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What Is Aggravated DUI in Montana?: Our Legal Guide

DUIs and DWIs are common cases in the United States, and while most people are already familiar with these laws, people are still confused about what an aggravated DUI is. This isn’t surprising as it was only added in the Montana Code in 2011.

Aggravated DUI has more serious repercussions than any other DUI or DWI offense. An experienced lawyer can help navigate these legal distinctions.

How is Aggravated DUI Different from a Standard DUI?

A standard DUI charge indicates that an individual has been accused of driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a public road while the driver's ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Montana’s legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08. You can still be charged with DUI if it can be proved that your ability to drive is impaired because of alcohol or drugs, regardless of your blood alcohol level. Police officers determine impairment with breath tests, blood tests, and physical field sobriety tests

How is Aggravated DUI any different? You can be charged with an aggravated DUI if any of the following can be proven:

  1. Your blood or breath alcohol content is 0.16 or higher;

  2. You are driving while impaired or your blood alcohol level is over 0.08 AND you have been ordered to have an interlock ignition device installed in your vehicle;

  3. You are driving while impaired or your blood alcohol level is over 0.08 AND your license has been suspended or revoked because of a prior DUI conviction;

  4. You are driving while impaired or your blood alcohol level is over 0.08 AND you have refused to submit a blood or breath sample for a DUI investigation within the past 10 years; or

  5. You have a prior conviction or pending charge for a DUI, Aggravated DUI, negligent vehicular assault, or negligent homicide within the past 10 years.

Sentences for Aggravated DUI

Aggravated DUI is considered a more severe criminal charge than a standard DUI, so the sentence is much harsher than that of a standard DUI. Just as with a standard DUI, if you have a person under the age of 16 in the vehicle when you’re pulled over, the potential sentence gets even worse.

To put it into context, a first offense DUI with a blood alcohol content of between 0.08 and 0.16 could get you upto six months of jail time with a minimum fine of $600, and a maximum fine of $1,000. You could also have your license suspended and may have to go through counseling.

A standard DUI sentence doesn’t has a minimum jail sentence of 24 consecutive hours. On the other hand, an aggravated DUI conviction requires a minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail, and a maximum of a year - twice the maximum of a standard DUI conviction. The minimum fine for an aggravated DUI is also higher, at a mandatory $1,000, or $2,000 if there is someone under the age of 16 in the car. If you have prior DUI convictions of any kind, the sentence for Aggravated DUI gets worse, and could be charged as a felony.

If you have been charged with an Aggravated DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Roath Law knows how to defend your legal rights. We can recognize legal issues that could reduce or eliminate your DUI charge, and we know how to work with the prosecutors to get you the best possible outcome. Get in touch with a DUI lawyer at Roath Law today to schedule a free consultation.