No one expects to face driving under the influence (DUI) charges, and facing felony charges can be even more of a shock. If you’re facing these charges in Northwest, MT, it’s vital to have the right representation – a Montana criminal defense lawyer who fully comprehends the intricacies and dynamics of Montana DUI law but also approaches your situation with empathy.
Given how much is at stake when dealing with a felony DUI charge, this professional help is essential. If you’re facing felony DUI charges in Kalispell, or any other towns in Northwest Montana, you don’t have to face this alone.
How the Law Office of Ryan Peabody Can Help if You’re Arrested for a Felony DUI in Montana
Facing a felony DUI charge in Northwest Montana can be scary and overwhelming, as there are significant consequences that can follow. Understanding your rights and having dedicated, competent legal representation is crucial at this challenging time, which is where the criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Ryan Peabody comes in.
Our Kalispell criminal defense attorney has 12 years of experience and was formerly a public defender. He understands the local criminal justice system as well as anyone. When you hire him and the rest of our legal team, we’ll do everything in our power to help you achieve a favorable outcome for your case. Here’s how we can help:
One of the first things we will do is conduct an exhaustive investigation into your case. We will scrutinize law enforcement conduct during your arrest, review police reports and chemical tests if available, speak with witnesses, look for surveillance footage, and more.
Negotiating With Prosecutors
Our team has a wealth of experience negotiating with prosecutors. This gives us an upper hand in your case as we can leverage our relationships and knowledge to work towards the best possible outcome, such as a reduction in charges or a more lenient sentence instead of taking your chances at trial.
Filing Motions To Suppress
If evidence was obtained illegally or there were procedural mistakes during your arrest, we can file motions to suppress this from being used against you.
Representation at Trial
When negotiations are not adequate or you don’t want to accept a deal, we will represent you at trial. We have a deep understanding of Montana DUI laws and courtroom tactics that can significantly help your case. This could include things like cross-examining prosecution witnesses to find weaknesses in their testimonies and presenting a compelling narrative in your defense.
If you need help from a criminal defense attorney after being arrested for felony DUI in Kalispell, we’re here for you. Contact our criminal defense law firm to schedule a free consultation with our trusted Montana DUI attorney.
Overview of Felony DUI in Montana
Understanding when a DUI becomes classified as a felony allows you to better comprehend the gravity of such an offense and the implications. While both misdemeanors and felonies carry serious consequences in Montana, dealing with a felony charge is significantly more severe.
Typically if it’s your first offense for driving under the influence (DUI) or if there weren’t any injuries resulting from your actions, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
When a DUI Is Charged as a Felony in Northwest MT
In the following circumstances, you will likely be charged with a felony DUI:
Inflicting Serious Harm or Death
If you cause severe injury to or the death of another person while driving under the influence, your charges will be elevated to a felony. You could potentially face additional homicide-related charges as well.
Multiple DUI Convictions
If, within the last 10 years, you’ve accumulated three or more convictions for DUI offenses – including a wet reckless – you will face a felony charge.
Prior Felony DUI Conviction
Having a previous conviction of a felony DUI sets the stage for any subsequent DUI to be charged as a felony, regardless of whether this new incident would typically be classified as a misdemeanor.
It’s essential to understand the criteria for felony DUI charges so you know what to expect and what you’re facing if you are arrested.
What Does It Mean To Be Under the Influence in Montana?
The term “under the influence” has a very specific meaning under Montana law. If your BAC measures at .08% or higher, you are considered to be under the influence according to state law and can be charged with a DUI.
However, if your BAC is less than .08%, that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with driving under the influence. For a BAC between .05% and .08%, prosecutors can argue that while below the legal limit, the alcohol in your system made it so you were incapable of operating your vehicle in a safe manner.
What Are the Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions in Montana?
If you’re facing felony DUI charges, it’s important to have knowledge about the potential consequences so you know what to expect.
Felony DUI That Result in Bodily Harm or Death
When your actions have serious consequences, such as causing substantial injury or death to another person involved in the accident, you face significant prison time, potentially up to life in prison if you’re charged with a homicide-related charge as well.
You could also be fined up to $5,000 in fines, have your incense suspended for up to 5 years, and attend DUI school for up to 2.5 years.
Felony DUI Based on Prior Convictions
The consequences for a felony DUI based on prior convictions are not as severe as those involving injury or death, but it’s still something to take seriously. In these cases, you face up to 3 years in jail, a $1,000 fine, a suspension of your driver’s license for up to 4 years, and DUI school for up to 2.5 years.
Apart from above mentioned direct consequences, it’s important to be aware of the various collateral consequences that can arise as well, including:
One possible challenge is the employment implications you face because of a DUI conviction. You could be prohibited from holding certain driving-related jobs, and employers who run background checks may have reason to not hire you.
Additionally, securing housing could potentially become problematic. With a felony on your record, landlords may choose not to rent you an apartment or property.
Your auto insurance rates are likely to skyrocket following a felony DUI conviction, as insurance companies will view you as high risk.
A felony DUI conviction can also affect your immigration status. If you are not a US citizen, you could face deportation proceedings or be prohibited from obtaining a visa, a green card, or citizenship.
In light of these profound implications, a charge for a felony DUI should be taken lightly.
What Defenses Can I Raise After I’m Arrested for Felony DUI in Montana?
When facing a Felony DUI charge in Montana, it might feel like the odds are stacked against you. However, there are potential defense strategies your attorney can use to challenge your charges or mitigate your sentence:
You Weren’t Under the Influence:
One of the first lines of defense is that you were not under the influence when you were driving.
This can be demonstrated by showing flaws in the breathalyzer or blood test results, challenging the arresting officer’s field sobriety testing procedures or testimony, and noting discrepancies in witness testimony about your behavior and appearance, among other things.
Lack of Serious Injury or Death
If no one was severely injured or killed in the incident, it might be possible for your attorney to argue a reduction of felony charges down to a misdemeanor DUI.
No Prior DUI Convictions
If you have a clear record with no prior convictions for DUI, wet reckless, or felony DUI, this will cause the DUI to be charged as a misdemeanor and not a felony.
Inaccurate Breathalyzer Equipment
If the breathalyzer used by law enforcement wasn’t properly calibrated or maintained, this could result in inaccurate readings and, ultimately, wrongful DUI convictions. Your attorney may be able to challenge the results based on these inaccuracies.
Motion To Suppress
This defense involves challenging the manner in which the evidence against you was collected. Your attorney may file a motion to suppress if there were procedural mistakes or your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest, search, seizure, detention, or interrogation.
The right defense strategy can make a significant difference when facing felony DUI charges, underscoring the importance of retaining an experienced attorney to guide you through this complex legal process.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our Kalispell Felony DUI Attorney
Facing a felony DUI charge can be overwhelming, but remember, you are entitled to legal representation and a comprehensive defense. If you find yourself dealing with these charges, we’re here to help. Contact the Law Office of Ryan Peabody to schedule a free case review with a Montana felony DUI attorney.