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Two new Kentucky laws raise the stakes for some DUI offenses

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you’re facing charges related to a DUI crash here in Kentucky where someone was killed, you could be looking at serious jail time. Just this spring, Gov. Andy Beshear signed a law that made this a Class B felony. 

In June, Gov. Beshear signed another law (“Melanie’s Law”) that raises the stakes even more. It allows judges to order someone convicted of causing the “death or permanent disability” of a child’s parent or guardian while driving under the influence to pay restitution to care for that child (or children). The law was named for a woman who suffered catastrophic injuries in a crash caused by a drunk driver.

What is considered when determining the amount of restitution?

Under the new law, a judge would order that restitution at the time of sentencing. The amount of restitution ordered is up to the judge. They’re required to consider a number of factors similar to those considered in child support cases. These include:

  • The child’s financial needs, including child care and educational expenses, and current resources
  • The surviving parent or guardian’s financial needs/resources
  • The custody arrangements for the child
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the crash
  • The child’s emotional and physical condition

This support is required until the child turns 18 – unless they’re still in high school at that time. Then it can extend to their 19th birthday.

When do payments begin?

If someone is sentenced to jail time, they don’t have to begin making payments until a year after their release. They’re made through the court so that there doesn’t have to be any direct contact between the parties involved.

In signing the law, Gov. Beshear said, “We hope this bill will deter individuals from driving under the influence and will better support children who are victims of this crime.”

As noted, both of these laws raise the stakes for those charged with a DUI offense that involves the serious injury or death of another driver or passenger. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to get experienced legal guidance as quickly as possible to protect your rights and present your case.