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North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in North Dakota, carrying severe consequences for offenders. This guide provides insights into state laws, penalties, and what to expect if charged.

What Constitutes a DUI in North Dakota?

North Dakota takes driving under the influence (DUI) seriously, with strict laws in place to prevent impaired driving. Let’s break down what can lead to a DUI charge in the state:

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

• General limit: 0.08% for drivers 21 and older
• Commercial drivers: 0.04%
• Drivers under 21: 0.02% (zero tolerance policy)A BAC at or above these limits is considered “per se” DUI, meaning the BAC alone is enough for a conviction, regardless of visible impairment.

Impairment Without BAC Testing

You can still be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit or if no test was performed. This can happen if:

• Your driving ability is noticeably impaired by alcohol
• You’re under the influence of drugs (illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter)
• A combination of alcohol and drugs affects your driving

Actual Physical Control

North Dakota’s DUI laws also apply to being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while impaired. This means:

• You don’t have to be driving to get a DUI
• Sitting in the driver’s seat with keys accessible can lead to charges
• The vehicle doesn’t need to be running

Factors Leading to DUI Stops

Officers look for signs of impaired driving, such as:

• Weaving or swerving
• Driving too slow or too fast
• Erratic braking
• Delayed reactions to traffic signals
• Driving without headlights at night

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Important Notes

• Open container laws: It’s illegal to have an open alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle
• You can be charged with DUI even if parked
• Prescription medications can lead to a DUI if they impair your driving

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

DUI Offenses and Penalties in North Dakota

Understanding the penalties for DUI offenses in North Dakota is crucial for anyone facing such charges. The severity of the penalties depends on factors like your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the number of prior DUI convictions within the past seven years. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the penalties for each offense:

First Offense DUI

A first DUI offense in North Dakota is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties include:

  • Fines:
    • Minimum $500 fine if BAC is under 0.16%
    • $750 fine if BAC is 0.16% or more
  • Jail Time:
    • No minimum jail sentence unless BAC is 0.16% or higher
    • Mandatory two days in jail if BAC is 0.16% or more
    • Up to 30 days in jail depending on the case specifics
  • License Suspension Period:
    • 91-day suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • 180-day suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • Additional Requirements:
    • Mandatory addiction evaluation program

Second Offense DUI (within 7 years)

A second DUI offense within seven years carries more severe penalties:

  • Fines:
    • Minimum $1,500 fine
  • Jail Time:
    • Minimum 10 days in jail
  • License Suspension Period:
    • 365-day suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • Two-year suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • Additional Requirements:
    • 360 days participation in 24/7 sobriety programs
    • Mandatory addiction evaluation

Third Offense DUI (within 7 years)

A third DUI offense within seven years is classified as a Class A misdemeanor:

  • Fines:
    • Minimum $2,000 fine
  • Jail Time:
    • Minimum 120 days in jail
  • License Suspension Period:
    • Two-year suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • Three-year suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • Additional Requirements:
    • 360 days participation in 24/7 sobriety programs
    • 360 days supervised probation
    • Mandatory addiction evaluation

Fourth and Subsequent Offenses (within 15 years)

A fourth or subsequent DUI offense within 15 years is classified as a Class C felony:

  • Fines:
    • Minimum $2,000 fine
  • Jail Time:
    • Minimum one year and one day in jail
  • License Suspension Period:
    • Two-year suspension
  • Additional Requirements:
    • Two years participation in 24/7 sobriety programs
    • Two years supervised probation
    • Mandatory addiction evaluationNorth Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Restricted License

After a DUI conviction, you may be eligible for a restricted license, which allows you to drive under certain conditions:

  • Eligibility:
    • Complete a mandatory “hard suspension” period (typically 14-30 days)
    • Install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
    • Enroll in the 24/7 sobriety program (for some offenses)

Chemical Tests and Implied Consent in North Dakota

North Dakota has strict laws regarding chemical tests and implied consent for drivers suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). Understanding these laws can help you navigate the legal landscape if you ever find yourself in such a situation.

What is Implied Consent?

Implied consent means that by driving on North Dakota’s roads, you automatically agree to submit to chemical tests if a law enforcement officer suspects you of DUI. This includes tests for:

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
  • Presence of Drugs

Types of Chemical Tests

Law enforcement officers can request different types of chemical tests to determine your BAC or the presence of drugs:

  • Breath Test: Often conducted using a breathalyzer device.
  • Blood Test: Requires a sample of your blood, usually taken at a medical facility.
  • Urine Test: Less common but used in some cases.
  • Oral Fluid Test: Used to detect the presence of drugs.

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

 

When Are Chemical Tests Administered?

Chemical tests are typically administered after you have been placed under arrest for DUI. The arresting officer will decide which type of test to administer. Here’s how it works:

  • Arrest: You must be lawfully arrested for DUI or Actual Physical Control (APC) of a vehicle.
  • Test Selection: The officer chooses the type of test (breath, blood, urine, or oral fluid).
  • Warrant Requirement: For blood or urine tests, the officer must obtain a warrant before administering the test.

Consequences of Refusing a Chemical Test

Refusing to submit to a chemical test in North Dakota can lead to severe penalties, including:

  • License Suspension:
    • First Refusal: 180-day suspension
    • Second Refusal (within 7 years): Two-year suspension
    • Third or Subsequent Refusal (within 7 years): Three-year suspension
  • Criminal Charges: Refusing a breath or urine test can be a separate crime, punishable similarly to a DUI.

Implied Consent Advisory

Before administering a chemical test, the law enforcement officer must read you the North Dakota implied consent advisory. This advisory informs you that:

  • You are required to take a chemical test.
  • Refusing the test can result in a license suspension for 180 days to three years.
  • Refusing a breath or urine test is a separate crime.

Importance of the Implied Consent Advisory

If the officer fails to properly inform you of the implied consent advisory, the chemical test results may be inadmissible in court. This means:

  • The test results cannot be used against you in criminal or administrative proceedings.
  • Your license suspension may be contested.

Legal Recourse

If you refuse a chemical test and face penalties, you have the right to:

  • Request an Administrative Hearing: Contest the suspension of your driving privileges.
  • Consult an Attorney: An experienced DUI attorney can help you navigate the legal process and potentially reduce the penalties.

License Suspension and Restricted Licenses in North Dakota DUI Cases

When you’re convicted of a DUI in North Dakota, you’ll face a mandatory license suspension. However, you may be eligible for a restricted license, also known as a temporary restricted license (TRL) or work permit, which allows limited driving privileges. Here’s what you need to know about license suspensions and restricted licenses in North Dakota:

License Suspension Periods

The length of your license suspension depends on several factors:

  • First Offense:
    • 91-day suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • 180-day suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • Second Offense (within 7 years):
    • 365-day suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • 2-year suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher
  • Third Offense (within 7 years):
    • 2-year suspension if BAC is below 0.18%
    • 3-year suspension if BAC is 0.18% or higher

Qualifying for a Restricted License

To be eligible for a restricted license in North Dakota, you must meet several requirements:

  1. Complete the “Hard Suspension” Period:
    • You must serve a portion of your suspension without any driving privileges
    • This period typically lasts 14-30 days, depending on your offense
  2. Install an Ignition Interlock Device:
    • This device prevents your vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath
    • You’re responsible for installation and maintenance costs
  3. Enroll in the 24/7 Sobriety Program (for some offenses):
    • Required for second or subsequent DUI offenses
    • Involves regular alcohol testing to ensure sobriety
  4. Meet Age Requirements:
    • You must be at least 18 years old to qualify for a restricted license
  5. Submit an Application:
    • Complete and submit the TRL Application (SFN 2254) to the North Dakota Department of Transportation

Restrictions on Your Driving Privileges

If granted a restricted license, your driving will be limited to:

  • Work-related purposes
  • Educational activities
  • Essential life maintenance needs (e.g., medical appointments, grocery shopping)

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Important Considerations

  • Non-Commercial Vehicles Only: Restricted licenses do not apply to commercial motor vehicles
  • Cancellation for Violations: If you violate the terms of your restricted license or the 24/7 Sobriety Program, your TRL may be canceled and not reissued
  • Reinstatement Fees: You’ll need to pay reinstatement fees before your full driving privileges are restored

Steps to Reinstate Your License

  1. Complete your suspension period
  2. Fulfill all court-ordered requirements (e.g., alcohol education programs)
  3. Pay the required reinstatement fees
  4. Provide proof of insurance (SR-22 form may be required)
  5. Retake driving tests if your license was revoked (not just suspended)

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Additional Consequences of DUI in North Dakota

While the standard penalties for DUI in North Dakota are severe, certain circumstances can lead to even harsher consequences. Let’s explore these additional penalties in detail:

DUI with a Minor in the Vehicle

If you’re caught driving under the influence with a minor (under 18) in your vehicle, you face more severe penalties:

  • Jail Time: Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine: Up to $2,000
  • Charge Classification: This offense is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor
  • Additional Consequences:
    • Mandatory participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program
    • Potential loss of child custody or visitation rights
    • Increased insurance rates

Criminal Vehicular Injury

If your DUI results in serious injury to another person, you may face criminal vehicular injury charges:

  • Prison Time: Up to 5 years in prison
  • Fine: Up to $10,000
  • Charge Classification: Class C felony
  • License Revocation: Minimum of 2 years
  • Additional Consequences:
    • Mandatory addiction evaluation and treatment
    • Restitution to the victim for medical expenses and lost wages
    • Potential civil lawsuits from injured parties

Criminal Vehicular Homicide

The most severe consequence of DUI occurs when it results in someone’s death:

  • Prison Time: Up to 20 years in prison
  • Fine: Up to $20,000
  • Charge Classification: Class A felony
  • License Revocation: Minimum of 3 years
  • Additional Consequences:
    • Mandatory addiction evaluation and treatment
    • Lifelong criminal record as a felon
    • Potential wrongful death civil lawsuits

Other Potential Consequences

Beyond these specific charges, a DUI conviction in North Dakota can have far-reaching effects:

  • Employment: Difficulty finding or maintaining employment, especially in jobs requiring driving
  • Professional Licenses: Potential suspension or revocation of professional licenses
  • Education: Impact on college admissions or financial aid eligibility
  • Immigration: Possible deportation for non-citizens
  • Personal Relationships: Strain on family and personal relationships
  • Financial Impact: Long-term costs including higher insurance rates, legal fees, and lost wages

North Dakota DUI Laws: A Comprehensive Guide

Remember, North Dakota’s DUI laws are designed to prevent these tragic outcomes. The best way to avoid these severe consequences is to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Always plan for a safe ride home if you intend to drink.

Seeking Legal Help

If you’re facing a DUI charge in North Dakota, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced DUI attorney. They can help you understand your rights, explore potential defenses, and work to minimize the impact of a DUI conviction on your life. Remember, North Dakota DUI laws are complex and subject to change. This guide provides general information, but each case is unique. Always consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation. By understanding North Dakota’s DUI laws and the potential consequences of driving under the influence, you can make informed decisions and prioritize safe driving practices.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and is provided as is without any guarantee of accuracy. If you need a professional legal opinion, click here to send in your legal request.

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