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What happens to your license when you’re charged with DUI?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2023 | Criminal Law |

It can be intimidating to face a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Montana. If a court convicts you for the violation, you potentially face heavy fines and jail time. And depending on specific aggravating factors, those penalties become more severe.

But what exactly happens to your driver’s license when you face a DUI charge? When is your license suspended or revoked? And can you recover it?


You could lose your license as early as the traffic stop process. If an officer suspects you’re impaired during the traffic stop, they’ll ask you to undergo a breath or blood test. If you refuse this test, the officer will immediately confiscate your license to be submitted to the state Department of Justice.

Refusing to submit to a traffic stop test will result in a six-month suspension period, with no opportunity to modify it into a restricted probationary license. If you refuse again within five years in another traffic stop, officials will suspend your license for a year without any chance to modify it into a probationary license.


If you take a roadside test and it’s found that you have enough alcohol in your system to impair your driving, you’ll face a DUI charge. During the court procedure over your charge, your license could be suspended or revoked, depending on the number of prior DUI offenses you’ve committed:

  • First offense: License suspension for six months, and you may be eligible to apply for a restricted probationary license. This might also involve installing an ignition interlock device after the first 45 days of suspension.
  • Second offense: License suspension for a whole year. You may be eligible for an ignition interlock-restricted probationary license after the first 45 days of suspension.
  • Third offense: License suspension for a whole year. You may be eligible for an ignition interlock-restricted probationary license after the first 90 days of suspension.
  • Fourth and subsequent offense: Officials will revoke your license. You’ll have to wait an entire year before reapplying for another.

In addition, if you had refused testing during the traffic stop, the suspension penalties for refusing will combine with those levied against you from a conviction.

Also, if you accumulate 30 points on your driver’s license within three years for DUI, officials will declare you a “habitual traffic offender.” Your license will be immediately revoked for three years. Montana’s Motor Vehicle Division assesses these points to your license each time you commit a violation, such as DUI.

Not everything is lost when your license is suspended or revoked. You can file a petition to challenge the suspension/revocation in the district court where your DUI arrest occurred. When the court sets a schedule, you can testify in court about why you’re entitled to a license. It would be best to have a legal professional advising and representing you during this. Not only can an attorney represent you in court, but they can also negotiate for a modified license, if possible.