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Can a first-time Kentucky DUI lead to jail time?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | DWIs

Some defendants facing criminal charges in Kentucky expect a certain degree of lenience from the courts. Those who have never gotten arrested before might expect their prior good behavior to influence how the courts treat them. Those accused of nonviolent offenses may expect a less severe sentence.

Additionally, those who enter a guilty plea as a way of cooperating with the courts may anticipate deriving goodwill from the courts as a result. If the first charge someone faces is a driving under the influence (DUI) charge that does not involve injury to another person, is it realistic to expect the courts to treat them leniently, or is jail time still a possibility?

Sentences must conform to state law

There is only so much discretion left to the courts when sentencing someone. After an individual enters a guilty plea or the courts convict them of an offense, state law determines what penalties the defendant might face.

Some degree of incarceration is standard in modern DUI cases. Even a first DUI conviction can lead to jail time. In general, the state maintains a minimum sentence of at least two days in state custody, but a judge could sentence someone to up to 30 days in jail.

That period of incarceration is in addition to up to $500 in fines, 90 days of alcohol abuse education and up to 120 days without a driver’s license. If someone does not have a DUI on their record from within the last 10 years, then the courts sentence them as though they had no prior offense.

If someone has one prior DUI conviction from within the last decade, the length of their incarceration could increase to between seven days and six months in jail. Those with two or more prior offenses may face even longer incarceration. Drivers concerned about spending time in state facilities may need to look at their options for defending against their pending charges.

Fighting DWI allegations is often more feasible than the average person realizes. Defendants can use health challenges or technical issues with a traffic stop as part of a DUI defense strategy, for example. Those who review the evidence gathered by the state with the assistance of a skilled legal team can decide on the best strategy if they take their case to trial.