DUI Convictions: How Does Montana Count Them?

If you are unfortunate enough to receive more than one DUI conviction the price can be high and penalties increase each next conviction. In Montana, there is a somewhat complicated system for counting prior convictions for how they are used in a later DUI charge. Why is it important? Because in Montana four or more lifetime DUI convictions is an automatic felony. The more convictions on your record, the greater the penalty – but not all convictions count against you. So, how does the calculation work?

If you have less than three lifetime DUI convictions, from any state, then only DUI convictions for 10 years prior to the date of arrest can be used. So, if you have two other DUI convictions that were both 6 years ago, you would now be charged with a DUI (3rd Offense). If, however, you have less than 3 convictions, but any of them are more than 10 years old, the ones that are more than 10 years old will not count against you. In the prior example if one of the two convictions was more than 10 years old, but one is less than 10 years old, any new charge would be DUI (2nd offense).

Now, the 10 year rule does not apply if you have 3 or more lifetime DUI convictions.  If you have three or more convictions in your lifetime in any state, then any new DUI offense will be considered a DUI (4th or subsequent) and will be a Felony in Montana.

Is there any way to work around this?  Possibly. In Montana, you can Expunge prior misdemeanor convictions that are more than 5 years completed. So it is possible to expunge some of your prior DUI convictions through the expungement process. If an Expungement is granted, then you are essentially starting the counting process over, and beginning back at #1.

There is a complicated legal argument to challenge older DUI convictions to determine if they were constitutional in terms of being counted, but that is a subject for another blog entry. Please call my office if you would like to discuss any of these matters.

Every state is different, so this calculation may not apply to you if not in Montana.