Montana DUI Laws and Penalties

Montana DUI laws and penalties are strict. Convicted drivers will have to file for SR22 insurance and receive a $300 to $10,000 fine, up to 5 years in jail, and 10 points on their driving records.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 22, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Montana has the highest percentage of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities
  • Implied Consent is the law in Montana, so to drive, you have automatically given consent for an alcohol test
  • If you are convicted of a DUI you will receive various penalties
  • Montana car insurance companies will take note of a DUI and either raise rates or drop your coverage entirely
  • An SR 22 filing is required of those convicted of a DUI

Montana has adopted very strict drinking and driving penalties because 49 percent of all deaths in a vehicle accident involve alcohol.

Find car insurance quotes in your area for FREE with our quote comparison tool! They do not issue warnings as with other traffic violations. Montana applies penalties with the first offense including specific insurance for people convicted of DUI.

This high death rate causes the auto insurance rates in Montana to be higher for everyone.

Montana DUI Information

In Montana, it is mandatory to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening test (PAS) which is a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver.

If an officer of the law pulls over a driver whom they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicants, the driver must submit because they have given their implied consent at the time of getting their drivers license.

In Montana, the Implied Consent Law is strictly enforced. A DUI chemical test determines the drug or alcohol concentration in the blood.

Blood analysis, urinalysis or a breathalyzer can be used as a chemical test to determine BAC.

Drivers need not submit to a field sobriety test, and it is up to the arresting officer which test is administered.

Montana is a member of the Interstate Drivers License Compact. This means that if a resident of Montana is convicted of drunk driving in another state, the Montana authorities will be informed.

What action the authorities will take varies from state to state.

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Montana DUI Laws

The Implied Consent Law applies to everyone in Montana who has been issued a driver’s license and is one of the most effective laws for limiting drunk driving.

By accepting the driver’s license, the applicant agrees by implication to consent to a BAC test at the request of an officer of the law. Refusing to take the test on request may result in suspension of the license.

Officers may pull over drivers that show erratic driving and request they take the test.

The BAC Limits for under the influence are:

  • 0.08 percent or above to be arrested for DUI
  • between 0.04 percent and 0.079 percent fo
  • r potential arrest at the discretion of the attending officer
  • 0.04 percent or above for commercial drivers
  • 0.02 percent or above for anyone under the age of 21 which is the Zero Tolerance Law.

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Montana DUI Insurance Options

After a DUI conviction in Montana, SR-22 auto insurance is usually required for three years. SR-22 insurance is high-risk driver’s auto insurance and constitutes proof of financial responsibility.

An SR-22 form is filled out by car insurance companies and sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to remove any suspension that may have been placed on the driver’s license by the DMV.

It proves that the driver has the minimum car insurance required by the state DUI laws for car insurance.

SR-22 insurance can be very expensive depending on the company that provides it as well as the age, gender and marital status, type of vehicle and driving record of the insured.

Many major companies will not provide it, but the cost from different companies can vary by hundreds of dollars.

In order to find the best price for SR-22 insurance, drivers should compare quotes from several different companies.

Even if the current insurance company that is covering the convicted driver offers SR-22 insurance, the car insurance premiums will go up.

It is easy and free to get quotes online to see the different options for each unique case. It is not in the best interest of convicted drivers in Montana to accept the first option they see.

Montana DUI Requirements

For a person to be convicted of DUI they must be under the influence of alcohol or another dangerous drug while they are in physical control of a vehicle. This does not include a bicycle.

If the BAC is between 0.04 percent and 0.079 percent it can constitute an arrest for DUI if the officer has observed erratic or impaired driving.

The officer may look for swerving within the lane, crossing lane markers, wider than normal turns and going too slow or too fast for the speed limit before he pulls the offender over.

This driving behavior along with the BAC test will determine if he arrests the driver for DUI.

If the officer decides to arrest the driver for DUI, the driver’s license will be taken and a five-day temporary permit will be issued that begins twelve hours after the arrest.

The driver will be given a written notice of suspension that gives information about the right for the driver to have a hearing.

If an arresting officer takes a driver’s license from someone for a high PAS or refusal to take a PAS, they will give a temporary license along with instructions for getting a hearing to redeem the license.

The hearing must be requested within 30 days.

After that, no request can be made.

At the hearing the judge will only hear testimony that relates to these issues:

  • the arresting officer’s probable cause for stopping the driver
  • proper procedure by the officer for the arrest
  • refusal of a chemical test
  • Was the driver under 21 years of age and subject to the Zero Tolerance Law

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Montana DUI Penalties

The first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor with the following penalty:

  • A fine of $300 to $1,000
  • 24 hours to six months in jail
  • Suspended driver’s license for six months with the possibility of a restricted probationary license after the first 45 days which may include ignition interlock
  • Alcohol assessment
  • Possible treatment for chemical or alcohol dependency
  • 10 points on driver’s license record
  • SR-22 insurance requirement

The second DUI conviction is a misdemeanor with the following penalty:

  • A fine of $600 to $1,000
  • Seven days to one year in jail
  • Suspended driver’s license for one year with the possibility of a restricted probationary license after the first 45 days which may include ignition interlock
  • 10 points on driver’s license record
  • Alcohol assessment
  • Mandatory treatment for chemical or alcohol dependency before re-instatement of license
  • SR-22 insurance requirement

The third DUI conviction is a misdemeanor with the following penalty:

  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Suspended driver’s license for one year with the possibility of a restricted probationary license after the first 90 days which may include ignition interlock
  • 10 points on driver’s license record
  • Alcohol assessment
  • Mandatory treatment for chemical or alcohol dependency before reinstatement of license
  • SR-22 insurance requirement

The fourth and subsequent DUI conviction is a felony with the following penalty:

  • A fine of $1,000 to $10,000
  • Up to five years in a Montana state prison
  • License revoked for at least one year
  • 10 points on driver’s license record
  • Alcohol assessment
  • Mandatory treatment for chemical or alcohol dependency before reinstatement of license
  • SR-22 insurance requirement

The penalties for the first refusal to take a chemical PAS test of the driver’s blood, breath or urine are suspended license for six months and SR-22 insurance.

For the second refusal, the penalties are a suspended license for one year, fine for up to $1,000, up to one year in jail and SR-22 insurance.

There are conditions of aggravated DUI:

  • BAC or 0.16 or more
  • Driving with suspended license
  • Having the required ignition interlock device
  • Refusal to take the PAS test, and has refused in the past
  • Previous DUI conviction in the previous three years, or two in the previous seven years

The penalty for this is a maximum of one year in jail and $1,000 fine. Once a person accumulates 30 points on their driver’s license record within a three year period, they are declared a habitual traffic offender and their license will be revoked for three years.

Montana DUI Statistics

With the very stiff DUI laws in Montana, the percentage of alcohol-related deaths has dropped from 1982 to 2009. In 1982, there were 254 traffic fatalities with 171 that were alcohol-related. This is 67 percent.

In 2009, there were 221 traffic fatalities with 92 that were alcohol-related. This is 42 percent. An alcohol-related fatality is defined as crashes that included at least one driver or non-occupant which means a pedestrian or bicyclist who has a BAC value of 0.08 or above.

Montana has very strict DUI laws and penalties because such a high percentage of traffic deaths are accountable to alcohol or other intoxicants.

This affects the cost of auto insurance in Montana. Their Implied Consent law is one of the most effective laws for preventing drunk driving, and SR-22 insurance is required after the first offense.

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