Kentucky Driver’s License Suspension

General Information

When a Kentucky driver’s license is suspended, cancelled, or revoked, the driver must surrender his or her license to the Transportation Cabinet upon demand. KRS 186.610(4). A person whose operator’s license has been suspended, cancelled, or revoked may not operate any motor vehicle upon the highways while the license is suspended, cancelled, or revoked. KRS 186.620(2). Failure to surrender a driver’s license and driving on a suspended license are Class B misdemeanors. KRS 186.990(3).

Mandatory License Suspension

According to KRS 186.560(1), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet must revoke the driver’s license following conviction for:

  1. Repeated Driving without Insurance – failure to have security in full force and effect for a second or subsequent time within 5 years
  2. Driving without a License – operating a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped without an operator’s license
  3. Fake ID – fraudulent use of a driver’s license including to purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages
  4. Lying to Obtain License – Perjury or making a false affidavit under any law pertaining to an operator’s license
  5. Repeated Reckless Driving – 3 charges of reckless driving within the preceding 12 months
  6. Hit and Run – Driving a motor vehicle involved in an accident and failing to stop and disclose identity at the scene of the accident
  7. Non-Motor Vehicle DUI – driving a vehicle which is not a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any other substance which may impair one’s driving ability
  8. Felony Involving Vehicle – Any felony in which a motor vehicle was used in the commission of the felony
  9. Homicide Involving Vehicle – Murder or manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle
  10. Grand Theft Auto – Theft of a motor vehicle or any of its parts

Under the statute, license revocation for such convictions shall be for at least 6 months. KRS 186.560(5). The Court takes the driver’s license upon conviction and forwards it to the Transportation Cabinet. KRS 186.550(2). After the period of suspension or revocation, the Cabinet may return the license to the driver after he or she has compiled with all reinstatement requirements. KRS 186.570(7).

Potential License Suspension

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet may suspend or revoke the driver’s license if the driver:

  1. Accumulates Too Many Driving Points – is a habitually reckless or negligent driver or has committed a serious violation of the motor vehicle laws. KRS 186.570(1)
  2. Falsifies Info to Obtain License – Has presented false or misleading information as to residency, citizenship, religious convictions, or immigration status. KRS 186.570(1)
  3. Drops Out of High School – is under 18 years old and has dropped out of school or is academically deficient. KRS 186.560(7)
  4. Fails to Appear Following Summons – failed to appear pursuant to a citation or summons issued by a law enforcement officer. KRS 186.570(1)
  5. Fails to Pay Child Support – has a child support arrearage which equals or exceeds that which would be owed after 6 months of nonpayment. KRS 186.570(2)
  6. Fails to Comply with Child Support Proceeding – has failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings after receiving appropriate notice. KRS 186.570(2)
  7. Fails to Comply with Financial Responsibility Law – has failed to satisfy an auto-related judgment within 60 days. See KRS 187.400 & KRS 187.410
  8. Has a Disability – has a mental or physical disability that makes it unsafe for him or her to drive upon the highways. KRS 186.570(1)
  9. Commits Assault and Battery Involving Vehicle – was convicted of assault and battery resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle. KRS 186.570(1)
  10. Caused Death, Injury, or Property Damage Involving Vehicle – has, by reckless or unlawful operation of a motor vehicle, causes or contributed to an accident resulting in death, injury, or serious property damage. KRS 186.570(1)

License suspension for these reasons is ordinarily 6 months. The exception is if the driver had a previous conviction of one of the mandatory revocation offenses, in which case the suspension is for 1 year or 2 years. See KRS 186.560(5). The driver’s license may be reinstated after the driver has complied with the fees and other procedures of the Transportation Cabinet. KRS 186.560(6).

Driver’s License Points System
The Kentucky Driver’s License Points System is intended to identify habitually reckless or negligent drivers and possibly suspend them of their driving privilege. A licensed driver starts with 0 points but accumulates points following convictions for speeding offenses and moving offenses. See Kentucky Traffic Offenses and Penalties to see how many points are assessed for common Kentucky traffic offenses.

If the driver pays the fine and/or court costs or is otherwise found guilty of the traffic offense, the District Court informs the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Division of Driver Licensing. This division assesses the points and usually shares such information with the auto insurance companies. Upon the accumulation of 12 points (or 7 points if the driver is under age 18) within a 2-year period, a driver’s license may be suspended. 601 KAR 13:025 § 6(1)(a). Points assessed expire 2 years from the date of conviction. However, the conviction remains part of the 5-year driving record (used by law enforcement, courts, and government agencies) or 10-year driving record for a commercial driver’s license.

License suspension for the accumulation of too many points is ordinarily 6 months. The exception is if the driver had a previous conviction of one of the mandatory revocation offenses, in which case the suspension is for 1 year or 2 years. See KRS 186.560(5). The driver’s license may be reinstated after the driver has complied with the fees and other procedures of the Transportation Cabinet. KRS 186.560(6).

Purpose/Necessity

Driving is a daily activity for most Americans. Except for those who live in dense urban areas, most individuals require a vehicle and a driver’s license to go wherever they need to go whenever they need to leave. License suspension may seriously impact an individual’s ability to get to school or work, transport children and those who no longer drive, see friends or family, etc.

Any person subject to suspension, revocation, or withdrawal of their driving privileges is provided the opportunity for a hearing before such action is taken. The driver should receive written notice that a hearing may be scheduled and must request a hearing within 20 days after the notice was mailed. If the driver does not request the hearing, it will be waived, and the Transportation Cabinet will make its suspension decision without input from the driver. KRS 186.570(4).

An attorney may assist a driver in avoiding a conviction for an offense that causes immediate suspension or license points that may lead to suspension. If an attorney was not utilized for the traffic charge or the driver was otherwise found guilty, an attorney may argue against suspension at the Transportation Cabinet suspension hearing. If suspension is issued after the hearing, an attorney may appeal the decision and another hearing will be held.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • May a Kentucky driver’s license be suspended for out-of-state traffic violations?
    • Yes. A Kentucky driver’s license may be suspended for an out-of-state conviction that would have led to a suspension if committed in Kentucky. This includes driving without insurance, driving without a license, and moving offenses such as reckless driving, hit and run, and racing.Kentucky is a member of both of the major interstate driving compacts – the Driver’s License Compact (DLC) and the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) – in which states share information on traffic convictions. If you pay the fine and/or court costs for the out-of-state ticket or are otherwise found guilty, you will receive the same amount of points on your license you would have received had the offense been committed in Kentucky. Upon accumulating 12 points within 2 years, a driver’s license may be suspended. In addition, if you are found guilty but fail to pay the fine and/or court costs in the other state, your Kentucky license may be suspended. However, points will not be assessed and a license will not be suspended for out-of-state speeding convictions. KRS 186.570(6).
  • May a license be suspended be suspended for failure to attend or complete traffic school?
    • Yes. Once a driver is referred to state traffic school by the District Court, it becomes a court order. Failure to compete traffic school may result in license suspension until the course is completed. KRS 186.574(3). If traffic school is ordered as part of a driver’s license probation period, failure to successfully complete traffic school will result in license suspension. 601 KAR 13:025 § 8 (3)(b).
  • May a license be suspended for refusal to submit to a DUI breathalyzer test?
    • Yes. Under Kentucky law (KRS 189A.103), a person who operates or is in physical control of a motor vehicle automatically agrees to one or more tests of blood, breath, or urine to determine alcohol concentration in their body. This is known as the implied consent provision of the DUI statute. Failure to submit to a test leads to an automatic license suspension of 30 to 120 days for the first offense.
  • May a license be suspended for old age?
    • No law mandates that an individual must stop driving at a particular age. However, under KRS 186.570(1)(c), a person’s driver’s license may be suspended if the Transportation Cabinet has a reason to believe that the person has a mental or physical disability that makes it unsafe for him or her to drive upon the highways.The fact is that individuals of any age may experience conditions which diminish their vision, worsen their hearing, or slow their reflexes. If sufficiently debilitating, such drivers should not be on the road. However, before a license may be suspended an individual has a legal right to an administrative hearing. KRS 186.570(4). During the hearing, medical testing may be discussed or ordered to determine the extent of the disability. The driver and his or her attorney may discuss corrective measures that may be taken by the driver to ensure continued safe driving as well as options short of full license suspension.
  • What happens if I receive a letter from the Transportation Cabinet about how many driver’s license points I have?
    • If a driver receives 6 or more points within 2 years, the Transportation Cabinet may send a letter to inform the driver of the points assessed and penalties which may be imposed if 12 points are accumulated within 2 years. 601 KAR 13:025 § 5(1). Essentially the same letter is sent to a driver under 18 upon the accumulation of 4 or more points.No suspension will be taken unless more points are assessed. Thus, a driver should be extra cautious to avoid any further tickets. If another ticket is issued, the driver should contact an attorney to determine whether a conviction and resulting points may be avoided.
  • What happens if I receive a letter from the Transportation Cabinet about a license suspension hearing?
    • The Transportation Cabinet sends such letters when a driver receives enough points to subject him or her to license suspension (12 if an adult driver; 7 if a driver under age eighteen).The driver’s license will be suspended unless the driver and his or her attorney successfully convince the hearing officer to grant probation instead. Thus, the driver should contact an attorney to help retain his or her driving privilege.
  • What happens if the Transportation Cabinet suspends my driver’s license?
    • If your license is suspended by the Transportation Cabinet, you will be informed of the period of suspension and what actions are required for reinstatement. Once the suspension period concludes, a reinstatement hearing is usually required where the driver will be asked questions about his or her driving record and driving habits. A driver may then apply for reinstatement and pay a $40 fee, which may be done online.

Legal Services Offered and Cost

Representation Prior to and During Driver’s License Suspension Hearing

Please note that this representation is intended only for a driver who has accumulated enough points to subject him or her to license suspension (12 if the driver is 18 or older; 7 if the driver is under 18).

Legal fees: hourly rate
Filing fees and other costs: none
This includes:

  1. Review of client’s information to ensure eligibility for and benefit of suspension hearing
  2. Review client’s driving record, determine arguments to make, and prepare client for license suspension hearing
  3. Attend license suspension hearing with client and argue for probation before hearing officer
  4. Advise client regarding results of hearing: probation terms, suspension terms, appeal possibilities, etc.
  5. Potential appeal of suspension decision, if necessary

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