31st October 2017
Driving under the influence (DUI), also known as driving while impaired (DWI), carries significant penalties in North Dakota. A DUI conviction carries both criminal and administrative penalties. This means that you risk losing your driver’s license in addition to receiving a fine or being sentenced to jail time.
Criminal Penalties of a DUI
On the criminal side of things, DUI offenses range from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C felony in North Dakota. The prosecution takes a number of factors into account, including the measured blood alcohol content (BAC), previous convictions for DUI, the presence of children in the vehicle, and any injuries caused by an accident. The penalties start at a $500 fine for a first offense with a BAC under .16 and can be as high as 20 years imprisonment if someone was killed.
Department of Transportation Penalties
Administratively, the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) can suspend a person’s driver’s license. The DOT’s decision to suspend the driver’s license is completely independent from the criminal proceeding. Similar to the range of criminal penalties, license suspension ranges from 91 days for a first offense to multiple years of suspension for felony-level DUIs. Additionally, the driver may have to submit to supervised probation for years following a conviction.
North Dakota may also require drivers convicted of DUI to participate in the “24/7 Sobriety Program.” The 24/7 Program requires total sobriety for up to two years, and involves significant daily costs. Participants in the 24/7 Program must pay the state for the costs of electronic monitoring, daily breath alcohol tests, and periodic drug testing. Alternatively, a defendant may be subject to random testing at the discretion of the probation officer.
If you have been charged with DUI/DWI, it is important to prepare your defense without delay. As noted above, DUI charges are not “cut and dry.” The severity of the criminal charges and administrative penalties depends heavily on the particular facts surrounding the arrest, the diligence (or lack thereof) of law enforcement, and the discretion of the prosecution. Having and experienced criminal defense lawyer that takes a comprehensive approach to DUI defense, beginning with a thorough examination of law enforcement’s initial investigation and arrest, is crucial.
When a law enforcement officer suspects a driver of driving under the influence, he or she must respect the constitutional rights of the driver. One of the most significant rights that we all enjoy is the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Practically what that means is that law enforcement cannot stop a vehicle without a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed. However, police officers often stop vehicles “on a hunch” without the required evidence of a crime. This is an area where the prevalence of squad car cameras is helpful to the public. Sand Law will immediately obtain copies of all video captured leading up to an arrest and analyze it against the existing law to determine if the initial stop was in fact constitutional. Field sobriety tests are also subject to examination, as they involve the officer’s subjective observation.
Sand Law’s defense attorneys have experience defending DUI charges across the state and consistently obtain favorable results for our clients. Our DUI defense lawyers navigate the administrative process to restore driving privileges and obtain less intrusive probation conditions. We understand the importance of having a valid driver’s license in order to get to work and complete everyday tasks. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact our office today for a free consultation. With attorneys in Watford City, Williston, Minot, and Bismarck, we are prepared to defend your rights anywhere in North Dakota.