While we all know drunk or drugged driving is dangerous, a lot of drivers aren’t aware of the DUI laws in Montana.
And that’s the first mistake.
To be a safe driver, you need to KNOW and OBEY the laws.
This is why, here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Montana DUI laws. We’ll look at the laws relating to DUI, the penalties, and the dangers, as well as answer some FAQs.
So let’s dive right in!
DUI Laws in Montana
Montana’s DUI law states…
“A driver is prohibited to operate any motor vehicle (commercial or non-commercial) if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs on any state road.”
The term “under the influence” is described in the law as a “result of taking into the body alcohol, drugs, or any combination of alcohol and drugs”.
Now, to understand the laws more, let’s break them down into:
- Illegal BAC levels
- Drugs and driving
- Implied consent law
- Open container law
Illegal BAC Levels
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) determines the amount of alcohol in your body. This is done through a blood, breath, or urine test.
According to Montana law, it is a DUI if your BAC level reaches:
- 0.08% or greater for 21 years old and above
- 0.02% or greater for those below 21 years old
- 0.04% or greater for drivers that hold a commercial license
Drugs and Driving
When it comes to drugs, know that you can be charged with DUI even if you’ve just taken prescription or over-the-counter drugs. That is, of course, if it affects or impairs your driving abilities.
NOTE: Because of this, make sure you ask your doctor or the over-the-counter salesperson if a drug will affect your driving. And if it does, don’t take the drug and drive.
So if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence and your blood test shows at least 5ng/ml of drugs, you will be charged with DUI.
Implied Consent Law
The Implied Consent Law states…
“If you have a driver’s license and are operating a vehicle in Montana, you automatically agree to submit to a BAC test from a police officer if you show signs of impaired driving.”
If you refuse to take this test, you may lose your driver’s license. The police officer has the authority to get your license and suspend it for 6 months.
Open Container Law
Another law closely related to DUI is the Open Container Law. This law states…
“You are not allowed to possess or transport any open bottle of liquor if you are inside a motor vehicle. This includes open cans, jars, and containers.”
If you need to transport alcoholic beverages, it must be:
- In a locked storage compartment
- In a trunk, luggage compartment, or cargo compartment
- Behind the last upright seat in an area where a driver or passenger doesn’t normally sit
The exceptions to this law are when:
- The contents of the container/bottle can’t be removed
- The open containers are in the living quarters of a camper
- It is transported by a hired driver of a bus, limousine, or taxi
DUI Penalties in Montana
Since DUI is a big NO, you can expect the penalties for it to be very harsh.
Here’s a table showing you the DUI penalties in Montana.
|Offense:||Violation:||Fine:||License Suspension:||Jail Time:|
|1st||Misdemeanor||$600-$1,000||6 months*||24 hours – 6 months|
|2nd||Misdemeanor||$1,200-$2,000||12 months||7 days – 6 months|
|3rd||Misdemeanor||$2,500-$5,000||12 months||30 days – 12 months|
|4th or subsequent||Felony||$5,000-$10,000||13 months||13 months – 5 years|
*In exchange for license suspension, the driver may be given probationary use of their license.
For all offenses, the driver should also pay for an ACT assessment, education, and a treatment program.
Dangers of DUI
What exactly are the dangers of driving under the influence?
Why are the penalties so severe?
Well, here are some side effects of alcohol and drugs in relation to driving:
- Impaired vision and motor skills
- Less concentration, which makes it harder for you to focus on the road
- Slower reflexes
- Poor judgment (often thought of as “overconfidence”)
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- Memory loss
All these side effects greatly reduce your safety on the road. The chances of getting into an accident are much higher and you or someone else may get serious injuries or, worse, death.
Frequently Asked Questions
For more information, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about DUI laws in Montana.
If you drink, when can you drive?
In general, BAC tests can detect alcohol taken 4-6 hours ago. So to avoid drunk driving, it’s good to wait for more than 6 hours or, even better, until the next day.
Is Montana a zero tolerance state?
Yes, Montana is a zero-tolerance state. Since the legal drinking age is 21, you will face instant charges if you are found to have the smallest amount of alcohol in your system if you are below 21 years old.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer in Montana?
Yes, you can refuse to take a breathalyzer or any DUI test for that matter. But according to the Implied Consent Law, this will allow the police officer to get your driver’s license and penalize you.
On top of that, you can still be charged with DUI, even if your BAC level was not tested.
Can you get a DUI on private property in Montana?
The DUI laws only apply to those operating a motor vehicle on a public road in Montana. If you are on private property, you can’t be caught for DUI.
How long does a DUI stay on your record in Montana?
For your first DUI offense, the record will stay for 3 years. However, for second and subsequent offenses, expect it to be on your record for at least 5 years.
Is a DUI a felony in MT?
The fourth or any subsequent offense for DUI is already considered a felony. The penalties include a 5-year prison term and fines from $5,000-$10,000.
Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in Montana?
If it’s your first time being suspected of DUI, your license won’t be taken if you allow getting a BAC test. If you refuse, the police officer will get your license and suspend it.
That said, if you are guilty of DUI, your license will be suspended for 6 months. However, you can choose to get a probationary license.
How much is bail for a DUI in Montana?
Bail for DUI depends on the situation, but usually, the bail starts at $500.
And that was everything you needed to know about the Montana DUI laws.
Driving under the influence is not only VERY dangerous — but it’s also expensive and inconvenient. Aside from the large fines, you will face license suspensions and even jail time.
So whether you want to ensure safety for all, or just want to avoid the penalties, DON’T DRIVE IF YOU DRINK OR DO DRUGS!
Always drive safely!