Montana DUI Defense Attorneys

Angel, Coil & Bartlett is a Bozeman, Montana law firm with trial attorneys specializing in Montana DUI Defense and defending alcohol-related Montana crimes. The Montana DUI defense attorneys at Angel, Coil & Bartlett routinely handle DUI, DUI Per Se, Aggravated DUI and DUI While Under the Influence of THC charges across the state of Montana. Contact our firm for more information as to how we can assist you in your case. Below are some common frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive from our clients.

What are the Different Kinds of DUI Charges in Montana?

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI), Operation of noncommercial vehicle by person with alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more—operation of commercial vehicle by person with alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more (DUI Per Se), Aggravated DUI, and Operation of noncommercial vehicle or commercial vehicle by person under influence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (DUI Per Se (THC)) are Montana’s versions of the crimes charged when a person is determined to have been operating a “vehicle” while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

Below is a list of other DUI-related offenses we have experience in defending but are addressed on other pages of our website:

Why is it Important to Retain an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney?

Montana DUI defense is a specialized area of Montana criminal defense involving complicated legal issues, scientific principles related to the field sobriety tests conducted by police, the understanding of police breathalyzer equipment and the equipment’s flaws and shortcomings, alcohol’s effect on the human body and its effect on a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and the physiology behind the absorption and elimination of alcohol in the human body.

At Angel, Coil & Bartlett, our attorneys have years of experience representing clients in DUI cases and keep up on the latest scientific research and trial techniques. As a client of our firm, you will benefit from our attorneys’ experience in bringing Montana DUI cases to trial, challenging unlawful police procedures and practices during DUI traffic stops, analyzing and scrutinizing DUI field sobriety tests that can often point to a person’s innocence, rather than guilt—in direct contrast to the opinion of the arresting officer—and negotiating successful resolutions to your case with the prosecuting attorney.

What Should I Bring to My First Meeting With Your Office?

You should bring all of the court-related documents you have received from law enforcement and the Court. This may include the charging documents (citations), a copy of your bond conditions if you have seen a judge, the “Implied Consent Advisory” form that was provided to you by law enforcement related to your breath test, blood test or refusal, and the document informing you of your next court hearing.

What are the Differences Between the Various DUI Charges in Montana?

The four most common DUI charges in Montana are DUI, DUI Per Se, Aggravated DUI and DUI Per Se (THC). Visit our “Areas of Practice” page for information on the more serious DUI-related offenses.

DUI: A person commits the offense of DUI if the person is in actual physical control of a vehicle, on a way of the state open to the public, and is under the influence of alcohol or is in actual physical control of a vehicle, within the state of Montana, and is under the influence of a dangerous drug, any other drug, or any combination of alcohol, a dangerous drug or any other drug.

DUI Per Se: For noncommercial drivers, a person commits the offense of DUI Per Se if the person is in actual physical control a noncommercial vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public while the person’s alcohol concentration, as shown by analysis of the person’s blood, breath, or urine, is 0.08 or more. For commercial drivers, a person commits the offense of DUI Per Se if the person is in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public while the person’s alcohol concentration, as shown by analysis of the person’s blood or breath, is 0.04 or more.

Aggravated DUI: A person commits the offense of Aggravated DUI if the person is in violation of DUI, DUI Per Se, or DUI Per Se (THC) and, at the time of the offense:

  • The person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.16 or more;
  • The person is under the order of a court or the department to equip any motor vehicle the person operates with an approved ignition interlock device;
  • The person’s driver’s license or privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, or revoked as a result of a prior violation of DUI, refusing to take a blood or breath test, DUI Per Se, or DUI Per Se (THC);
  • The person refuses to provide a breath or blood sample and the person’s driver’s license or privilege to drive was suspended, canceled, or revoked for failing to provide a breath or blood sample within 10 years of the commission of the present offense; or
  • The person has one prior conviction or pending charge for a violation of Vehicular Homicide While Under Influence, Negligent Vehicular Assault, DUI, DUI Per Se, or DUI Per Se (THC), or Aggravated DUI within 10 years of the commission of the present offense or has two or more prior convictions or pending charges, or any combination thereof, for violations of Vehicular Homicide While Under Influence, Negligent Vehicular Assault, DUI, DUI Per Se or DUI Per Se (THC).

DUI Per Se (THC): A person commits the offense of DUI Per Se (THC) if the person drives or is in actual physical control of a noncommercial vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public while the person’s delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol level, excluding metabolites, as shown by analysis of the person’s blood, is 5 ng/ml or more; or if the person drives or is in actual physical control of  a commercial vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public while the person’s delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol level, excluding metabolites, as shown by analysis of the person’s blood, is 5 ng/ml or more.

What are Some of the Potential Penalties for DUI, DUI Per Se, Aggravated DUI and DUI Per Se (THC)?

Generally speaking, DUI, DUI Per Se, Aggravated DUI and DUI Per Se (THC) can be collectively referred to as “DUIs.” Being convicted of a DUI in Montana can have a significant impact on one’s life. If you are convicted of a DUI in Montana, the penalties can include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Incarceration.
  • Incarceration fees.
  • Community service.
  • The sheriff department’s work program.
  • Loss of your Montana or other state noncommercial or commercial driver’s license(s) and privilege(s).
  • Fines and court costs.
  • Prosecution fees.
  • Mandatory Prime for Life classes (covering alcohol and drugs).
  • An alcohol evaluation by a licensed addiction counselor and the requirement that the person comply with any treatment recommendations made by the counselor.
  • A prohibition against the use of alcohol for a period of time.
  • A probibition against frequenting establishments where alcohol is the chief item for sale.
  • A requirement that any vehicle you drive be equipped with an interlock device.
  • Points on your driving record.
  • An increase in car insurance premiums.
  • Forfeiture of the vehicle used in the alleged DUI.
  • The 24/7 sobriety program.
  • Non-commercial and commercial driver’s license suspension.
  • Pilot’s license suspension.
  • DUI court.
  • Treatment Court.
  • Probation.
  • The stigma associated with a DUI conviction.
  • A criminal record.

Felony DUI:

A fourth or subsequent DUI related offense is a felony in the state of Montana and can include, among other penalties, a commitment to the department of corrections for placement in an appropriate correctional facility or program for a term of 13 months followed by up to 5 years on probation; or a commitment to the Montana State Prison with the possibility of parole.

I Refused to Take a Breath or Blood Test Upon Request of the Arresting Officer. Under Montana’s “Implied Consent” Law, What Will Happen to My Driver’s License as a Result of Refusing to Take the Test?

Under Montana law, a person who operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle upon ways of this state open to the public is considered to have given consent to a test or tests of the person’s blood or breath for the purpose of determining any measured amount or detected presence of alcohol or drugs in the person’s body. This is commonly referred to as Montana’s “Implied Consent” Law.

The breath or blood test or tests must be administered at the direction of a peace officer when:

  • The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has been driving or has been in actual physical control of a vehicle upon ways of this state open to the public while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two and the person has been placed under arrest for a violation of DUI or Aggravated DUI;
  • The person is under the age of 21 and has been placed under arrest for a violation of Operation of Vehicle by Person Under 21 Years of Age With Alcohol Concentration of 0.02 or More; or
  • The officer has probable cause to believe that the person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle:
    • In violation of DUI and the person has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in property damage;
    • Involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious bodily injury or death; or
    • In violation of Aggravated DUI.

Non-Commerical Driver’s License:

Upon a first refusal of a breath or blood test, the person will incur a suspension of 6 months with no provision for a restricted probationary license. Upon a second or subsequent refusal within 5 years of a previous refusal, a person will incur a suspension of 1 year with no provision for a restricted probationary license.

Commercial Driver’s License

If a person is the holder of a commercial driver’s license, in addition to any action taken against the driver’s noncommercial driving privileges upon a first refusal, the person’s commercial driver’s license will be suspended for a 1-year period and, upon a second or subsequent refusal,  the person’s commercial driver’s license will be suspended for life, subject to department rules adopted to implement federal rules allowing for license reinstatement, if the person is otherwise eligible, upon completion of a minimum suspension period of 10 years. If the person has a prior conviction of a “major offense” as defined under Montana law, arising from a separate incident, the conviction has the same effect as a previous testing refusal for the holder of a commercial driver’s license.

Challenging the Driver’s License Suspension Under Montana’s Implied Consent Law:

A person whose license is suspended in Montana has a right to contest the seizure of their license by filing a petition in district court. Montana law specifically provides that: “Within 30 days after notice of the right to a hearing has been given by a peace officer, a person may file a petition to challenge the license suspension or revocation in the district court in the county where the arrest was made.” See Montana Code annotated § 61-8-403.

Are These the Only Penalties I May Face for DUI, DUI Per Se, Aggravated DUI and DUI Per Se (THC)?

No. There are many other possible penalties you can face if you are convicted of a DUI or felony DUI in Montana. Once you meet with one of our attorneys the other possible penalties will be discussed with you in detail in addition to your possible defenses.

What Can I Expect From Your Firm?

You can expect us to represent you at all court-related phases of your case and aggressively advocate on your behalf. As a citizen of the United States and as a resident or visitor of the State of Montana, you have certain constitutional rights under the United States Constitution and the Montana Constitution. Under the Montana Constitution, you have an explicit right to privacy as well as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article II, Section 11 of the Montana Constitution. Citizens in the state of Montana benefit from heightened privacy protections not enjoyed in most other U.S. states and these principles apply to Montana DUI arrests. Our attorneys will scrutinize your case for constitutional violations and ensure that law enforcement respected your rights during your traffic stop. Montana DUI cases can often be resolved in favor of the defendant by establishing that the police violated a person’s constitutional rights.

We will thoroughly review the evidence in your case to formulate a defense unique to your set of circumstances. Depending on the specific facts of your case, we will:

  • Negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the prosecutor in your case.
  • Examine your case for constitutional violations.
  • Scrutinize the officer’s administration of the standardized field sobriety tests you performed for errors.
  • Examine your case for non-alcohol and/or non-drug related reasons for your failure to perform the field sobriety tests to the officer’s satisfaction.
  • Challenge the validity of the non-standardized field sobriety tests the officer conducted.
  • Challenge the validity of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results from your breath or blood test.
  • Challenge the legality of the officer’s request to have you submit to a breath or blood test.
  • Challenge the legality of the seizure of your driver’s license if the officer alleges you refused to take a blood or breath test.
  • Challenge prior DUI convictions used to enhance your DUI to a second, third or subsequent offense.
  • Prepare your case for trial.
  • Try your case before a jury or judge.

Why Choose Our Firm?

Our attorneys realize that the vast majority of clients arrested for DUI have little or no prior criminal history or involvement with the police. Consequently, we understand the stress our clients endure when they are accused of a crime and our attorneys are committed to helping you through the process and serving as a strong advocate who is on your side. Considering that Montana DUI law is one of our specialty areas of practice, our attorneys are in an ideal position to look at your predicament with empathy and understanding. At Angel, Coil & Bartlett, we are committed to treating you with the respect and dignity that you deserve and look forward to serving you in your time of need.

If you are accused of committing the offense of DUI in Montana, contact our firm to speak to one of our DUI attorneys. Angel, Coil & Bartlett is comprised of a dedicated team of Montana DUI trial lawyers committed to protecting your constitutional and legal rights and helping you navigate the Montana criminal justice system.

Call us today for a free telephone consultation with one of our attorneys and an appointment with our firm.