A DUI is a very serious offense that can cause a number of negative repercussions in your life. Not only will a DUI conviction increase your insurance rates and hurt your social and professional reputation, it also restricts your ability to drive.
In this post, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about having your driver’s license suspended after a DUI in Montana.
Types of DUI Driver’s License Suspensions
After being arrested for DUI in Montana, your driver’s license may or may not be initially suspended. This will depend on how you were charged for your DUI:
- A DUI charge where No Refusal occurred, and breath or blood samples were given
- A DUI charge where there is a Refusal to provide a breath or blood sample
Your DUI arrest is considered a “No Refusal” charge when:
- An officer asks you for a breath or blood test to determine blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)
- You comply and provide your breath or blood sample
If there was No Refusal at the time of your DUI arrest, then you will continue to have a valid driver’s license while the DUI charge is pending and while you are officially charged.
Your DUI arrest is considered a “Refusal” DUI charge when:
- An officer asks you for a breath or blood test to determine your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)
- You are unwilling to comply and do not provide your breath or blood sample
If there is a Refusal to provide a breath or blood sample at the time of your DUI arrest, you will receive a civil driver’s license suspension. This civil suspension begins at the time you refuse to provide a sample.
Understanding a Civil Suspension
Montana operates under a DUI Implied Consent Law. If you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe you have been driving under the influence, you are supposed to consent to a breathalyzer or blood test for the purpose of determining your BAC.
You cannot refuse a breath test or blood test without facing a penalty. This penalty includes a civil driver’s license suspension, and in some jurisdictions is a separate criminal offense. A civil driver’s license suspension is an administrative (not criminal) license suspension and lasts for six months.
Under a civil driver’s license suspension, you cannot receive a probationary permit to be allowed to drive. The only way to “un-suspend” your license after a refusal is a time-limited Petition to the District Court. However, this is very difficult to receive.
Montana Driver’s License Suspension after a DUI Conviction
After you are charged for a DUI, your case will be reviewed. If you are convicted, a driver’s license suspension will occur. Without a valid driver’s license, it’s illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle. Instead, you’ll have to use public transportation, walk, or get rides from friends and family.
DUI Conviction after No Refusal
If your are officially convicted of a DUI, it will result in a criminal suspension of your driver’s license. This suspension begins at the time of sentencing.
DUI Conviction after Refusal
If you are convicted of a DUI, in addition to your civil driver’s license suspension, you will receive a second license suspension. This time, your suspension will be classified as a criminal suspension. This criminal driver’s license suspension begins at the time of sentencing.
Since your license has already been suspended under a civil suspension, it means you may have two separate license suspensions at two different times, or at the same time.
Length of a Montana DUI Driver’s License Suspension
Your driver’s license suspension will range from 6 months to 1 year, depending on prior convictions. Typically, penalty periods are as follow:
- DUI 1st offense (under the age of 21): 90 days
- DUI 2nd offense (under the age of 21): 6 months
- DUI 1st offense (over 21): 6 months
- DUI 2nd or subsequent offense within 5 years (over 21): 1 year
Keep in mind that this timeline may be different depending on your conviction and arrest circumstances.
Obtaining a Montana Limited Driving Permit
A limited driving permit (also called an essential driving permit or probationary license) restricts you to essential driving only. This only includes driving to and from your residence, and:
- Your regular place of employment
- Your school or educational institution (you must be currently enrolled)
- A business or establishment related to maintenance of your household
- A required chemical dependency assessment, educational course, or treatment program
In Montana, the only people who can obtain a limited driving permit after a DUI are those convicted of a DUI 1st offense or DUI Per Se, 1st Offense.
If you are convicted of DUI 2nd offense, or subsequent offense, you cannot receive a driving permit following criminal suspension of your driver’s license. Your license will be suspended, and it will stay that way.
Reinstating Your Montana Driver’s License after a DUI
After you’ve completed your driver’s license suspension period, you can reinstate your license. In fact, restoring your license following a suspension is necessary to stay in compliance with state laws and regulations.
In order to reinstate your license, you must:
- Pay Montana driver’s license restoration fees
- Pay any outstanding fines with the court
- Complete a sobriety program
- Install an Ignition Interlock Device on your car
- Provide proof of the mandatory liability coverage
Judnich Law is Montana’s Premier Defense Attorney
Have you just been charged for a DUI in Montana? Do you have questions about whether or not your driver’s license is now suspended? We’re here to help!
We are a premier Montana DUI defense attorney and have represented hundreds of people accused of DUIs in Montana– from first offense to felony DUIs. Choosing a private DUI defense attorney is an investment well worth making.
Get in touch today for a free consultation!
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.