The Montana DUI laws are some of the strictest, as this state takes drinking and driving very seriously. Driving under the influence has many penalties, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. Some circumstances will make the penalties worse, and the penalties get larger with each repeating offense.
A DUI charge can have a serious impact on your life and the lives of others. If you live in Montana, you should become familiar with Montana DUI laws. Knowledge of the laws and limits can prevent you from endangering yourself or others by drinking and driving.
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
According to Montana DUI laws, the BAC limit is 0.08 percent for adults 21 and over. For people under 21, the limit is 0.02 percent. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, the limit is 0.04 percent. However, if you show signs of impairment that indicate DUI, you can be charged even if your BAC is within the legal limit. A BAC of 0.16 percent or more is an aggravated DUI.
What Happens If I Get Pulled Over?
Before stopping a driver, the officer looks for signs of DUI, including swerving, crossing a line, and speeding. During the stop, the officer will observe your behavior to establish probable cause. He or she may ask you to take a field sobriety test, which you can refuse. If you fail a field sobriety test or BAC test, the officer will arrest you for DUI.
The officer will take your license and give you a temporary one. This temporary license goes into effect 12 hours from that moment and remains valid for five days. Then, your driving privileges will be suspended.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
In most situations, a police officer cannot force you to take the BAC test. However, there are consequences to refusing. Like most states, Montana DUI laws include implied consent. When you get your driver’s license, you automatically consent to breath or blood sobriety tests.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
You’ll receive a $300 fine for refusing a BAC test. This money will be used to pay for processing blood draws for DUI cases. You’ll also have your license suspended for six months for your first refusal. For your second and third refusals, your license will be suspended for one year.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
Pleading “wet reckless” lets you plea bargain for a lesser charge. Unlike some states, Montana DUI laws allow you to plea bargain for drunk driving. Reckless driving violation penalties are less severe than DUI penalties and don’t usually include jail time. If you bargain for a reckless driving charge instead of a DUI charge, you may face lesser penalties.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
The penalties for DUI vary from case to case depending on level of intoxication, previous offenses, and other circumstances. However, all DUI cases in Montana have a mandatory fine, license suspension, and jail time. Aggravated DUI cases face more severe penalties.
To reinstate your license, you may have to fulfill certain requirements. This could include paying reinstatement fees, retaking your driver’s test, or completing an alcohol education program. You may also have to install an ignition interlock system in your car when you get your license back. This requires you to take a BAC test before driving.
First Offense DUI
Montana DUI laws are tough, even on the first offense. You will receive 24 hours to six months of jail time and a fine of $600 to $1,000. Your license will also be suspended for six months. If you’re under 21 and get a DUI, your license will be suspended for 90 days. For an aggravated DUI, you’ll face a fine of $1,000 to $2,000.
Penalties double if you drive drunk with a passenger under 16 years old in the car. In this case, you’ll receive 48 hours to one year of jail time and a fine of $1,200 to $2,000.
Second Offense DUI
For your second offense, you’ll face seven days to one year in jail and a $1,200 to $2,000 fine. Your license will be suspended for one year. You may also have to participate in the Montana 24/7 sobriety program, which requires you to take BAC tests throughout the day. If you’re under 21, your license will be suspended for six months.
For an aggravated DUI, you’ll face a fine of $2,500 to $5,000. If you were driving with a passenger under 16, you’ll face 14 days to one year of jail time and a $2,400 to $4,000 fine.
Third Offense DUI
The third DUI offense will bring you a $2,500 to $5,000 fine and 30 days to one year in jail. If you’re under 21, your license will be suspended for one year. For an aggravated DUI, you’ll face a fine of at least $5,000. If there was a passenger under 16 in the vehicle, you’ll receive a fine of $5,000 to $10,000 and a jail sentence of 60 days to one year.
Fourth Offense DUI
Montana DUI laws consider the fourth DUI offense within 10 years a felony. The penalties are a prison term from 13 months to five years without eligibility for parole and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. Depending on the circumstances, the offender may need to take part in a residential alcohol treatment program. The Department of Corrections must approve the program.
The Bottom Line
DUI cases in Montana have serious punishments. All DUI offenses require at least 24 hours of jail time. You’ll also face large fines and license suspension. The penalties become much worse if the DUI is aggravated or if there’s a child in the car. Drinking and driving is never worth it. It risks steep fines, jail time, and danger to yourselves and others.