Top Bigfork, MT DUI Lawyers Near You

DUI Lawyers | Kalispell Office | Serving Bigfork, MT

PO Box 1758, Kalispell, MT 59903

Bigfork DUI Information

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Find a DUI Attorney near Bigfork

What Is Considered Drunk Driving?

Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) is an offense that takes place when an individual operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While various states have different names for drunk driving offenses, DUI is one of the most common ways that the offenses are referred to as a whole.

While federal law largely pertains to commercial drivers (for whom the legal BAC while driving is .04 or less), state laws are generally called on when infractions of the law come into play for the average citizen. Federal DUI laws can be levied if the offender is traveling through federally-owned lands, indigenous lands or crossing state lines, but the vast majority of drunk driving charges are meted out at the state level.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving while under the influence or DUI is a serious matter across the nation, including in Montana. This criminal offense may result in a number of serious penalties such as the loss of driving privileges, fines, mandatory counseling, or jail time. However, there effects of a DUI conviction can be felt outside the courtroom as well and may cause other issues in your day to day life. Accordingly, it is important for anyone facing a DUI charge in A Bigfork to work with a competent criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and mitigate any legal issues.

How long does a DUI stay on your record?

The length of time a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record (different from your driving record that the DMV uses) depends on the state you live in. Some states will remove a DUI from your criminal record after five years, at which point, if you are arrested and convicted for DUI again, the system will treat you as a first-time offender. In other states, this could be 10 years. Other states do not do this at all, meaning the conviction will always be on your record, unless you can expunge it.

Have You Been Charged with a DUI?

If so, it is imperative to immediately contact a A Bigfork: DUI lawyer who knows all the defenses that may be available to you. To violate DUI law, the blood-alcohol content must be at least .08 percent, and if it is higher than .14 you can be charged with extreme DUI. Alcohol content is determined by blood, breath, or urine tests. If you refuse to take one of those tests your driver’s license is automatically suspended.

How long do you go to jail for a DUI conviction?

This depends on the state that you live in. Some states have mandatory jail sentences (although in some it’s only a few days) for a first-time offender, while other states have no jail time for first-time offenders. For each DUI conviction you receive, your odds of going to jail for a longer amount of time will increase.

DUI Penalties

If convicted of a DUI, there are some fairly steep penalties you may find yourself facing. Sentencing for a DUI in Montana may include loss of driving privileges, fines, mandatory counseling, and even jail time in more serious cases. A DUI can lead to other consequences outside of court-imposed sentencing as well. Some states also require ignition interlock devices in the cars of people with DUI convictions. Having a DUI conviction may cause problems with your current employment, impose difficulties obtaining future employment, damage your reputation, raise the cost of car insurance, and even jeopardize professional licensing.

A DUI conviction is punishable by license revocation, months in jail, or years in prison for repeat offenders and stiff fines.

Should you plead guilty to a DUI?

Many people think they should plead guilty quickly to “move on” from the incident. But that will mean having a conviction on your record for years to come, which can have serious negative effects on your life. You should always discuss your case with an attorney before you ever make any decisions on pleading guilty.

Is Drunk Driving a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

Drunk driving can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. First-time offenders with no aggravating factors could be looking at a misdemeanor charge in most states. Repeat offenders, or offenders who commit DUI or DWI with aggravating factors, could find themselves facing felony charges.

Aggravating factors may include, but are not limited to: committing DUI with children in the car, speeding or reckless driving while under the influence, highly elevated BAC levels while measured (.08, .15 and above) or causing a serious injury or death as a result of driving while under the influence.

What happens when you get a DUI?

A DUI conviction can mean spending time in jail, having to pay fines and court costs, and attending drunk driving classes or entering into rehab. It could also mean having to deal with the effects of a driver’s license suspension, which could affect your job. Some states also require ignition interlock devices in the cars of people with DUI convictions. In short, the penalties are serious, and you should treat them seriously.

Can You Be Charged for Drunk Driving if You Are Parked?

Yes, in many jurisdictions it is entirely possible to be charged with drunk driving even if parked. A conviction may depend on actual proof that you operated the vehicle while intoxicated.

Further, attempted DUI is a discrete charge in many states and as such, the burden of proof to establish this particular charge is much lower than with full DUI. Regardless of the situation, it is not advised that you enter the drivers’ seat of a car with a BAC higher than the established level in your state.

Driving High vs. Driving Drunk: What’s the Difference?

While BAC can be easily measured by the use of the breathalyzer or a number of other devices, it can be more difficult to prove intoxication by a number of other drugs, including cannabis (marijuana).

Where cannabis’ active ingredient (THC) stays in a human system for a number of weeks, false positives have proven particularly difficult for state prosecutors looking to secure convictions based on allegations of intoxicated driving. Newly deployed devices seek to circumvent this problem, but the matter remains legally contested in many jurisdictions.

Field sobriety tests, body cam evidence and other metrics are currently also used to judge whether or not a driver is impaired by drugs other than alcohol. In terms of legal repercussions, DUI laws are generally broad enough to encompass all activity where a driver is intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, and the sentencing is usually severe for both.

Those found guilty of DUI or DWI for drugs other than alcohol may face additional drug-related penalties (possession, trafficking, etc.) in some jurisdictions. Diversionary programs, or mandatory drug education programs may also be part of any punishment for drunk driving.

How long does a DUI stay on your record?

The length of time a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record (different from your driving record that the DMV uses) depends on the state you live in. Some states will remove a DUI from your criminal record after five years, at which point, if you are arrested and convicted for DUI again, the system will treat you as a first-time offender. In other states, this could be 10 years. Other states do not do this at all, meaning the conviction will always be on your record, unless you can expunge it. A Bigfork criminal defense lawyer can better help you determine how long a Montana DUI conviction may stay on your record.

How long do you go to jail for a DUI conviction?

The amount of jail time you may receive at sentencing depends on a few factors. The first is the state that you live in. Some states have mandatory jail sentences (although in some it’s only a few days) for a first-time offender, while other states have no jail time for first-time offenders. Second, for each DUI conviction you receive, the odds of going to jail for a longer amount of time increase. Third, the amount of jail time you may receive can increase if there are any aggravating circumstances. One common example of an aggravating circumstance is the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system.

Should you plead guilty to a DUI?

Many people jump to conclusions and plead guilty quickly to “move on” from the incident. However, pleading guilty to a DUI means having a criminal conviction on your record for years to come, which can have serious negative effects on your life. Instead, you should always consider discussing your case with A Montana criminal defense attorney before you ever make any decisions on pleading guilty.

What happens when you get a DUI?

A DUI conviction can mean spending time in jail, having to pay fines and court costs, and attending drunk driving classes or entering into rehab. It could also mean having to deal with the effects of a driver’s license suspension, which could affect your job. In short, the penalties are serious, and you should treat them seriously.

When to Hire a Lawyer

It is in your best interest to get legal help early on in addressing your situation. There are times when hiring a lawyer quickly is critical to your case, such as if you are charged with a crime. It may also be in your best interest to have a lawyer review the fine print before signing legal documents. A lawyer can also help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve suffered a serious injury. For issues where money or property is at stake, having a lawyer guide you through the complexities of the legal system can save you time, hassle, and possibly a lot of grief in the long run.

Tips on Approaching an Initial Attorney Consultation

  • Use the consultation as a means of gaining a better understanding of your legal situation.
  • Ask the attorney how many cases similar to yours he/she has handled. An attorney’s experience and knowledge can speak to their expertise (or lack of) in addressing your situation.
  • Your attorney should be able to articulate roughly how long a case like yours will take to resolve and what sort of procedures to expect.
  • Determine how comfortable you are working with the lawyer and/or law firm.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney?

In general, how much an attorney costs will often depend on these four factors: billing method and pricing structure, type of legal work performed, law firm prestige, and attorney experience. Depending on the legal issue you are facing, an attorney may bill you by the hour, settle on a flat fee, or enter into a contingency fee agreement. The type of legal work you need help with will also play a role in cost incurred.

Common legal terms explained

Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.

Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.

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