Kentucky New Resident Guide

Welcome to the Bluegrass State – Kentucky! As you take to the roads here, it's essential to get acquainted with Kentucky's specific traffic regulations and driving practices. This quick guide is intended to help you navigate through Kentucky's diverse environments, from its famous horse farms and rolling hills to the vibrant city life of Louisville and Lexington. While you may find that many driving rules are similar to those in other states, being aware of the nuances that are unique to Kentucky driving can greatly enhance your safety and enjoyment on the road.


Fix your ticket now

Select a state for pricing and details:

Licensing and Residency Requirements


  • Whenever a licensee's address or name is changed from that which appears on a license, the licensee must apply for a corrected license within 10 days of the change.
  • A person who purchases a vehicle or brings a vehicle from another state is required to title the vehicle(s) within 15 days.
  • Persons moving into Kentucky have 30 days to obtain a Kentucky driver's license.

Graduated Licensing Program


Learner's Permit


  • Must be 16 years of age;
  • Must pass written and vision test;
  • Must not be identified for academic deficiency, have 9 or more unexcused absences from school, or have dropped out of school.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unless supervised by a person 21 years of age or older, or a driving instructor on a driver training range;
  • May not drive between midnight and 6 AM;
  • May only have 1 unrelated passenger under 20 years of age;
  • If a permit holder receives a moving violation, they must restart the 6-month permit waiting period.


Intermediate License


  • Must have held learner's permit for 6 months;
  • Must accumulate 60 hours of parental/guardian certified driving, 10 of which must be at night;
  • Must pass drive test;
  • Must not be identified for academic deficiency, have 9 or more unexcused absences from school, or have dropped out of school.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive between midnight and 6 AM unless they can demonstrate "good cause" for driving such as emergencies or participation in school or work activities;
  • May only have 1 unrelated passenger under 20 years of age.


Unrestricted License


  • Must have held an intermediate license for 6 months.
  • Must have completed one of the following New Driver Education Programs while holding their permit or intermediate license.
    • Graduated License Course (Free 4-hour course provided by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in the driver's home county);
    • High School Drivers Education Course or a similar course offered by a Kentucky Community College, Vocational School or Job Corps;
    • Private Driver Training course at a Division of Driver License approved driver training school.

Violation Point Counts


6 Point Violations

  • 16-25 mph over speed limit on any road or highway
  • Commission of Moving Hazardous Violation Involving an Accident
  • Combination of any Two or More Moving Hazardous Violations in Any One Continuous Occurrence
  • Failure to Stop for School or Church Bus


5 Point Violations

  • Improper Passing


4 Point Violations

  • Reckless Driving
  • Following Too Closely
  • Driving on Wrong Side of Roadway
  • Changing Drivers in a Moving Vehicle
  • Vehicle Not Under Control
  • Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle


3 Point Violations

  • 11-15 mph over speed limit on limited access highway
  • 15 mph or less over the speed limit on any non-limited access highway
  • 15 mph over speed limit in CMV (commercial motor vehicle)
  • Stop Violation (electric signal, railroad crossing, stop sign)
  • Failure to Yield
  • Wrong Way on One-Way Street
  • Too Fast for Conditions
  • Too Slow for Conditions
  • Improper Driving
  • Improper Start
  • Improper Turn
  • Failure to Illuminate Headlights
  • Careless Driving
  • Failure to Dim Headlights
  • Improper Lane Usage
  • Improper Use Left Lane/Limited Access Highway
  • Failure to comply with Instructional Permit Requirements/Regulations
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to Funeral Procession
  • Any Other Moving Hazardous Violations
  • Texting while driving


How Long Points Stay on Record

Points assessed under the Kentucky Point System expire two years from the date of conviction. However, the conviction entry remains part of the driver's record for five years from the conviction date.

The Transportation Cabinet conducts a hearing concerning the driver's privileges to operate a motor vehicle upon the accumulation of:

  • twelve or more points against a driver age eighteen or older
  • 7 points against a driver under age 18

Failure to appear for the hearing results in a driving suspension for a period of:

  • Six months for the first such accumulation of twelve points
  • One year for the second such accumulation of twelve points
  • two years for any subsequent accumulation of twelve points within the two years.

After a hearing, the department may require the driver to be placed on "probation" instead of suspension and attend a driver improvement clinic (State Traffic School) approved by the Transportation Cabinet. Once a driver has been placed on "probation" by the department, he/she shall not be considered for probation again until a lapse of two years from the ending date of any previous probation period granted, whether served or not.

Insurance Requirements


  • An owner may not operate a vehicle in Kentucky until insurance has been obtained.
  • An owner who fails to maintain insurance on his vehicle shall have his vehicle registration revoked according to statute. In addition, the vehicle owner as well as the vehicle driver is subject to a fine of $500 to $1000, up to 90 days in jail, or both.
  • All owners of motor vehicles in Kentucky are required to carry minimum liability coverage.
    • This means liability coverage of $25,000 for all claims for bodily injury damages sustained by any one person and not less than $50.000 for all bodily injury damages sustained by all persons as a result of any one accident, as well as $10,000 for all property damage as a result of any one accident.
    • Alternatively, a policy with a single limit of $60,000 is acceptable.
    • In addition, the policy must provide basic reparations benefits, unless the insured vehicle is a motorcycle.

Headlight Laws


You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise.
  • Any other time visibility is low.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.

Implied Consent Laws


  • First offense (within 5 years) - Not less than 30 days or more than 120 days
  • Second offense (within 5 years) - Not less than 12 months or more than 18 months
  • Third offense (within 5 years) - Not less than 24 months or more than 36 months
  • Fourth or subsequent offense (within 5 years) - 60 months
  • If a person is NOT convicted of a drunk-driving offense but refused to submit to a chemical test under the implied consent law, that person is subject to the same administrative licensing sanctions as if they had been convicted of such offense.
  • The court shall suspend the license of a person who refuses during the pending of the action.

DUI Penalties


First Offense (within 5 years)

  • 48 hours - 30 days imprisonment;
  • $200 - $500 fine;
  • 48 hours - 30 days of community service;
  • 30 - 120 days license revocation or suspension;
  • 90-day alcohol education or treatment program;
  • 6 months ignition interlock.


Second Offense (within 5 years)

  • 7 days - 6 months imprisonment;
  • $350 - $500 fine;
  • 10 days - 6 months of community service;
  • 12 - 18 months license revocation or suspension;
  • 1-year alcohol education or treatment program;
  • 12-month ignition interlock.


Third Offense (within 5 years)

  • 30 days - 12 months imprisonment;
  • $500 - $1,000 fine;
  • 10 days - 12 months of community service;
  • 24 - 36 months license revocation or suspension;
  • 1-year alcohol education or treatment program;
  • 30-month ignition interlock.


Fourth and Subsequent Offense (within 5 years - Class D felony)

  • 120 days - 5 years imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $10,000;
  • 60 months license revocation or suspension;
  • 1-year alcohol education or treatment program<./li>


Enhanced Mandatory Incarceration

Applies if:

  • Driving >30 mph over the speed limit;
  • driving in the wrong direction on a limited-access highway;
  • causing an accident that resulted in either a death or a serious physical injury;
  • driving with a BAC greater than or equal to .15;
  • refusing to submit to a chemical test under the implied consent law;
  • transporting a child under 12.

Length of time:

  • First Offense - 4 days.
  • Second Offense - 14 days.
  • Third Offense - 60 days.
  • Fourth or Subsequent Offense - 240 days.

Open Container Law


The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.

Red Light Violation Fines


Kentucky does not have a state law governing red light violation fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.

Construction Zone Penalties


Speeding violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.

Turn Signal Information


Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.

Hazard Light Information


Hazard light use is permitted to warn other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.

Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws


  • A funeral procession has right of way at intersections if the escort vehicle displays flashing red, yellow, or blue lights, and each vehicle exercises due care.
  • Processions must yield to emergency vehicles, trains, or when directed otherwise by a police officer.
  • Other vehicles cannot drive between, interfere with, or pass the procession unless directed by a police officer.

School Bus Laws



  • Vehicles are required to stop unless approaching the bus from the opposite direction upon a highway of 4 or more lanes.



  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $100 - $200 fine, 30 - 60 days imprisonment, or both. In addition, a minimum of 6 points will be assessed against the driver's record.

Bicyclist Passing Distance


There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.

Motorcycle Laws



  • Any person who already possesses a valid intermediate driver's license, or who is at least 18 years old, may apply for an instruction permit to operate a motorcycle. A motorcycle instruction permit is valid for 1 year.
  • An applicant for a motorcycle license must pass a roadside demonstration test.
  • Motorcycle rider training courses are provided free of charge to applicants under 18 years of age.
  • Successful completion of an approved rider training course, which includes a minimum of 8 hours of hands-on instruction, permits exemption from the licensing skill test for motorcycle license applicants.


Protective Gear

  • All persons operating a motorcycle must wear protective eye gear and any rider under the age of 21, or any person operating a motorcycle with an instruction permit, or any person who has held a motorcycle license for less than 1 year must wear a safety helmet. Riders 21 and older may ride without a helmet if they can provide proof of a medical insurance policy.



  • Daytime use of headlight not required.


Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is not addressed in state law.

Using the Shoulder to Pass


You may not pass a left-turning vehicle on the right by driving off the roadway unless you bring your vehicle to a complete stop and such movement may be made safely.

Passing Laws


Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.


When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.

Speed Limits


  • 70 mph on certain interstate highways and parkways;
  • 65 mph on interstate highways and divided highways with four or more lanes;
  • 55 mph on all other State highways;
  • 35 mph in business or residential districts;
  • 15 mph on off-street parking facilities.

Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws


Safety Belts

  • Occupants 6 and younger who are more than 50 inches tall, and occupants who are 7 and older, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.


Child Seats

  • Children who are 40 inches or less must be in a child restraint.
  • Children 6 and younger who are between 40 and 50 inches must be in a booster seat.
  • Children 6 and younger who are taller than 50 inches must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a child restraint violation is $50.
  • The fine for a booster seat violation is $30.

Emergency Vehicle Laws


Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle
    • Public safety vehicle
  • You must do the following:
    • If driving on a highway having at least four lanes with not fewer than two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, and it is possible to make a lane change with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, move to a lane not adjacent to the vehicle.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, maintaining a safe speed to road conditions.



  • Do not follow any emergency vehicle operating lights and/or sirens closer than 500 feet, or drive or park within 500 feet of where the emergency vehicle has stopped in answer to an emergency alarm.


Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled
  • Render assistance:
    • Ascertain the extent of injury or damage
    • Assist any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • If the accident has resulted in injury, or death, or has made a vehicle inoperable, notify the nearest police department immediately. If the driver is unable to do so, any other occupant of the vehicle who can, or the owner of the vehicle, must do so.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Names and addresses of owner, occupants, and operator
    • Vehicle registration number
    • Insurance information for the vehicle
  • If the accident does not involve death, known or visible injury, or the transportation of hazardous material, you must move the vehicle off the roadway as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic
  • If you have collided with a vehicle or other property that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the name and address of the driver and owner, and the registration number of the vehicle. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information, or file a report with the local police department.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, and is not investigated by a law enforcement officer, you must file a written report with the Department of Kentucky State Police within 10 days.