An arrest or conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could place you in jail and limit your ability to drive. Under North Dakota DUI laws, you can face charges based on your blood alcohol content or other evidence that you were driving while impaired.
Learn below the specific BAC limits, what happens if your stopped for DUI and if you refuse a BAC test, and the penalties for accumulating DUIs.
North Dakota DUI Laws
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
In North Dakota, the limit – in general – stands at 0.08. Drivers of commercial vehicles face a limit of 0.04. For those under age 21, a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or greater will suffice for a driving under the influence conviction.
Even where a driver does not reach these limits, North Dakota DUI laws still allow an arrest and conviction based on other evidence of impaired driving. These may include field sobriety tests such as the one leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus and walk and turn tests. Medical records, especially following a wreck, can reveal drugs other than alcohol in the driver’s system.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
If you get stopped for driving under the influence, the officer likely will administer a field sobriety test. With this test, the officer evaluates your ability to maintain balance.
On a charge of a second or subsequent DUI, the driver must, as a condition of bond or other pretrial release, abstain from alcohol. Additionally, the driver must enter North Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program, in which a law enforcement agency tests for the presence of alcohol. A positive result of alcohol or refusal to appear for the test results in confinement.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
Under North Dakota DUI laws, licensed drivers give implied consent to submit to a blood alcohol content test. This gives the officer the authority to test you upon reasonable suspicion that you are influenced by alcohol or drugs without first asking you.
You may actually decline the test and the officer will not administer it. As explained below, however, that choice comes with ramifications. Further, with a warrant, the officer may obtain a blood sample.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
By refusing the BAC test, you could lose your driving privileges for up to four years. Also, declining the tests renders you ineligible for a temporary driver’s license, otherwise known as a “work permit.” North Dakota’s “24/7 Sobriety Program” affords participants who have not refused the BAC test or field test and who meet other requirements a path to a temporary permit to attend a job.
In June 2016, the United States Supreme Court in Birchfield v. North Dakota ruled that drivers could not face criminal prosecution for refusing a blood alcohol content test. This effectively struck the state’s law making it a crime to not submit to a BAC.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
In a “wet reckless” plea, the prosecutor agrees for the defendant to admit guilt to reckless driving in lieu of a DUI. As a result, the defendant does not have a conviction for DUI, but instead for reckless driving.
For motorists in North Dakota, a “wet reckless” plea may help them avoid having graduated penalties from accumulating DUI convictions. However, reckless driving is a “Class A” misdemeanor in North Dakota and comes with a maximum one-year imprisonment and a fine of $3,000. As you’ll read below, this is more than the maximum jail time and fines for a first or second DUI.
North Dakota DUI laws do not expressly prohibit a “wet reckless” plea. However, prosecutors may feel pressure from law enforcement and the public to not enter pleas that allow motorists to avoid DUI convictions.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
North Dakota DUI laws impose a mix of fines, imprisonment, license suspensions and rehabilitation for DUI convictions. With repeat offenses come longer times of being in jail and not driving. The monetary penalties also increase.
Expect enhanced punishments where certain circumstances accompany the DUI. Where a minor is a passenger, the time in jail could last one year and fines approach $2,000. You could spend up to five years in jail if the DUI results in injury. Impaired driving that causes death could mean up to 20 years in prison.
First Offense DUI
A first offense of DUI carries at least $500 fine if the blood alcohol content registers below 0.16. Drivers who have a BAC of 0.16 or higher face at least two days in jail and $750 in fines. As a “Class B” misdemeanor, a first offense DUI has a maximum jail time of 30 days and $1,500 fine.
A 91-day license suspension comes to first offenders with a BAC under 0.18. Where the BAC is at least 0.18, the suspension lasts 180 days.
Second offense DUI
North Dakota DUI laws impose a ten-day stint in jail and a $1,500 fine for a second DUI in a seven-year period. License suspensions run 365 days where the BAC falls under 0.18 and two years for a BAC of 0.18 or higher. As with a first offense, a second DUI is a “Class B” misdemeanor that comes with a maximum 30-day imprisonment period and $1,500 fine.
Offenders in this category must participate in the 24/7 Sobriety Program as a condition of the sentence or any probation and undergo evaluation for addiction.
Third Offense DUI
A third DUI conviction constitutes a “Class A” misdemeanor. Punishments can go as high as one year imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.
With a third DUI conviction in a seven years, the typical imprisonment goes to 120 days and the fine becomes $2,000. The offender can’t drive for two years if the BAC is less than 0.18. Drivers who blow or test at 0.18 or higher have a three-year suspension.
These third-time offenders must spend 360 days on probation and in the 24/7 Sobriety Program.
Fourth Offense DUI
Drivers convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI in 15 years can expect to spend at least one year and a day in prison. Fines reach $2,000 at the minimum. With four or more DUIs, the crime is deemed a “Class C” felony and maximum penalties stand at five years and a $10,000 fine.
In addition, probation and participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program lasts two years.
Should you find yourself pulled over for a DUI in North Dakota, consider finding a lawyer in North Dakota. The lawyer can review the facts of your case and your driving record to help protect your rights and find the best possible disposition for you and your continued ability to drive.