Montana First-Offense DUI

The penalties—including fines, jail time, and license suspension—for a first DUI in Montana.

Montana has three types of DUI offenses:

  • driving while under the influence (impaired) by drugs or alcohol
  • driving with an excessive blood alcohol content (BAC) (.08% or more), and
  • driving with excessive THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) concentration (5 ng/ml or more).

In Montana, a DUI is considered a first offense if the person charged has no prior convictions within the last ten years and less than three convictions total. The following are possible outcomes and penalties resulting from a first-offense DUI in Montana.

Criminal Penalties

A first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor and carries fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. However, the specific penalties depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense.

Jail time. Generally, a first-offense DUI can lead to a maximum of six months in jail. Also, an impairment DUI—not excessive BAC or THC offense—conviction requires a minimum of 24 hours in jail.

Fines. A person who's convicted of a first DUI is looking at having to pay a fine of $600 to $1,000. (However, there are lots of other costs of a first DUI conviction.)

Treatment. All persons convicted of DUI must also obtain an alcohol and drug evaluation. For most first-offense DUIs, the offender will be required to take a chemical dependency education course, but treatment can be ordered under certain circumstances. The judge may also order chemical testing such as random drug screens or an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet.

Medical marijuana cards. THC offenders will additionally have any marijuana registry identification card suspended or revoked.

Enhancing Factors

Passenger under 16. For a first offense where there was a passenger in the vehicle who was under 16 years old, the driver faces 48 hours to one year in jail and $1,200 to $2,000 in fines.

Aggravated DUI. A DUI will be elevated to an aggravated DUI if the driver's BAC was .16% or greater (get an estimate of how many drinks it takes) or the driver refused a chemical test, has a pending DUI charge, or currently has a suspended or restricted license due to a DUI. The penalties for an aggravated DUI include 48 hours to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Aggravated DUI with passengers under 16. If the driver with a BAC of at least .16% also had a passenger who was under the age of 16 in the vehicle, the driver faces 72 hours to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Driver's License Suspension and Ignition Interlocks

Generally, a first-time DUI will result in a six-month license suspension. However, the judge may grant the use of a restricted license for travel related to work or health reasons. If the convicted is placed on probation, the driver will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) during the probationary period.

Pursuant to Montana's implied consent laws, all persons who drive in the state are deemed to have consented to a blood- or breath-alcohol test. Depending on the circumstances, this testing requirement might include a roadside or in-station breath test and a blood draw. Drivers who refuse testing will be subject to license suspension and fees. The first time a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, his or her license will be seized and suspended for six months. Drivers who refuse chemical testing are not eligible for a restricted license.

Talk to an Attorney

Montana has some of the toughest penalties for driving under the influence in the country. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence in Montana, it's a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer. A qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best way to handle your situation.

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