If you are stopped by an officer and accused of driving under the influence, you should know that you could face harsh penalties for that offense. At the same time, if you have a history of DUI offenses on your record, there is a chance that those could affect the penalties you face in the future.
For example, a first offense DUI comes with between 24 hours of six months of jail time. A second conviction could be anywhere from seven days to a year of jail time. Third convictions come with jail time of 30 days to a year as well.
Being able to exclude past DUIs or take another defensive stance may help you minimize the penalties you face and could result in the case being dropped altogether in some situations.
How long will the court look back when deciding if you have a past offense?
Normally, if you commit a second offense within 10 years, that will fall within the look-back period. However, once you reach a third offense, the look-back period is unlimited. So, even if you had one offense at 21, another 31, the next offense at 45 could constitute a third offense, not a first or second offense. Keep in mind that a fourth offense is a felony, so it’s important to take all the steps necessary to prevent that from occurring.
Will you have to go through substance abuse treatment?
This is another tricky part of the law. If this is your second or subsequent offense, then you will need to go through substance abuse treatment. However, first-time offenders may not need it. So, for example, if your first offense was at 21 and the next was at 45, you may be considered a first offender in both cases and not need to complete it.
The laws surrounding DUIs are complex in Montana
Montana takes drunk driving seriously, and the laws are fairly complex. If you have questions about them, it’s important to talk to someone familiar with law about your rights and responsibilities. You may be able to successfully defend yourself and minimize or eliminate the risk of penalties.