DUI vs. Refusal

The DUI is a criminal charge and involves arrest, booking at a jail, and appearance on the charge in court.  Most DUI charges are misdemeanors and are handled in the city, municipal or justice court in the county where you are arrested.  The court depends on which agency arrested you.  If it is a Highway Patrol or County Sheriff, your citation will go through a justice court and the prosecutor will likely be in the County Attorney’s Office.  If you are arrested by a City Police Officer, your citation will likely go through a city or municipal court and the prosecutor will be in the City Attorney’s Office.

Beginning with a  4th offense, your case will go to District Court.  

The Court  assesses the jail time, fines, education programs and other penalties and establish the conditions for formal or informal probation.  

In a jury trial on the criminal charge, the jury is instructed as follows relative to the refusal.  Be sure to read the blue, itallicized section:

You are instructed that any person who operates a vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public shall be deemed to have given his/her consent to a chemical test of his/her blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his/her blood if arrested by a peace officer for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.  The arresting officer may designate which one of the aforesaid tests shall be administered.  In determining the defendant's guilt or innocence, you may consider proof of the defendant's refusal to submit to such a test along with the other competent evidence in the case. The defendant has the right to refuse the test.

A refusal may be used against you.  A jury has the right to consider a refusal in the same way that we might view running from law enforcement officers as evidence of guilt.

The refusal, itself, is currently a civil matter between you and DMV.  Your license will be acted on according to rules maintained by DMV – you may lose your privelege to drive in this and other states.  So, if you get a DUI in Wyoming or elsewhere in the U.S., that state will tell Montana and Montana will take the action dictated under Montana law.

If you aren’t licensed in Montana and you get a DUI, Montana will report a conviction to your home state and they will take action.  But, regardless of what your home state does, you will not be allowed to drive in Montana.