If a Montana driver has two prior DUIs within a lifetime, a subsequent DUI will be considered a third offense. (Priors are counted differently for determining what qualifies as a first and second offense.) A third DUI conviction is a misdemeanor in Montana and—depending on the circumstances—can carry with it fines, license suspension, jail time, and vehicle forfeiture.
The following are possible outcomes and penalties resulting from a third-offense DUI in Montana. Judges have the discretion to decide a third offender’s sentence within these parameters.
Jail time. A third-offense DUI carries 30 days to one year in jail. After the minimum 30 days of jail time are served, the judge can “suspend” the remainder of the sentence if the convicted motorist completes a chemical dependency treatment program.
Fines. A person who’s convicted of a third DUI in Montana must pay a fine of $2,500 to $5,000.
Treatment. All persons convicted of DUI will need to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation. For most third-offense DUIs, the offender will be required to take a chemical dependency treatment course, which can vary depending on the results of the offender’s evaluation. The judge will also order chemical testing that will likely consist of random drug screens and/or an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet.
Marijuana-related offenses will also result in marijuana registry identification card suspension or revocation.
Passenger under 16. A third offender who had a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle faces 60 days to one year in jail and $5,000 to $10,000 in fines.
Aggravated DUI. A DUI is considered an “aggravated” offense if the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .16% or greater, the driver refused a chemical test, has a pending DUI charge, or currently has a suspended or restricted license because of a DUI. The penalties for an aggravated second DUI include 40 days to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated DUI with passenger under 16. If the third offender with a BAC of at least .16% also had a passenger under 16 years old in the vehicle, he or she faces 90 days to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Generally, a third DUI conviction will result in a one-year license suspension. However, after the motorist completes 90 days of the suspension, the judge can allow the use of a probationary license. With a probationary license, the motorist can drive only for work and health-related purposes. If the convicted is placed on probation or granted a probationary license, the driver will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) during this period. Successful completion of the chemical dependency treatment program is required for license reinstatement.
Montana’s implied consent laws generally all persons who drive in the state and are lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to BAC testing. The required testing, depending on the circumstances, may include a blood draw, an in-station breath test, and a roadside preliminary breath test. Drivers who refuse testing for a third time in five years must pay a $300 fee, face a one-year license suspension, and aren’t eligible for a restricted license.
On the third conviction of a DUI, the judge is also permitted to order that the driver’s vehicles be fitted with an IID or be forfeited completely.
A DUI in Montana can involve serious consequences. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Montana, it’s a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer as soon as possible.