1st Offense DUI

The state of Montana has implemented some of the strictest laws for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Most of these offenses involve a person who has never been arrested for DUI before. In many of these cases, the person arrest for DUI has no prior criminal record of any kind.

Even for a first offense, a DUI charge can restrict not only your privilege to drive, but it can also severely affect your job and family. The penalties for a first offense drunk driving conviction include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Parts of the incarceration may be suspended, pending the completion of a court-ordered chemical dependency program.

The “Limited Jurisdiction Courts” include the justice, city, and municipal courts that have original jurisdiction over first and second DUI and Per Se offenses.

DUI Attorney in Helena, Montana

If you were arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Helena, Montana, or any of the surrounding areas, then contact a criminal defense attorney at Beebe Law Firm. Greg Beebe is experienced in fighting DUI charges.

Greg Beebe represents men and women in Helena in Lewis and Clark County, Boulder in Jefferson County, Missoula in Missoula County, Bozeman Gallatin County, and other surrounding areas in Montana.

Call 1 (406) 442-3625 today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Information Center for First DUI in Helena, MT

  • Penalties for a First DUI
  • Penalties for a First DUI (Judge's Handbook)
  • Restricted Probationary Driver License
  • A-C-T Phases

Penalties for a First DUI

If you are convicted of a first DUI in Montana, the penalties are as follows:

  1. Jail - 24 hours to 6 months
  2. Fine $600-$1,000
  3. Driver’s License Suspension - 6 months (driver’s license suspension commences from the date of the conviction)

Penalties for a First DUI (Judge's Handbook)

  • The sentence may not be deferred for a DUI offense.
  • The penalty provision for a first offense DUI is found at 61-8-714(1)(6)
    • The offender must be fined a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $1000.
    • The offender must be sentenced to a minimum of 24 consecutive hours in the county jail (or a county facility approved by the court) to a maximum of 6 months.
      • The minimum requirement of 24 consecutive hours indicates that the court should not credit for time served unless a total of 24 consecutive hours will be served. If served in a county facility, the statute provides that the offender, if financially able, must pay the cost of incarceration in the facility.
      • Any incarceration served beyond the 24 consecutive hours can be served under home arrest as provided in Title 46, Chapter 18, part 10.
      • The minimum 24 consecutive hours may be suspended only if the incarceration poses a risk to the offender’s physical or mental well-being.
        • A letter signed by a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist describing the risk is sufficient if the judge is convinced of the seriousness of the risk.
    • Also, the offender must attend and complete a chemical dependency assessment and education course at an approved alcohol treatment program.
      • The assessment may be ordered before or at sentencing. The course may include alcohol and drug treatment, or both. The court must order treatment at a level appropriate to the defendant’s alcohol or drug problem if a finding of chemical dependency is found by a certified chemical dependency counselor.(10) This course and possible treatment are called the ACT program (Assessment Course Treatment).
      • The offender may choose which ACT program to attend, but the assessment and course must be in a program approved by the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
    • Treatment, if recommended by the ACT program and ordered by the Court, may be provided by any certified chemical dependency counselor.
      • All treatment required must be contained in the original court order. Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous does not meet the treatment requirement of a certified chemical dependency counselor.
      • Unless a psychologist or psychiatrist is certified as a chemical dependency counselor, treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist will not meet chemical dependency requirements.
    • Driver Control suspends or revokes the offender’s driver’s license or privilege.
      • Under this section, the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license or privilege is not part of the criminal penalties imposed by the court. For a first offense DUI conviction, Driver Control will suspend the driver’s license or privilege for six months.
      • However, if there is a record of a conviction for Per Se in the prior five-year period, then the license or privilege will be suspended for one year even though the present conviction is for a first offense DUI.
      • Further, on an offender’s first refusal of the alcohol concentration test, the defendant is ineligible for a probationary license for six months after the date of the refusal. For a second or subsequent refusal within five years, the defendant is ineligible for a probationary license for one year after the date of the second or subsequent refusal.
      • Because of these circumstances, the judge will usually not make absolute statements to the offender about the length of time of suspension or revocation of the driver’s license or privilege for any level of DUI or Per Se offense. The decision for periods of suspension rests with Driver Control.
    • For a first offense DUI, the judge may recommend that the offender receives a restricted probationary driver’s license.
      • If issued, the license will state, “essential driving only.”
      • A judge may refuse to recommend that a restricted probationary driver’s license be issued. If the judge does not recommend a probationary driver’s license, then Driver Control will not issue any license to the offender until the judge does recommend a probationary license or until the six-month suspension is completed. To receive a probationary driver’s license, an offender must have the judge’s recommendation, pay a $200 reinstatement fee to Driver Control, comply with ACT and treatment, and have a valid Montana license.
      • The defendant must have cleared any suspension or revocation in any other state.
      • Driver Control will not issue a probationary license if the driver’s license is suspended or revoked in any other state.
    • In addition to other punishments provided for in 61-8-401 or 61-8-406, the court may restrict a defendant to only driving a motor vehicle if an ignition interlock device is installed and functioning. This penalty includes the payment of the costs of leasing, installing and maintaining the device. The criteria for ordering the interlock device are:
  • If the interlock device is reasonably available; the defendant’s BAC at the time of the arrest was 0.16 or greater, or the defendant was previously convicted of 61-8-401 or 61-8-406.
  • The duration of this restriction must run parallel to the period of suspension or revocation of the driver’s license of the defendant. If the defendant pays the reinstatement fee and shows proof of compliance with an interlock restriction imposed by the court, the department may “stay” the suspension or revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Restricted Probationary Driver License

The convicting judge determines if and when an offender is eligible for a restricted probationary driver license. An ignition interlock may be required. A $200 driver license reinstatement fee is required.

No restricted probationary driver license is allowed if the driver refused to provide an alcohol test when requested by the investigating officer. Under the restricted probationary driver license, the only driving permitted is to and from the driver’s residence and to work or school, required chemical dependency program, and a location reasonably related to maintenance of the household.

Driver Record - Ten conviction points are added to the driver record for each DUI/BAC conviction.

Ignition Interlock or Vehicle Forfeiture — A judge may order ignition interlock for an offender convicted of 1st Offense DUI/BAC/Marijuana.

A - C - T Phases

  • A = Assessment
  • C = Course
  • T = Treatment

Assessment - an evaluation to determine if the offender is chemically dependent must be performed by a licensed addiction counselor (LAC) at a state-approved program. If an offender disagrees with the results of their assessment, they may seek—at their expense—a second opinion from an independent counselor licensed to practice in Montana. The offender must then seek the opinion of the court as to which recommendation is the most appropriate treatment course to follow.

Course - 12 hours of education regarding Montana law; consequences for driving impaired; and how alcohol/drugs affect a person's physiology, driving, and choices. The course must be provided by a LAC at a state-approved program.

Treatment - the level of treatment recommended will depend on the level of chemical dependency found in the assessment. Recommendations will vary from outpatient to inpatient residential treatment. An offender may seek the appropriate level of treatment from any competent provider licensed to practice in Montana.

Additional Resources

Montana DUI – Visit the official Montana government website to read more about the penalties and fines that are associated with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

ACT Phase – Visit the official Montana government website to read more about the assessments, courses, and treatments after being charged with a DUI.

Finding a DUI Attorney in Helena, MT

If you were arrested for your first driving under the influence (DUI) in Montana, you should discuss your case with a Montana criminal defense attorney. Greg Beebe is an experienced DUI attorney. He is ready to defend you. His familiarity with the courts and the resources available for people accused of driving under the influence may help you stay out of jail.

Beebe Law Firm represents clients in Montana who have been charged with DUI offenses. Greg Beebe will fight and defend anyone in the State of Montana and residents in Lewis and Clark County, Missoula County, Gallatin County or other Montana communities.

The office is conveniently located at 1085 Helena Avenue in Helena, Montana, between Idaho Avenue and North Dakota Avenue. Give him a call today at 1 (406) 442-3625.

This article was last updated on Monday, August 1, 2016.


Beebe Law Firm - Criminal and DUI Defense
110 N Warren St Helena, MT 59601