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What should drivers know about Montana’s implied consent law?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Even though Montana prizes the individual freedoms of its residents, state law prohibits drinking and driving. Sadly, though, according to the Montana Department of Transportation, the state also has among the highest fatality rates from drunk driving in the country.

As a result, law enforcement agencies around the state regularly have enhanced operations to catch motorists who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Officers must have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI offense, though. Failing a breath test gives them the legally required probable cause.

What is implied consent?

As you might suspect, officers usually do not hold down DUI suspects and force them to breathe into testing devices. Indeed, to collect a breath sample, officers need your cooperation. You might not realize, though, that you have already agreed to cooperate simply by driving in Montana. That is, you have given your implied consent for chemical testing.

Can you refuse?

Even though you have impliedly consented to breath testing, you have a right to refuse to provide a breath sample. If you do, however, you are likely to encounter some serious consequences. Specifically, state officials will immediately suspend your driving privileges. This suspension is likely to last for six months.

Refusing to provide a breath sample also might not help you avoid a DUI conviction, as officers may also have other evidence to use against you. Ultimately, though, because the loss of your driving privileges is likely to affect all aspects of your life, you might want to weigh your options before refusing a breath test.