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Montana DUI Laws & Penalties

Montana DUI Laws 61-8-401 states that it is unlawful for any person to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicants or any combination thereof with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater.

Even if an individual does not show any signs of impairment due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, but has a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater they will be arrested for DUI in Montana.  It should be noted that you could still be arrested for driving under the influence in Montana even if your BAC level is between .04% and .08% just by displaying signs of impairment that are consistent with DUI.

Even before initiating a DUI stop on a potential suspect an officer is already starting to establish probable cause by starting to observe your driving behavior prior to being stopped.  The officer is going to be looking at certain things like swerving within your lane, crossing the lane markers, making wider than normal turns, going excessively slower or faster than the posted speed limit.

Once the officer initiates the DUI stop he will continue to observe your behavior and mannerisms all in an attempt to establish probable cause.  If the officer is able to establish probable cause through either his observations before and during the stop or by you failing any part of the field sobriety tests (if you submitted to them) or by failing a preliminary breath test (if you submitted to one) you will be arrested for driving under the influence in Montana.

It should be noted that you are not required by law to submit to the field sobriety tests, you must, however, submit to a chemical test per Montana's implied consent law.  If an officer requests that you submit to a chemical test and you refuse, the officer is required to inform you of the penalty for test refusal and he must then ask you again if you will submit to a chemical test.  In Montana it is also the arresting officer who designates which test or tests will be administered.

When an officer in Montana arrests you for DUI he will seize your driver's license and issue you a temporary driving permit that will be enforce 12-hours after the time that it was issued.  For example, if the officer issued the temporary permit at 11 p.m. on a Friday night, the permit you may start driving using the permit at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. The temporary permit is only valid for 5 days from the date of issue.  The arresting officer will also issue you a written notice of suspension that tells you about your right to a hearing.

The arresting officer will then forward your driver's license along with all the evidence he has collected against you to the Department for review.  Once the officer has issued you a notice of suspension of your driving privileges you only have 30 days from the date of the notice to file a petition to challenge the suspension of your license in district court.

You are going to want to hire a Montana DUI lawyer who has experience with the hearing process and has represented clients at these hearings if you want to try and avoid the suspension of your driver's license.  Most lawyers will charge around $400 - $500 to represent a client at an administrative hearing.  This cost could be small in comparison to the wages you could lose during your suspension period if you are not able to get to work.

Montana Administrative Hearing Process

Failure to request an administrative hearing or Right of Appeal to Court 61-8-403 within 30 days from the date of the notice of suspension issued to you by the arresting officer will mean that the suspension will be upheld and you will not be able to request an administrative hearing after this time period.

At the hearing a judge will review all of the evidence against you collected by the arresting officer and any evidence presented in your favor by your attorney.  the court will then hear testimony from both sides regarding the evidence in your case and hear testimony from any witnesses that you may have requested to be subpoenaed to appear. All testimony will of course be under oath.

The court will only hear testimony as it relates to the following issues:

  1. Did the arresting officer establish probable cause that you were in fact driving under the influence.
  2. Did the officer followed proper procedure for placing you under arrest.
  3. Did you submit to a chemical test or did you refuse the chemical test.
  4. Were you at the time of arrest under 21 years of age and were arrested for violating the "zero tolerance" law.

These will be the only issues the court will review and hear testimony on.  Any other evidence or concerns will not be heard at this hearing.  After reviewing all of the evidence and hearing all testimonies the court will make the final decision as to whether or not the arresting officer established probable cause in your case and followed proper procedure during the stop and the arrest.

If the court rules in your favor, your license will be reinstated, if the court determines that the evidence against you justifies the officer's suspension of your license, the suspension will be upheld.

If the suspension is upheld you may be eligible for a restricted probationary license if you meet all of the requirements outlined for a restricted license including filing proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Montana SR22 insurance policy.

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Montana First Offense DUI

A Montana first offense DUI is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following fines and penalties:

Jail time:  The minimum jail time for a first offense is 24-hours up to a maximum of 6 months.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the minimum jail time for a first offense is 48 consecutive hours up to 12 months in jail.  At the court's discretion all but the minimum 24-hours may be suspended if the court feels that the jail sentence may pose a risk to the person's well being mentally or physically.

Fines:  The fines for a first offense will be between $300 and $1,000 plus applicable court costs.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the fines will be between $600 and $2,000 plus court costs.

License Suspension:  Your license will be suspended for 6-months following a first offense violation.  You may be eligible for a restricted licensefollowing a first offense.  One of the requirements of receiving a restricted probationary license or getting your license reinstated at the end of your suspension period will be to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Montana SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability requirements.

Montana Second Offense DUI

A Montana second offense DUI is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following fines and penalties:

Jail time:  The minimum jail time for a second offense is 7 days up to a maximum of 6 months.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the minimum jail time for a second offense is 14 days up to 12 months in jail.  The court may suspend all but the initial 5 days of the jail sentence if you undergo and successfully complete a chemical dependency treatment program.

Fines:  The fines for a second offense will be between $600 and $1,000 plus applicable court costs.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the fines will be between $1,200 and $2,000 plus court costs.

License Suspension:  Your license will be suspended for 1-year following a second or subsequent offense within 5-years.  One of the requirements of getting your license reinstated at the end of your suspension period will be to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Montana SR22 policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability requirements.

Montana Third Offense DUI

A Montana third offense DUI carries the following fines and penalties:

Jail time:  The minimum jail time for a third offense is 30 days up to a maximum of 1-year.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the minimum jail time for a third offense is 60 days up to 12 months in jail.  The court may suspend all but the initial 10 days of the jail sentence if you undergo and successfully complete a chemical dependency treatment program.

Fines:  The fines for a third offense will be between $1,000 and $5,000 plus applicable court costs.  If there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest the fines will be between $2,000 and $10,000 plus court costs.

License Suspension:  Your license will be suspended for 1-year following a third or subsequent offense within 5-years.  One of the requirements of getting your license reinstated at the end of your suspension period will be to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Montana SR-22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability requirements.

Vehicle Forfeiture:  Your vehicle may be seized by the state following a third or subsequent DUI offense.

Montana Fourth or Subsequent DUI Offense

A fourth or subsequent DUI offense in Montana is a Felony offense which can result in a prison term at the Montana Department of Corrections for a period not less than 13 months up to a maximum of 5-years in prison.  You will also be fined between $1,000 and $10,000.

You may also have to undergo a residential program for alcohol treatment approved by the Department of Corrections.  You will not be eligible for parole.

Montana CDL DUI

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of Montana while under the influence due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test will be arrested for DUI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

Montana DUI Under 21 Years of Age

A first offense violation of Montana's "zero tolerance" law for anyone under 21 years of age will result in your license being suspended for 90 days plus you will have to pay $100 to $500 in fines.  A second violation of Montana's zero tolerance law under the age of 21 will result in your license being suspended for 6-months plus you will have to pay $200 to $500 in fines..

A third or subsequent violation while under 21 years of age will result in your license being suspended for 1-year plus you will have to pay $300 to $500 in fines.  If you are under 21 and you register a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater you will also be facing the same fines and penalties as someone over the age of 21 would face.

Montana SR22 Requirements

Before the Montana Department of Justice will reinstate your license following your suspension period or before issuing a restricted probationary license, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your Montana SR22 coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Department of Justice of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Montana Department of Justice will immediately suspended your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the Department of Justice before they will issue you another license.  This will also mean that your 3-year required SR22 filing period will start over.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Montana and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in Montana for any less. Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Montana DUI Resources

  • Montana First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • Montana SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Montana's SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Montana ACT assessment, course treatment programs - We offer a complete listing of state approved DUI ACT classes listed by County.

  • Montana Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Montana bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.

  • Montana DUI Courts - Comprehensive list of Montana's criminal courts listed by County.

  • Jails in Montana - Comprehensive list of Montana's jails and contact information.