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Admission of Evidence of DUI in Montana

Evidence That May be Admissible

Generally, the law has established that evidence relating to an individual’s DUI related offense can be entered into evidence. However, Montana law has created statutes to explain what kind of evidence can and cannot be entered for DUI related crimes.  Evidence that is able to show a person’s blood alcohol content is admissible. It is important to note that the test may not in itself prove the crime, and there must be other evidence entered to make the state’s case. A report of the facts by the arresting officer is also allowed into evidence.

For individual who are charged with “Driving Under the Influence,” the state is not required to show any blood alcohol concentration for a conviction.  However, the legislature has stated that the BAC levels of an individual charged with “Driving Under the Influence” can be used to make inferences in the following format:

-          An alcohol concentration of 0.04 or less may be inferred that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.

-          An alcohol concentration between 0.041 and 0.079 may not give rise to any inference that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol.

-          An alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more may be inferred that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

These established inferences are simply that, inferences, and may be refuted in court by the individual. Showing the inference switches the burden to the opposite side to refute that inference (for example, a defendant may show that a 0.04 BAC level infers that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol, and then the state must present evidence to refute that inference). In addition, the statutory inferences established in no way limit the state or the individual from providing more evidence.

Should a person refuse one of the tests, the fact that the individual refused the test may also be admissible in court. The fact-finders may infer from that refusal that the individual was under the influence. Again, that inference may be refuted by the individual.

Evidence that May Not be Admissible

While a report of the events is admissible in court, it is faced with some restrictions. For instance, a report that shows an alcohol screening test was conducted and was not certified by a forensic science division may not be admitted. Also, a report that states a blood sample was analyzed by an uncertified lab may not be admitted. In order for a report of blood being drawn to be admissible, it must also be withdrawn from a person who is competent to have blood withdrawn. In other words, blood may not be withdrawn from an incompetent person. Same goes for any report that describes the physical, psychomotor (or a person’s “motor skills”) or physiological state. If the statements are entered by someone who is not trained by his or her respective departments to make the relevant statements in the report, then the report itself will be inadmissible.

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