As one of the most commonly charged crimes in the United States, DUIs and DWIs may be called different things in different jurisdictions, including driving under the influence, driving or operating while intoxicated, driving under the influence per se, or drunk in charge. 

Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol charges, and similar charges under other names, must meet three requirements:
While a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) in excess of .08 is often used to prove the accused was intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, one can also be charged as being “under the influence of alcohol” or “impaired”.

Under the influence, in Montana, means that the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is impaired and is notably distinguished from how this term is defined in numerous other jurisdictions. This is important in cases where the State is trying to prove that a person’s “prior” convictions in other jurisdictions should stack for the purposes of charging a DUI as a second or more, increasing penalties up into the felony level.

DUI penalties can result in jail time, loss of driving privileges, cancellation of insurance, and longer prison sentences. Furthermore, a DUI conviction in most instances prevents one from entering Canada.

If pulled over by a police officer on the road under the assumption of impaired driving, the driver may be subjected to a portable breathalyzer test and/or a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 8000 at the station. 

Watson Law recommends taking a blood or breath test if a police officer requests one, as refusing to do so can be held against the defendant in trial, resulting in a mandatory driver’s license suspension and/or imprisonment. However, there are certain circumstances when it would be inadvisable to take a breath or blood test.

Another common test police officers conduct during DUI investigations includes so-called field sobriety test maneuvers (FSTs) approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. FSTs may include a walk and turn, reciting the alphabet, and fine motor tests like touching your finger to your nose or balancing on one foot. These tests are often videotaped and the recorded performances can significantly affect DUI case defensibility. Moreover, they are not always accurate in determining impairment. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 persons identified as under the influence are actually not impaired!

Watson Law attorneys are certified in the same SFST courses that law officers must complete; we know exactly what to look for when preparing our client’s defense. Though SFSTs, blood, and breath test results may seem concrete, they are often compromised with false results. Improperly calibrated equipment and undertrained officers are not uncommon. 

With marijuana now legal in Montana and other states, residents are increasingly being accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, regardless of the amount in their system. Meanwhile, studies show insignificant effects of marijuana on actual driving performance. At Watson Law, we’re distinctly familiar with defending marijuana DUI cases, including the lack of scientific evidence for the correlation between marijuana and impaired motor vehicle operation. 

With our wealth of experience and knowledge in DUI defense, our attorneys will look at every possible angle to build the strongest DUI defense, weaken the prosecution’s case, and obtain the best possible result. Though driving under the influence charges are often time-consuming, challenging cases, Watson Law has a successful track record in defending those accused of driving impaired. 

Your chances of success require a nuanced and strategic understanding of the law that our team can provide. Call today for a free consultation concerning your DUI charge: (406) 586-4707.
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Bozeman, MT 59715
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