Montana strictly prohibits the offense of driving under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. To encourage motorists to drive sober, the state
uses a range of laws to punish those who do drive after drinking or taking
Drivers in Montana can avoid getting a DUI charge and conviction
by understanding the legal limits for their blood alcohol content levels. They
also can benefit from knowing what penalties that the state metes out for
people convicted of DUI in Montana.
DUI in Montana
Montana has several definitions for the act of driving under
the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. The standard or per
se definition for DUI is having a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 percent
However, the law in Montana also defines DUI as driving
while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also involves driving with an
excessive THC concentration of 5 ng/ml in one’s blood. THC is the psychoactive
ingredient found in marijuana.
Like several states, Montana has a washout or look back
period for DUI of 10 years. Someone who committed and was found guilty of DUI
in Montana or any other state more than 10 years ago cannot have that prior
offense taken into consideration when penalties are devised for the person’s
current DUI charge.
Montana also allows for a DUI to be charged as an aggravated
offense if it meets certain criteria. The requirements for aggravated DUI in
a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher
a DUI while having a suspended or revoked drivers’ license
a DUI while being ordered to use an ignition interlock device or IID
to comply with an officer’s request for a blood, urine or blood sample
a DUI within 10 years of the last DUI conviction
a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle while driving under the
Montana uses different laws to define and punish DUIs for
underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 must have a BAC of lower than
0.02 percent to avoid a DUI charge.
DUI Penalties in Montana
The penalties that a driver faces after being charged with
and found guilty of DUI in Montana depend on the number of prior convictions on
the person’s record. They also depend on the whether or not that the DUI meets
the criteria for an aggravated DUI.
A first-time DUI conviction in Montana garners a fine of
$300 to $1000 and a jail term of 24 hours to six months. A second offense
includes punishments like a jail sentence of seven days to one year and a fine
of $600 to $1000. A third DUI conviction in Montana results in a fine of $1000
to $5000 as well as a jail term of 30 days to one year.
Someone who is convicted of an aggravated DUI in Montana can
face additional penalties. On top of regular DUI punishments, the offender can
pay an additional $1000 fine and serve up to a year in jail.
Underage DUI offenders will not face jail time. However,
they are still subject to civil fines. The fine for driving under the influence
when the motorist is under the age of 21 ranges from $100 to $500 depending on
the age of the driver, his or her BAC level, and the number of prior DUI
arrests on his or her record.
Use of an Ignition Interlock Device or IID
Judges also have the discretion of suspending offenders’ drivers’
licenses for at least six months depending on factors like the number of prior
DUI convictions in the last 10 years and whether or not the DUI met aggravated
criteria. Drivers who have their licenses suspended can request the state to
issue a restricted license during the suspension period, however.
The restricted license will be issued with the agreement
that the offender use an IID on all of his or her vehicles. The IID must be
installed by a state-approved installer at the offender’s expense.
This courtesy is only permitted for offenders who comply with
field sobriety or chemical testing. People who refuse chemical testing under
the state’s implied consent laws may have to use an IID but do not qualify to
have a restricted license issued to them during the suspension period.
Montana forbids the act of driving a motor vehicle after
taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Drivers can face harsh penalties like jail
time and loss of their licenses if they are found guilty of this crime.
Underage drivers likewise can pay expensive fines for
driving under the influence. The state’s implied consent laws require drivers
to provide samples of their breath, urine, or blood as ordered by law
enforcement during traffic stops with probable cause.