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Implied Consent Law in Montana

Montana law establishes what is known as “implied consent” for all individuals who are operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in Montana.  The statute stipulates that a person who operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle is considered to have given consent to a test of the person’s blood or breath in order to determine any measured amount or detected presence of alcohol or drugs in the person’s body. An individual is under no obligation to consent to a test if asked. However, they can then be eligible to face automatic punishments for denying the request (please see above Section “Chemical Testing for DUI in Montana” for more details about what punishments are possible for denying an officer-requested test).

While the statute does create an individual’s implied consent to the test, a police officer is still required to inform an individual of that implied consent. Prior to conducting a breathalyzer test, Montana law requires that a police officer inform the individual about the implied consent of the state, that the person has the right to refuse the test, and the penalties incurred for denying the requested test. Also, the punishment for refusing a test under the “implied consent” statute is not a criminal penalty, but is a civil sanction.

An important note to realize is that Montana law stipulates that a person who is unconscious or who is otherwise in a condition that renders the person incapable of refusal does NOT consider that person to have withdrawn the consent to testing. Simply being unable to consent does not imply that the individual withdrew consent and, thus, cannot be used against that individual. That means a person who is found unconscious or blacked-out in a vehicle cannot automatically have their license suspended for the statutory determined time period for “denying” an officer-ordered test.

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