When people in Jackson think about a DUI, the first thought that may come to their mind is someone getting pulled over and arrested, after a night at the bars or even at a family party or a sporting event. In short, a DUI is to their minds something related to alcohol use.
However, Kentucky's laws provide that driving under the influence of any chemical substance, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs illegally obtained, household inhalants like super glue, gasoline and the like and even one's own prescription medicine or over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, can lead to a DUI charge.
With respect to some drugs, our state, in fact, has a per se law similar to its 0.08 blood alcohol content legal limit. Basically, if, after a scientific and reliable drug test, law enforcement officers discover the presence of certain drugs in one's system, the presumption will be that the driver was under the influence of those drugs.
Otherwise, law enforcement officers and prosecutors will have to show that the driver's use of or exposure to chemicals affected his or her ability to operate a vehicle safely. Police will likely rely on their personal observations, and their professional opinion, to make this judgement call. Not surprisingly, the judgement of the police and prosecutors can often be flawed or biased.
The penalties for a DUI related to drugs are the same as the penalties for a DUI related to alcohol. In other words, even a first-time offense can land a Kentucky resident in jail and it will almost certainly result in a license suspension, mandatory treatment and the like.