The Cost of DUI in the Treasure State
Billings, Missoula, Bozeman, Great Falls, Butte – when it comes to driving drunk, all the cities in Montana have the same laws and penalties for those who are convicted. The fines and penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are very serious and can easily derail an individual’s personal, professional, and financial life for years after they are found guilty. Criminal courts do not take Montana DUI lightly and being charged and convicted of this crime can have serious consequences.
Penalties for First Time Offenders in Montana
Each state has its own set of fines and penalties used as punishment when it comes to driving drunk. While all states are unique, each will generally employ a combination of jail time, license suspension, and fines as punishment for DUI offenders. The severity of these penalties will vary between states – in the state of Montana, first time offenders of MT DUI will face the following penalties:
- Two Days to 6 Months in Jail
- Fines of Between $300 and $1,000
- License Suspension Period of 6 Months
- Possible Use of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Montana also follows a 10-year lookback period, which means if the offenders have any previous DUI offenses within the last 10 years, their current conviction will be considered a repeat offense. Second time offenders of DUI in the state of Montana will face fines between $600 and $1,000, while third time offenders within 10 years will face even harsher fines of between $1,000 and $5,000.
Financial Repercussions Before Conviction
Individuals will often be faced with the cost of DUI before they even make their first court appearance. Should someone be pulled over and arrested for drunk driving, their vehicle will be towed to the local impoundment lot and held there until the offender comes to claim it. When they are ready to get their car back, they will be responsible for paying the towing fees as well as the storage fees for however long the car was being stored at the impound lot. In some cases, the costs for towing and storage could cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand dollars.
If there are aggravated circumstances surrounding the case, such as an accident occurring, a minor being present, or someone being injured as a result of the offender’s drunk driving, they will sometimes be booked into the jail and held with bail. This means the individual, a family member, friend, or bail bondsman will have to pay that bail amount in order for the offender to be released. Bail for a DUI charge can vary depending on the circumstances and could cost anywhere between $500 and $50,000.
Once the offender has been formally charged with Driving Under the Influence, he or she will be assigned a date to appear in court to begin the trial. Before this date, it is in the individual’s best interest to seek the legal help of a DUI attorney in the state of Montana to help try the case. All lawyers will charge different amounts for services and some will ask for the money up front while others are willing to work on a payment plan. Either way, hiring a reputable DUI attorney could cost anywhere between $1,500 and $10,000 unless the offender uses a public defender.
Financial Repercussions After Conviction
Should the offender be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence, he or she will then face all the fines and penalties outlined earlier. As mentioned, the offender will need to pay a fine of between $300 and $1,000 for the first offense. It is also worth mentioning the fines for first time DUI offenders will vary from one state to the next but the fines will almost always increase for those who have previous DUI convictions within that state’s lookback period.
When arrested and charged in a different state, you the fines and penalties in that state will be used as the guidelines for punishment.
Increase in Car Insurance Rates in Montana
The financial penalties an offender will face after being convicted is not the only financial setback faced. In addition to these fines, the individual will see an increase in car insurance rates as well. Insurance providers increase the premiums for DUI offenders to help cover the increased risk they have of making a claim based on the risky driving behavior. It is important to note, however, that each insurance provider will have its own way of calculating this rate increase.
In the state of Montana, individuals can expect to see an average percentage of increase when compared to other states in the country. On average, an offender can expect his or her insurance rate to increase by approximately 75 percent, which will generally add an additional $75 onto the monthly premium payment. This rate of increase is average when compared to other states – some states have recorded insurance rate increases as high as over 200 percent.
How You Can Avoid the Cost of DUI
Being convicted of Driving Under the Influence is not something that should be taken lightly, as it can have a significant impact on many aspects of someone’s personal, professional, and financial life. When all of the costs outlined here are tallied together, individuals could be looking at a $40,000 bill for a mistake that could easily be avoided. Not only is the cost of DUI high financially, but driving drunk also poses a risk to your life and the lives of those around you. The best way to avoid the price of DUI and stay safe when drinking is by using a sober driver to get home safely.
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