31st March 2020
Understanding Minot, North Dakota DUI Laws
Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence (DWI/DUI) is one of the most common criminal charges brought in Minot, Ward County, and across the State of North Dakota.
In 2016, the United States Supreme Court heard two DWI/DUI cases from North Dakota, one from Morton County and one from Bowman County. Driving under the influence cases generally do not receive so much attention, but the high Court saw an opportunity to address a problem in many states’ DWI testing laws. Before 2016, the courts in North Dakota, including the North Dakota Supreme Court, had upheld the law stating that it was a crime (carrying the threat of jail time) to refuse a breath, blood, or urine test of blood alcohol content (BAC) following an arrest for suspected DWI. In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court found that this law was unconstitutional. As a result, some convictions were overturned, and some drivers could withdraw guilty pleas made under the threat of jail time for refusing the test.
Minot North Dakota Supreme Court Verdicts
Though this case received a lot of attention last year, the law ultimately did not change very significantly. The Supreme Court allowed the state to maintain most of its DWI/DUI testing laws, known as the “implied consent” law. The essence of the law, both prior to and after the Supreme Court decision in 2016, is that drivers have given their consent to blood alcohol testing by taking advantage of their driving privileges. The Court struck down the possibility of criminal penalties (e.g., jail time) for refusing a BAC test, but the states could continue to impose administrative sanctions for test refusal. What that looks like for most people is an immediate loss of their driver’s license followed by an administrative hearing to determine further consequences. The Supreme Court also allowed the state to continue using blood and urine tests if the state first obtains a warrant, and breath tests are still allowed without a warrant.
The bottom line is that the Supreme Court did reign in the state law to some extent, the principle of implied consent generally still applies and the state can impose immediate consequences on drivers for refusing a BAC test.
Unique Minot, North Dakota DUI Laws
Minot introduces some unique issues as well. As noted by Minot Air Force Base Legal Office, the gates of the AFB are essentially 24-hour per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year DWI/DUI checkpoints. Of course, entering an airbase involves a drastic reduction in a driver’s civil rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Additionally, a DUI can carry significant consequences beyond the state criminal charges or administrative penalties. Active duty service members should contact the office of Area Defense Counsel first, but may also want to engage civilian defense counsel to assist with state criminal charges or administrative penalties.
North Dakota DUI Penalties
The penalties for DUI offenses in North Dakota can be severe. North Dakota also increases this severity with every repeat offense. The reasoning for this is driving under the influence comes with a massive risk of causing severe car accidents that can easily take the life of someone that contributed no fault whatsoever. To discourage this behavior, not just North Dakota but almost every state has put severe DUI penalties into practice.
First DUI Offenses
First DUI offenses in North Dakota are considered Class B misdemeanors. The fine for a first offense DUI is $500 for a BAC below .16 and $750 for a BAC of .16 or higher. Additionally, a BAC of .16 or above can get you a two-day jail sentence.
Those convicted of a DUI in North Dakota can have their driver’s license suspended. For a BAC below .18, the suspension period is 91 days. The license suspension can be for up to 180 days for DUI with a BAC of .18 or higher.
Second DUI Offenses
Second DUI offenses within a 7-year period carry an even larger penalty. The fine can be up to $1,500 for a second offense DUI, which is a Class B misdemeanor. Additionally, a person convicted of a second DUI offense can receive up to 10 days in jail.
Second DUI offenses can get you a license suspension for up to 1 year if your BAC is below .18. However, for a BAC of .18 or higher, the suspension can be for up to 2 years.
Third DUI Offenses
For a third DUI offense within 7 years, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. Therefore, the fine is $2,000 with a suggested jail sentence of up to 120 days. People convicted of a third DUI offense in North Dakota may also be subject to a 360-day supervised probation.
For a BAC below .18, the license suspension period is 2 years. However, if your BAC is .18 or greater, your license may be suspended for up to 3 years.
Fourth DUI Offenses
Finally, for a fourth and subsequent DUI offenses within a 15-year period, the charge is a Class C felony. This means that a person convicted can receive up to 1 year and 1 day imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. Additionally, someone convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI may receive probation for up to 2 years.
Seek an Experienced Minot, North Dakota Criminal Defense Attorney
Sand Law’s experienced DWI/DUI attorneys in Minot always remain current with the development of implied consent law in North Dakota and in the nation’s Supreme Court, and stand ready to defend your rights in case of a DWI arrest or a warrant-less BAC test. In addition to navigating potential criminal penalties, we represent clients throughout the administrative hearing process, including through a judicial review of an administrative hearing. If you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI, it is important to initiate your legal defense promptly. Our offices are conveniently located in Minot to serve the city and all of Ward County. Sand Law, PLLC is one of the state’s premier DWI/DUI defense firms, with extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights throughout criminal proceedings and the administrative hearing process. Contact us today for a consultation if you are facing DWI/DUI or test-refusal charges either by reaching us online or our office at 701-609-1510.
Image Attribution: Joint Base Charleston