Were you seriously injured by a drunk or drugged driver?
Was your loved one killed?
Let us fight for you.
Montana is a wonderful place to call home. With the friendly locals, a high quality of life and endless acres of stunning scenery, it’s no wonder more and more people are moving to Big Sky Country. However, there’s a dark side to life in Montana, particularly when it comes to drinking and driving.
Montana has one of the highest rates of drunk driving deaths in the nation per vehicle mile traveled. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) reported that a shocking 64 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities in the state were the result of intoxicated and impaired driving.
A majority of drunk driving crashes that result in serious injury or death involve young male drivers speeding on rural roads at night. Driving is a privilege not a right.
If you or a loved one were the victims of an impaired driver, don’t wait to get help. The clock on filing your injury claim is ticking. There’s no better time than right now to take a close look at your legal options. Our experienced car accident lawyers in Great Falls, MT can help you seek fair compensation that’s appropriate for your losses. While we can’t go back in time and prevent this from happening to you in the first place, we can fight to secure the justice you deserve. And we will.
Our Montana drunk driving injury lawyers will fight for you and your family
Any car accident can leave you feeling scared, confused and angry if you’re hurt or your vehicle is damaged beyond repair.
But crashes caused by a drunk driver are especially infuriating because your life and health were put at risk for no other reason than the other driver made a reckless and stupid decision.
These feelings of frustration and anger are justified, but don’t let them cloud your judgment and cause you to forget that you have a case to prove if you want to win compensation from the other driver or their insurance company.
There are many important deadlines you have to meet and paperwork you must submit.
We can help you obtain reimbursement and compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium (income, companionship, child care, etc.)
- Emotional distress (pain and suffering)
- Punitive damages (money given as punishment)
At Murphy Law Firm, our experienced legal team in Great Falls, Montana fights exclusively for accident victims. We have a proven track record of helping hardworking Montanans seek every penny of compensation after a devastating accident or injury. To help build your DUI case, we will conduct a thorough crash scene investigation, interview all key witnesses and perform exhaustive background research. We will calculate the full impact of the accident on your life—including past, current and future expenses.
Attorney Thomas J. Murphy
Founder of Murphy Law Firm
Montana’s legal system is complex and difficult to navigate. From the start, we’ll work hard to prove the facts of your case. We’ll thoroughly investigate the accident to prove liability, and to calculate your present and future damages. Let our family help yours by fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Murphy Law Firm has successfully represented thousands of Montanans, including complex workers’ compensation claims.
Sobering Montana drunk driving statistics
There are many factors that might explain why Montana has such a high fatality rate when it comes to drunk driving accidents. One potential cause is how rural the state is. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Montana has a higher percentage of rural vehicle miles traveled than any other state. Such large expanses of rural driving mean that crash victims are often far from hospitals and medical facilities, which increases the risk that a serious injury becomes a fatal one.
As these statistics show, all people who live in Montana or travel through the state are at higher risk of suffering a fatal collision caused by impaired driving:
- In 2018, 64 percent of all traffic fatalities in Montana were the result of impaired driving. This is up from 61 percent during 2017.
- Montana’s I-90 is the most dangerous stretch of highway in the entire nation when it comes to DUI fatalities.
- Between 2009 and 2018, over 14,000 people were injured or killed in fatal crashes involving an impaired driver in Montana. That’s almost half the population of Helena.
- The top 5 Montana counties with the highest percentages of crashes involving drunk driving from 2009-2018 were Yellowstone (16.3 percent), Missoula (11.2 percent), Flathead (9.8 percent), Gallatin (9.5 percent) and Cascade (7.3 percent) counties.
- The top 5 Montana cities with the highest percentage of crashes involving impaired male drivers from 2009-2018 were Billings (9.7 percent), Missoula (5 percent), Great Falls (4.8 percent), Bozeman (3.1 percent) and Helena (2.2 percent).
- Between 2003 and 2012, 932 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Montana.
- In 2012, the highest rates of alcohol-involved death occurred in the 21-34 age range. The fatality rate for this age group was 21.4 (per 100,000 residents), significantly higher than the national rate of 6.7.
- During 2015, male drivers were involved in almost triple the number of impaired driver crashes as female drivers, and significantly more fatal and serious injury crashes.
Montana drunk driving laws
DUI laws and penalties
Any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is considered alcohol-impaired under Montana law.
But it’s important to understand that an impaired driving offense doesn’t just mean driving while drunk on alcohol. Getting behind the driver’s wheel while impaired by any drugs — including prescription drugs, marijuana, illegal drugs or any other drug—or any combination of drugs and alcohol—is against the law.
According to Montana Code Annotated 61-8-401 (Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs—definitions):
(1) It is unlawful and punishable…for a person who is under the influence of: (a) alcohol to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public; (b) a dangerous drug to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state; (c) any other drug to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state; or (d) alcohol and any dangerous or other drug to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state.
In Montana, the act of impaired driving is broken into the following individual offenses:
- DUI. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can be convicted of DUI even if your BAC is below 0.08 percent, if there’s sufficient evidence that you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol in a way that inhibits your ability to drive safely. (§ 61-8-401)
- Excessive BAC. Operating a vehicle with excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC), meaning above 0.08 for non-commercial drivers, 0.04 for commercial drivers and 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21. (§ 61-8-406)
- Excessive marijuana concentration. Operating a vehicle with excessive marijuana concentration blood levels, which means 5 ng/ml of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or more. This law applies to all commercial and non-commercial drivers, including those who are registered cardholders in Montana’s Marijuana Program. (§ 61-8-411)
- Aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI is committed if a driver has a BAC of over 0.16 percent, is already subject to ignition interlock restrictions, was driving with a suspended or revoked driver license, has a prior refusal to provide BAC evidence or has a pending charge or prior DUI/BAC conviction. (§ 61-8-465)
The penalties and punishments for a DUI offense vary depending on many factors like the driver’s level of intoxication, the number of prior offenses they have, and whether anyone was injured or killed. A person commits their 2nd DUI offense if it has been less than 10 years since their 1st conviction. A person commits their 3rd offense if they have ever received 2 prior DUI convictions, regardless of how much time has passed. A 4th DUI conviction is a felony.
Here’s a breakdown of the main penalties for impaired driving in Montana:
|DUI Penalties in Montana|
|Penalty||1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense||Enhanced Penalty (1st Offense)|
|Jail Time||24 hrs – 6 months||7 days – 1 year||30 days – 1 year||48 hours – 1 year|
|Fines||$600 -$1,000||$1,200 -$2,000||$2,500 -$5,000||$1,000|
|License Suspension||6 months||1 year||1 year||6 months|
|Ignition Interlock Device||Yes (discretion of court)||Yes (discretion of court)||Yes (discretion of court)||Yes (discretion of court)|
Disclaimer: This table is a simple summary of DUI penalties in Montana. It may not represent all aspects of the law that may apply in individual cases.
In addition to these penalties, anyone charged with 2 or more DUI/BAC offenses can be required to enroll in the state’s 24-7 Sobriety Program as a condition of probation or parole. Complete abstinence from alcohol and drug use is required. Offenders must submit breath tests twice per day or wear an ankle monitor that measures the level of alcohol in their bodies. This testing is paid for by the offender and failing to be tested results in the person being detained at the local jail. After a successful rollout of this program in Lewis and Clark County, the 2011 Montana legislature passed House Bill 106, known as the “Montana 24-7 Sobriety Program Act.” Today, most counties in Montana are running this program.
Dram shop laws
In Montana, the victims of a car accident involving an impaired driver — or the family of a person who was killed in a fatal DUI crash — can file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party in certain situations under the state’s “dram shop law.” Third parties that can be sued include alcohol vendors, bars or any private individual who provided alcohol to the at-fault driver.
According to Montana’s Dram Shop Act (27-1-710), a third party can have “civil liability for injuries involving alcohol consumption” (meaning they can be held liable and sued) if:
- The person consuming alcohol was under the legal drinking age (21) and they knew it,
- The person consuming alcohol was under the legal drinking age and they didn’t make a reasonable attempt to determine the consumer’s age,
- The person consuming alcohol was visibly intoxicated, or
- The third party forced or coerced another person to consume alcohol, or falsely told the person that their beverage contained no alcohol.
If one of the above scenarios is true, then the victims of a drunk driving accident can bring a civil action against the third party within 2 years after the sale or service of alcohol that led to the crash. The total liability for noneconomic damages may not exceed $250,000, and punitive damages may not exceed $250,000.
Common drunk driving injuries
Another rarely talked about consequence of drunk driving is that an at-fault driver has to live with their mistake, knowing that another person was seriously hurt or killed as a result of their bad choices. In some cases, the intoxicated driver may, themselves, suffer serious injuries that affect them for the rest of their lives.
Get the compensation you’re owed for your DUI car accident injuries
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Montana, and any person found doing so will be charged with a DUI offense in criminal court, which may include penalties including jail time and fines.
If you’re hit by a drunk driver in Montana, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover economic damages (such as medical expenses, property damage and lost wages) and noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering). There’s also a possibility of recovering punitive damages if you can prove that the driver who caused the accident acted with actual malice or gross negligence.
Even if you were partly liable for the collision, Montana’s modified comparative negligence law makes it possible for you to recover some compensation. But you must take action immediately. Under Montana’s statute of limitations, you only have 3 years from the date of the crash to bring a personal injury claim against the drunk driver.
If you were injured by a drunk or drugged driver, act now to learn about your legal rights.
Schedule your free consultation today to get answers.
Why hire Murphy Law Firm?
- We put our clients first
- We ONLY represent the injured
- Compassionate, aggressive and personal legal representation
- Licensed attorneys with extensive legal knowledge
- 65+ years of combined experience
- We’ve recovered millions of dollars in settlements for our clients
- Contingency fee (you don’t pay unless we win)
- Free consultation
“I want to thank each and every one of you for helping me on my case. Matt I want to thank you the most for all of your incredible hard work. Thanks again.”