What the Heck Is Aggravated DUI in Montana?

What is Aggravated DUI in Montana

Most people have heard of a DUI or DWI, but there is a newer law called an Aggravated DUI that is being frequently charged in Montana. So, what the heck is it?

Aggravated DUI is a type of DUI that is more serious than a standard DUI. Aggravated DUI was added to the Montana Code in 2011. The crime itself can be very complicated, but I’ll cover the basics in this post.

What’s the Difference Between a DUI and an Aggravated DUI?

In Montana, there is a significant difference between a standard DUI charge and an Aggravated DUI charge.

Standard DUI Charges

A standard DUI charge means that someone is accused of driving while their ability to control a motor vehicle is diminished. A specific blood alcohol content is not necessarily required. The charge is either established or disproven by looking at the performance of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, objective signs of intoxication, and blood or breath tests.

Essentially, a good old fashioned DUI requires proving someone was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Aggravated DUI Charge

DUI keys alcohol An Aggravated DUI is a criminal charge that is different than a standard DUI in that all the elements of a DUI must be proven, but additional elements must also be proven by the prosecutor.

Essentially, Aggravated DUI requires proving a good old fashioned DUI and any one of the following additional elements:

  1. A blood or breath alcohol content of 0.16 or more (double the 0.08 threshold)
  2. The person has already been ordered to operate any vehicle with an ignition interlock device
  3. The person’s driver’s license has been suspended or revoked due to a prior DUI conviction at the time of the new offense
  4. The person refuses a blood or breath test during the current DUI investigation, and the person’s driver’s license was suspended, canceled or revoked as a result of a DUI conviction within the last 10 years
  5. The person has one prior conviction or pending charge for a violation of DUI, Aggravated DUI, negligent vehicular assault or negligent homicide within 10 years of the commission of the current DUI, or has 2 or more prior convictions or pending charges, or any combination thereof, for violations of DUI, Aggravated DUI, negligent vehicular assault or negligent homicide.

Sentences for Standard DUI and Aggravated DUI Charges

Aggravated DUI is a criminal charge. The sentence, if convicted, of an Aggravated DUI is harsher than a standard DUI conviction. The sentence is also much harsher if there is one or more passengers under 16 years of age in the vehicle.

Potential Sentence for a First Offense

Standard DUI
  1. 1 day – 6 months in jail
  2. $600-$1,000 fine
  3. ACT program counseling and license suspension
Aggravated DUI
  1. 2 days – 1 year in jail
  2. A flat fine of $1,000
  3. Mandatory participation in drug or DUI court if available, and a 24/7 alcohol testing program

Keep in mind: The sentence for either a standard DUI or an Aggravated DUI increases significantly upon repeat convictions.

How an Experienced DUI Attorney Can Help

If you’ve been accused of a DUI, working with a skilled defense attorney is crucial, especially if you’re facing the harsher sentences of an Aggravated DUI charge.

You need a defense team who knows all the protocols law enforcement officers are required to follow during DUI investigations. You need a defense team who can spot small mistakes and inconsistencies that other lawyers miss.

judnich law office dui lawyers

At the Judnich Law Office, we’re experts in both standard and Aggravated DUI cases. We take every case seriously and we’ll take the time to examine every detail of your case. That’s why our past clients have received such good results.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Montana, the lawyers at the Judnich Law Office can help.

Call (406) 203-0913 today or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Photos: Mark Holloway, James Palinsad