DUI Education:
Learn the Facts From Marty Judnich & Nathan Hulling

Experienced Montana DUI Defense Attorneys

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Montana DUI Penalties

First-time penalties are understandably less severe than second- or third-time offenders. And the research backs this up. People who get more than one DUI are vastly more likely to have a drinking problem, so this is when you may be ordered to go into alcohol counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, or something similar. Penalties are also worse if you have someone under 16 in your car with you.

Aggravated DUI (1st Offense): Fine of $1,000; not less than 48 hours in jail, up to 1 year, completion of ACT program, prohibited from entering bars or casinos or possessing alcohol for 6 months after conviction.

DUI Per Se (1st Offense): Fine between $600-$1,000; up to 6 months in jail, suspension of driver’s license for at least 6 months, completion of ACT program, prohibited from entering bars or casinos or possessing alcohol for 6 months after conviction.

DUI (1st Offense): Fine between $600-$1,000; not less than 24 hours in jail and up to 6 months in jail, suspension of driver’s license for at least 6 months, completion of ACT program, prohibited from entering bars or casinos or possessing alcohol for 6 months after conviction.

DUI (2nd Offense): Fine between $1,200-$2,000; between 7 days in jail to 1 year in jail, suspension of driver’s license for at least 1 year, completion of ACT program, possibility of ignition interlock device, possibility of sobriety monitoring, possibility of forfeiture of motor vehicle, prohibited from entering bars or casinos or possessing alcohol for 1 year after conviction.

DUI (3rd Offense): Fine between $2,500-$5,000; between 30 days in jail to 1 year in jail, suspension of driver’s license for at least 1 year, completion of ACT program, possibility of ignition interlock device, possibility of sobriety monitoring, possibility of forfeiture of motor vehicle, prohibited from entering bars or casinos or possessing alcohol for 1 year after conviction.

DUI (4th or subsequent):

Felony offense: Felony offense: Fine between $5,000-$10,000; residential inpatient treatment called WATCH program for up to 6 months, followed by probation of up to 5 years, suspension of driver’s license for at least 1 year, mandatory ignition interlock device, felony probation with sobriety monitoring, possibility of forfeiture of motor vehicle.

In addition to the legal penalties, if you are convicted of a DUI, your car insurance company will increase your rates or drop you all together. You will have to pay to get your license reinstated following the suspension time, which is hundreds of dollars. People that travel to Canada often run into problems crossing the border as Canada does not allow people to enter their country with DUI convictions unless a certain amount of years have elapsed since the conviction. Find out more about travel restrictions to places such as Canada here.

DUI Driver’s licensing and Refusals

In Montana, if you refuse a breath or blood test, under our Implied Consent laws, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended; just for that refusal. This suspension last for six (6) months and starts as of the day you refused. You will be given a five (5) day permit to drive to get yourself prepared to not drive again for 6 months. This suspension has nothing to do with the actual DUI criminal charge. The refusal suspension in civil in nature, and is not dependent on the outcome of the DUI arrest. That means, even if your DUI case is resolved without a DUI or you are acquitted, the refusal suspension still remains for the full 6 months.

DUI Conviction and Refusal Suspensions

If you are convicted of a DUI, you will suffer another separate suspension of your driver’s license that is completely independent of a breath test refusal suspension. A DUI conviction suspension is a criminal penalty for the DUI, where the refusal suspension is a separate civil suspension. Only a DUI 1st offense is eligible for a probationary license in Montana after conviction. So, only people convicted of DUI 1st offense can get a probationary license, subsequent convictions cannot obtain such a license, and are simply suspended. The DUI criminal suspension is in addition to any refusal suspension, so they can start at different times and mean that well after 6 months from a DUI arrest, your license may still be suspended from a DUI conviction.

Driver’s license refusals and suspensions can get very confusing and complicated. A premier DUI defense attorney such as the Judnich Law Office can help you straighten your situation out, so give us a call to help.


Court Process

court gavel trialHere’s a guide of what to expect at your first DUI court appearance. In a nutshell, after someone bails you out, you have to go to the Municipal Court Magistrate or the Justice Court Justice of the Peace (they’ll tell you which) within a couple days of getting arrested. At that first appearance, also called the arraignment, the judge verifies your identity and asks how you plead. Always plead “Not Guilty.” If you plead “Guilty,” you’ll get your sentence right there. Pleading “Not Guilty” means you have time for your DUI lawyer to put together a case for you and possibly get the charges reduced.

After the arraignment, your next court appearance is a pretrial hearing called an OMNIBUS hearing at which your lawyer updates the judge about your case and possibly meets with the prosecution to talk about plea bargain options. Then you could have to show up at a motion hearing if certain evidence might be inadmissible. After that, you have the actual trial — whether a jury is present or not is something your Missoula DUI lawyer will help you decide. If you come to a plea agreement, you should be able to have that hearing and your sentencing on the same time. Most people accused of a DUI will be physically present in court 3-4 different times.

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