One Every Ten Years And You Will Be Safe

DUI Ten Year Look-Back Period


The New Law in KY:

The general public might not be aware that this last Legislative session produced yet another unfair law. Some may believe that people get what they deserve if they drink and drive. However, everyone is still entitled to equal protection under the law.

As you will see in the article below, care of WDRB in Louisville, the issue is whether or not the law can be applied retroactively. The old DUI statute provided for enhanced penalties for each DUI conviction within a 5-year period (commonly referred to as the “look back” period). Defendants relied on that provision when they agreed to plead guilty. This agreement was entered into between the prosecutor and the individual, and accepted by the Court. Now, those same individuals are subject to enhancement for any offense that occurred in a 10 year look-back period.

An Example:

For instance, lets say that Bob is a sophomore at UK. Bob attends a rush party and makes the bad decision to drive home after having a few drinks. This occurs in 2007. That would be Bob’s first offense.

Fast forward to 2016. Bob is a top performer at a sales company. Bob has a wife and three kids. Bob’s  company sponsors a golf scramble and during the reception afterwards, Bob has two drinks over about an hour and a half. Bob leaves, feeling no effects whatsoever from the drinks that he had. On the way home, Bob is stopped for rolling through a stop sign.

From there everything goes downhill. Bob is asked to blow into a portable breath test machine.  Then the officer asks him to submit to a field sobriety test ( in 21 years of practicing DUI defense, I have never seen a person who passed a field sobriety test). Bob is locked up.

Under the old law, because it had been over 5 years since his last conviction,  Bob would be charged with a first offense DUI and be subject to 30 days in jail (which people rarely get), up to a 120 license suspension (which people rarely get), fines and costs and will have to go to DUI school.

Under the new law, the look-back period is 10 years so he will be charged with a 2nd offense, which carries six months in jail with  a mandatory 7 days in jail, a 12 -18 month license suspension, fines and costs and 52 weeks of DUI school.

Obviously, when Bob pled guilty to the DUI in 2007, he did so with the understanding that there would be a 5 year look back period. As he is about to find out, that isn’t so. At least according to some Courts in Kentucky.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — On April 18, a south central Kentucky man appeared before an Adair County judge on what was considered his first drunken driving charge — a misdemeanor violation.

But by the end of his hearing that day, the man’s charge had been upgraded to his fourth such offense, which is a felony in Kentucky and punishable by up to five years in prison.

The 51-year-old man became one of the first defendants in the state to see the effect of a stiffer DUI law that weighs previous drunk-driving offenses from up to a decade. The state’s “look-back” period had been five years until the law changed in April.

As a result, the Adair County judge allowed prosecutors to use three drunken driving convictions from 2006 and 2009 against the man.

“He walked into a courtroom thinking the max punishment he could possibly face was 30 days in jail and instead it’s five years in prison,” the man’s attorney, Samantha Costello, said in an interview. “It’s huge.”

But while the judge in Adair County deemed the new law retroactive, allowing prosecutors to reach back 10 years, other judges in Kentucky have not. They and some defense attorneys say using a decade’s worth of offenses runs counter to what defendants were told in plea bargains for past convictions.

The result is unequal treatment for the same law depending on the judge who hears a DUI case.


This is an Advertisement: If you find yourself faced with a DUI offense in a Central Kentucky Court, consider contacting my office.

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