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Kentucky Alcohol Laws

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It is legal to purchase alcohol from 6 a.m. to midnight in restaurants, bars, and retail package stores. Alcohol is not sold on Sunday except for restaurants in areas with more lenient local laws.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

You must be 21 to drink in Kentucky, as in all states. You can work in a restaurant serving alcohol at age 20 and as a bartender at age 20. You must be 20 to work in a package store or transport alcohol, although you may sell beer at age 18.

Open Container Laws

Alcohol cannot be consumed in a vehicle by the driver or passengers. Previously opened containers of alcohol must be carried in the car’s trunk.

BAC Limits

The legal limit for blood-alcohol content (BAC) in Kentucky is .08 percent, as it is in all states now. Over this amount, the driver is considered ‘per se intoxicated,’ meaning that DUI charges can be brought on this evidence alone.

A driver testing with a BAC that is .18 percent over the legal limit of .08 percent faces harsher penalties.

To discourage underage drinking, ‘zero tolerance laws’ provide that a driver under the age of 21 with a BAC of .02 percent or more is subject to DUI penalties.


Laws requiring drivers suspected of driving under the influence to concede to breath, blood, or urine testing for alcohol content are known as “implied consent laws.” Refusal carries penalties including mandatory suspension of a driving license for up to a year.

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) removes a driver’s license for 30 days for the first DUI offense, one year for the second offense, and two years for the third offense.

Vehicle confiscation for DUI conviction – either permanently or temporarily – is a penalty option in Kentucky, usually for repeat offenders.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationThe courts can mandate that an ignition interlock device be attached to the vehicle of convicted DUI offenders at the driver’s expense.

Alcohol education, treatment, or assessment for alcohol abuse can be required for DUI offenders.

DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.