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DUI Penalties for Montana

The penalties for each of the offenses varies based on a number of factors. A detailed account will be provided for both “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” and “Driving Under the Influence.” In addition, there are some added penalties that can be issued by the court for a conviction of either of the above offenses. The following punishments take into account only individuals 21 years of age or older.  For a detailed account for individuals under the age of 21, see discussion below.

Misdemeanor Penalties for “Driving Under the Influence”

Montana law establishes the basic punishments for an individual who has violated the “Driving Under the Influence” offense.  The statute breaks the offense down based on (1) the number of previous convictions for “Driving Under the Influence,” and (2) if any passengers in the vehicle are under the age of 16. With each of these punishments, the judge does have the ability to suspend the imprisonment for up to one year if the individual convicted successfully completes a certified treatment or educational program, which would be ordered by the court.

First “Driving Under the Influence” Offense

-          No less than 1 day and no more than 6 months imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $300 and no more than $1,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Second “Driving Under the Influence” Offense

-          No less than 7 days and no more than 6 months imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $600 and no more than $1,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Third “Driving Under the Influence” Offense

-          No less than 30 days and no more than 12 months imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Misdemeanor Penalties for “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration”

Montana law also establishes the basic punishments for an individual who has violated the “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” statute. Like “Driving Under the Influence,” the statute breaks the offense down based on (1) the number of previous convictions and (2) if any passengers in the vehicle are under the age of 16.. In addition, the judge has the same ability as in “Driving Under the Influence” to suspend the imprisonment for up to one year if the individual convicted successfully completes a certified treatment or educational program, which would be ordered by the court.

First “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration”

-          No less than 10 days of imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $300 and no more than $1,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Second “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” Offense

-          No less than 5 days and no more than 30 days imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $600 and no more than $1,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Third “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration”

-          No less than 10 days and no more than 6 months imprisonment.

-          Fined no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000.

-          Maximum/Minimum imprisonment and fines DOUBLED if at least one passenger is under the age of 16 at the time of the offense.

Felony Penalties for “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration”

If an individual meets the requirements, multiple DUI offenses can be used against the individual to charge him or her with a felony. Felony penalties for “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” and “Driving Under the Influence” apply as a unified statute.  This statute applies if you are charged with either “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” or “Driving Under the Influence” and one of the following is also true:

(1)    You have a single conviction of “Vehicular Homicide While Under the Influence” (Mont. Code 45-5-106); Or

(2)   Any combination of three prior charges of:

  1. “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration”;
  2. “Driving Under the Influence”;
  3. “Negligent Homicide” (Mont. Code 45-5-104) while the person was operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both; OR
  4. “Negligent Vehicular Assault” (Mont. Code  45-5-205)

If all of the above elements are met, a person will be charged with a felony and will face the following punishment:

Felony Offense

-          Sentencing to a correctional facility or program for 13 months.

  • However, with the completion of an alcohol treatment program, the remainder of the 13 month sentence must be served as probation.

-          5 years imprisonment, all of which must be suspended to run consecutively to the term imposed with the above 13 month program.

-          Fine in an amount no less than $ 1,000 and no more than $ 10,000.

-          Discretion of the sentencing judge to impose additional punishments, including:

  • More fines;
  • Court costs;
  • Community services; OR
  • Any other reasonable restriction for rehabilitation;

Additional Penalties

Because of the severity of DUI related crimes, the state has added additional penalties (on top of the traditional imprisonment time, probation, and fines) to impose on individuals who break the DUI related offenses. In addition to the above statutes, a defendant who is convicted of “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” or “Driving Under the Influence” is also required to participate in other restrictions set out by the state of Montana, including the following:

Assessment, Education, and Treatment

Montana law requires that, in addition to the punishments above, a person is required to complete the following:

-          A Chemical Dependency Assessment;

-          A Chemical Dependency Education course; AND

-          Chemical Dependency Treatment on a second or subsequent conviction of “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” or “Driving Under the Influence”

The chemical dependency assessment and the chemical dependency education course must be completed at a treatment program approved by the department of public health and human services of Montana. In some instances, the sentencing judge may require an individual to complete a chemical dependency assessment before any other sentence is imposed.

In addition, the treatment imposed on the individual may vary based on the individual’s alcohol or drug problem.  The determination of that problem is decided by a licensed addiction counselor.

Forfeiture of Vehicle and Interlock Device

Montana law also establishes that an interlock device be installed in an individual’s vehicle, as well as the possible forfeiture of that individual’s vehicle. A more detailed look on interlock devices will be discussed below. Conviction of “Driving with Excessive Alcohol Concentration” or “Driving Under the Influence” includes the following restrictions:

First Offense

-          The court may restrict the individual to driving only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device; AND

-          Require the individual to pay the reasonable cost of installing and maintaining the interlock device;

 

Second Offense

-          If the court recommends that a probationary license may be issued to the individual,  then the individual must only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device; OR

-          Order that each motor vehicle owned by the person at the time of the offense be seized;

There is a slight exception to a court imposing the forfeiture of a vehicle or the installation of an interlock device. If the vehicle is used by a person for business related purposes (such as a bus), that vehicle is not subject to forfeiture unless it appears that the owner or other individuals in charge of the vehicle consented to or in some way knew of the violation.


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