After a driver enters a guilty plea or is found guilty of driving under the influence or a "per se" violation, the next step will be sentencing. Generally speaking, penalties may include jail time, fines, the use of an interlock device, alcohol monitoring, probation, the payment of court costs, and the completion of a chemical dependency assessment and education course. Additionally, Montana Driver Control imposes suspension of drivers' licenses for guilty pleas and convictions. The Montana Legislature has provided for these penalties by law. A first offense carries with it mandatory jail time of between 24 hours and six months, as well as a fine of between $ 300 and $ 1,000. The installation and use of an interlock device in the driver's vehicle may also be required. Conviction of a second offense carries mandatory jail time of between seven days and one year, a fine of between $ 600 and $ 1,000. A second offense may also result in seizure of vehicles owned by the defendant or the use of an interlock device, and can lead to forfeiture of a defendant’s vehicle. A third DUI conviction results in jail time of between 30 days and one year, as well as a fine of between $ 1,000 and $ 5,000, and may also require forfeiture of the defendant’s vehicle. By law, both the amount of jail time and the amount of the fine are increased if passengers under 16 years of age were in the vehicle when the offense was committed. In Montana, a fourth offense is treated as a felony, the penalty for which is 13 months in the Montana State Prison followed by up to five years of probation, and a fine of up to $ 10,000. Typically, an individual convicted of a felony DUI will be required to attend a residential treatment program in lieu of prison, and if they successfully complete that program, the remainder of the 13 month sentence will be converted to probation. While not required by the legislature, there are a number of other penalties that courts may impose as conditions of a sentence for a DUI conviction. These can include probation, alcohol monitoring, attendance at AA or other self-help group and refraining from consuming alcohol or other intoxicant and from entering bars or casinos. Further, the court will order that the driver be assessed for chemical dependency and receive appropriate education and treatment. Defendants who are able may be required to pay the cost of their jail time. In addition to these criminal penalties, Montana law provides for suspension of the defendant's driver's license. For the most part, the first conviction of DUI or a per se violation results in a six-month suspension; a second conviction draws a one-year suspension. These suspension times are the same for one convicted of refusal to submit to testing. An individual may or may not be eligible for a probationary license during the suspension period. If you have been charged with driving under the influence or a per se violation, the attorneys at Tipp & Buley are ready to provide personalized, compassionate legal support. We understand the complex penalty system and will provide you with an aggressive defense. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced DUI lawyers, call our Missoula law office at 406-549-5186 or visit our website.
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