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Everyone knows that the legal limit for intoxication in Kentucky, and most of the rest of the country, is .08% blood alcohol content (BAC). If police pull you over and give you a test and it comes back below that point, then you are in the clear. Or are you?

The State of Kentucky’s driving under the influence law operates on a provision of “illegal per se.” This means, that if you were given a BAC test up to two hours after you were pulled over, and you test at .07 or .06, it’s possible you can still face charges.

How does that work?

Because the human body processes alcohol at a rate that is more or less constant, it is possible to pull a person over who is legally intoxicated and then later test their blood to show that they are no longer above the legal limit. However, since the law allows the use of this understanding as evidence, a BAC below .08 is no longer a perfect defense.

Are the penalties different?

If you are arrested for drunk driving and are convicted on the per se clause of the law, you will face the same penalties as a person who had a higher BAC level. There is no distinction between just a little buzz and falling down drunk. The penalties you face are:

  • Suspension of license
  • Fines from $200-1000
  • Community labor
  • Jail time

Can I refuse a test?

Simply having control of a vehicle in the state of Kentucky means that you have already consented to take a test if requested. Refusing it doesn’t save you from anything. You still have to take that test, but if you did refuse, you’ll have your license suspended no matter what the outcome is.

Do not test your tolerance

It is common knowledge by now, drinking and driving will get you arrested. If you think you may have anywhere near the legal limit, find an alternate way home. The law has no tolerance for guesswork.