As of July 1, if you are arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving in northern Kentucky, you will have a harder time getting your driver’s license back. Changes to the state DUI law have enhanced the length of a driver’s license suspension for a first offense by at least 300 percent.

Now, the minimum driver’s license suspension a judge can impose is four months for a first offense. Under the old law, the rule was a suspended license for 30 to 120 days.

Ignition interlocks allowed: the pluses and minuses

Convicted drivers have a choice: wait out the suspension and find other ways to get around, or pay to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This device works by having you blow into a tube so that it can read the level of alcohol on your breath. If you have alcohol in your system, the device will not let you start your car.

The plus to ignition interlock is that it lets you keep your driving privileges. For many people, their vehicle is the only way they have to get to work or bring their children to school. Losing that independence could be a disaster.

On the other hand, ignition interlocks are expensive. The court orders drivers to pay for installation, maintenance and eventual removal. If the device decides you have blown a bad sample, you will be penalized again, and your sentence could be lengthened. It can also feel like the government is always monitoring you in your vehicle. Besides the breath samples, the device includes a camera to determine who is blowing into it.

Get the information you need

These are the sort of things you have to consider when dealing with a DUI charge. However, in most cases, you have a choice about how to proceed. The best way for you to know what your options are and the practical implications of your decision is to consult a defense attorney who knows the law and has your best interests in mind.