As a criminal offense, Driving Under the Influence is unique because the potential consequences extend beyond the criminal penalties. That’s because a DUI arrest may result in the loss of your driving privileges, which is an administrative sanction as opposed to a criminal penalty. While these administrative sanctions will be addressed in a future post, this blog will focus on the potential criminal penalties of a North Dakota DUI.
There’s a lot at stake for anyone charged with a DUI, but just how much of your freedom hangs in the balance depends on a variety of factors including: whether there are prior DUI convictions; the test result; whether there were children in the vehicle; and whether anyone was injured or killed.
In North Dakota, first and second DUI convictions within a 7 year time period are Class B misdemeanors. That means the maximum penalty that can be imposed is 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. While this maximum penalty represents the worst case scenario, DUI convictions carry mandatory minimum penalties that must be imposed if the charge results in conviction.
First Offense (within the past 7 years): For a first offense with a refusal or a test result below a .016% alcohol concentration, the minimum mandatory sentence includes a $500 fine and an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed addiction treatment program.
First Offense Aggravated: For a first offense with a chemical test result of .016% or greater, the sentence must include a fine of at least $750, 2 days imprisonment, and an addiction evaluation.
Second Offense (within the past 7 years): The minimum mandatory penalties for a second offense within 7 years are significantly more onerous than for a first offense. Upon conviction for a second offense, a court must impose at least 10 days imprisonment; a $1,500 fine; and an addiction evaluation. Finally, a second offense conviction requires participation in the 24/7 sobriety program for 360 days. Essentially, that means having to stop in at the local jail twice a day to blow into a handheld breath testing device or wearing an ankle monitor to prove that you haven’t been drinking.
In North Dakota, a Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 360 days in jail and a $3,000 fine. A third DUI in a 7 year period and a first DUI with a child in the vehicle both fall into this category.
Third Offense (within the past 7 years): For a third offense DUI the minimum mandatory sentence includes 120 days imprisonment, a $2,000 fine, and an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed addiction treatment program. If this evaluation is completed prior to sentencing then the court can suspend all but 60 days imprisonment. Additionally, a third offense conviction requires at least 360 days of supervised probation and participation in the 24/7 program for at least that long.
DUI while being accompanied by a minor (first offense): Although a conviction for a DUI with a child in the vehicle is a Class A Misdemeanor and may include the maximum penalties associated with that level of offense, the mandatory minimum for such a conviction depends on any prior convictions and whether the the test result exceeds .016% on a first offense. In other words, the presence of a child in the vehicle does not affect the mandatory minimum.
The maximum penalty that can be imposed for a Class C Felony includes up to 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. A fourth offense within 15 years, a second DUI with a minor, and Criminal Vehicular injury are all DUI offenses that fall into this category.
Fourth Offense (within the past 15 years): When it comes to a fourth offense DUI, North Dakota looks back 15 years. A fourth offense conviction must be punished by at least 366 days’ imprisonment, a fine of at least $2,000, an addiction evaluation, at least two years of supervised probation, and participation in the 24/7 program as a condition of that probation.
DUI while being accompanied by a minor (second or subsequent offense): If a person is charged with DUI with a minor child after having been previously convicted of the same crime, the charge becomes a Class C Felony. Although the prior conviction increases the maximum penalty, the minimum mandatory depends on the number of priors.
Criminal Vehicular Injury: A person commits Criminal Vehicular Injury if they violate the North Dakota DUI statute, and their violation results in the serious or substantial bodily injury to another person. In the event of conviction, the court must impose at least one year of imprisonment. However, if the person has previously been convicted of a DUI or Reckless Driving, the mandatory minimum calls for two years’ imprisonment.
Class A Felonies allow for a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $20,000 fine. Criminal Vehicular Homicide is the only DUI offense classified as a Class A Felony.
Criminal Vehicular Homicide: A person commits Criminal Vehicular Homicide if they violate the North Dakota DUI statute, and their violation results in the death of another individual. The minimum mandatory calls for at least 3 years’ imprisonment unless there are previous convictions for DUI or Reckless Driving, in which case at least 10 years’ imprisonment must be imposed.
A DUI conviction carries serious consequences, so it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been charged with one. Even when it comes to “mandatory” sentencing, there are few absolutes in the law. A skilled attorney may be able to help you avoid a conviction completely by winning at trial or by getting the charge(s) dismissed. Even when a conviction cannot be avoided, an experienced attorney may be able to get charges reduced or amended in such a way as to avoid the “mandatory” penalties. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, please contact SW&L Attorneys at 701-297-2890.