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What is a DUI in Montana?

In the State of Montana, Driving Under Influence (DUI) refers to the offense of controlling a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or substances that may cause impairment. DUIs are criminal traffic violations that are handled by the Montana Judicial Branch. Traffic violations are also generally under the purview of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT).

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in Montana?

First time DUI in Montana is a misdemeanor that carries possible punishments like jail time, fines, and license suspension. The court could sentence an offender to jail for up to six months and impose a fine between $300 to $1000, alongside other litigation charges. Following a first violation, the MDT may suspend the motorist’s license for up to half a year. First-time offenders may also be mandated to complete an alcohol education program. The MDT typically issues a restricted license for first-time offenders given that they make use of an ignition interlock device. Penalties for a first time DUI may become harsher if any aggravating factor occurs. A DUI with a passenger under sixteen years of age may result in imprisonment for two days to a year. It also carries a $1200 to $2000 fine. Upon notice of the right to a hearing, most drivers typically contest DUI charges within thirty days. The appeals are made in the District Court within the county that the DUI ticket was issued.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Montana?

Following a first DUI in Montana, the offender may be penalized with a jail sentence. Montanas DUI statutes classify first-time violations as a misdemeanor that attracts a possible jail term of at least twenty-four hours and at most six months. A fine from $600 to $1000 may also be imposed.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Montana?

DUI convictions in Montana usually attract the following penalties:

  • Jail Sentence: There is a mandatory jail sentence for DUI convictions in Montana. A first offense warrants a one-day minimum jail time and a six-month maximum sentence. A second offense is punishable by jail time of five days to a year, while a third offense results in at least thirty days’ imprisonment.
  • Fines: The court may penalize persons convicted of DUI by ordering them to pay some money. A first-time offender may pay a fine of $600 to $1000 while another subsequent violation attracts a minimum of $1200, which may go up to $2000. A third DUI warrants payment of fines between $2500 to $5000.
  • License Suspension: Upon a DUI conviction, the Montana Department of Transportation may impose penalties that affect an offender’s driving privileges. Drivers may lose their license for six months after a first violation. Subsequent DUI convictions carry a year suspension of the offender’s license.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: The court may order the use of IID to ensure that offenders with a probationary license cannot be in actual control of a vehicle while under the influence of liquor or drugs.
  • Alcohol or chemical dependency education: Motorists found guilty of DUI may be required to attend a dependency education course. Usually, this is a requirement for the reinstatement of a revoked license.
  • Vehicle forfeiture: Following a third or subsequent DUI conviction, the state may impound the offender’s vehicle.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Montana?

In Montana, DUI points typically remain on an individual’s record for five years, but the convictions stay on the record indefinitely. However, persons with a misdemeanor DUI conviction may be able to have it expunged under Title 46, Chapter 18, Part 11. There must be a five-year gap since the DUI sentence was completed, and the offender must not have any federal or state conviction during this period. To request an expungement, eligible persons typically file a petition at the District Court where the DUI case was filed. More information on the expungement process is available on the Conviction Expungement Process page.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Operating independently of any state entity, these websites often make searching simpler. Such sites are not limited by geographic location and offer flexible search options that may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Montana?

Montana state statute outlaws police officers from conducting DUI checkpoints. Generally, DUI checkpoints are set up to scrutinize drivers and identify those operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or liquor. Although law officers cannot set up DUI checkpoints, they may pull over drivers they suspect driving under the influence of intoxicants. Under Section 61–8–402, there is an implied consent by drivers to test their breath or blood for the aim of measuring their blood alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs in their body.

What is an Aggravated DUI in Montana?

An aggravated DUI in Montana occurs when a person violates the state DUI laws in combination with any or more than one of the following factors:

  • Upon test of the individual’s breath and blood, the BAC level is 0.16 percent or higher
  • There is a court order that directs the offender to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle
  • If prior to the incident, the court or MDT has totally or partially withdrawn the offender’s license due to prior traffic violations
  • If the driver refuses to submit for a blood alcohol concentration test
  • Prior DUI convictions within ten years of the recent offense

What Happens When You Get a DUI in Montana?

A DUI in Montana is a misdemeanor violation. There is a mandatory jail sentence penalty and also payment of fines. Usually, the severity of the penalties depends on certain factors like the damages incurred from the incident or prior DUI convictions. Offenders may also lose their driving license for a certain period, or the MDT may issue a restricted license. However, individuals issued DUI tickets have the right to appeal in court. The state laws generally require interested individuals to file a petition contesting DUI charges within thirty days.

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