a highway, had a BAC of .18 or higher, were transporting children under the age of 12, or if you caused an accident where someone died or was seriously injured, your penalties will be even more severe.

Other Kentucky Driving Laws

All children who are at or below 40 inches in height must be in an approved child safety seat whenever they are in a vehicle in Kentucky. Violations of this law will be punished by a $50 fine and a mandatory $10 donation to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund. In addition, everyone in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt. The only exceptions to this law are postal carriers who are on duty and anyone who has a disability or physical condition such that wearing a seat belt is unsafe.

Kentucky takes some offenses very seriously and will suspend your driving license if you break the laws surrounding them. These offenses include but are not limited to: causing an accident where someone is killed, being convicted of reckless driving 3 times in any 12 month period, leaving the scene of an accident without telling the other party who you are, stealing a vehicle, not keeping up your required liability insurance, and not resolving a ticket or court summons. The extent of your license suspension will be determined by a judge in traffic court.

Kentucky does allow right turns on red, as long as there is no posted signage saying otherwise and you stop before you make the turn. Left turns on red are only allowed when you are turning from a one-way street onto another one-way street. Kentucky drivers must always yield to pedestrians, even when there is no traffic light and they are in the crosswalk. Some places in Kentucky utilize roundabouts to help smooth out the flow of traffic. Drivers entering one of these roundabouts must yield to traffic that is already there and only go around the circle counter-clockwise.

If you follow these driving and traffic laws in Kentucky, as well as paying attention to any posted speed limits and other signs, you should be able to avoid most traffic tickets and other moving violations and citations. If you find yourself wanting to know about Kentucky's traffic laws in more detail, contact their Department of Motor Vehicles for that information before you drive in the state.


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