DUI

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Getting arrested for DUI can be scary, life changing, and raise alot of questions.  Let us help. Our firm focuses exclusively on DUI and criminal defense

Some of the most common questions we receive in DUI cases, and the general responses, are below.  Please note that these are intended for general information only.  They are not intended to be, nor should be construed as, legal advice.  If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of North Dakota.  Call us at (701) 223-3874 or email us at lawfirm@suhrandlofgren.com to discuss your case today.

Do I have to do the field sobriety tests when asked?

No.  Officers will often request for you to do field sobriety tests.  Some of the most common are:

  • HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) also known as the "eye test"
  • Walk and turn
  • One-legged stand
  • Counting backwards
  • Alphabet
  • Partial alphabet
  • Finger touch test

You do not have to do these.  You cannot be arrested or charged for politely refusing to do so.

What is a "screening device"?

A "screening device" is a small hand-held device, sometimes called a a "PBT" (preliminary breath test).   Officers will ask you to submit to it road-side prior to any arrest. They rely on it to decide if there is probable cause to arrest you.  You blow into it and it gives a preliminary breath alcohol concentration result.  However its results are not admissible as evidence in court. 

What is a "chemical test"?

A "chemical test" is a test done of the breath, blood, or urine to determine alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs in your system.  The specific form of test is up to the officer.  The tests are usually done at the local Law Enforcement Center.  If the test is done according to certain very specific legal requirements, the result will be admissible in court.  

You can request an independent test if you like, but it is up to you to arrange and pay for it.

Can I be arrested or charged with a crime for refusing to submit to a chemical test?

Depends.  In June, 2016 the United States Supreme Court held, in Birchfield v. North Dakota that you cannot be charged with a crime for refusing an officer's request for a blood test, but you can be charged with a crime for refusing an Intoxilyzer/breath test.

The Supreme Court did not address whether you can be charged with a crime for refusing an officer's request for a PBT or for a urine test, but there are very good arguments that you cannot be. 

What are the mandatory minimum penalties for a DUI?

If it is your 1st DUI, and your BAC ("blood alcohol concentration") is less than .16, the offense is a class B misdmeanor and the mandatory minimum sentence is:

  • $500.00 fine;
  • get a chemical dependency evaluation.

If it is your 1st DUI and your BAC is .16 or greater, the offense is a class B misdemeanor and the mandatory minimum sentence is:

  • 2 days jail OR 20 hours of community service;
  • $750.00 fine;
  • get a chemical dependency evaluation.

If it is your 2nd DUI in the last 7 years, the offense is a class B misdemeanor and the mandatory minimum sentence is:

  • 10 days jail;
  • $1,500.00 fine;
  • get a chemical dependency evaluation;
  • 360 days participation in the 24/7 program as a condition of probation.

If it is your 3rd DUI in the last 7 years, the offense is a class A misdemeanor and the mandatory minimum sentence is:

  • 120 days jail;
  • $2,000.00 fine;
  • get a chemical dependency evaluation;
  • 360 days supervised probation;
  • 360 days participation in the 24/7 program as a condition of probation.

If it is your 4th DUI in the last 15 years, the offense is a class C felony and the mandatory minimum sentence is:

  • 1 year and 1 day prison;
  • $2,000.00 fine;
  • get a chemical dependency evaluation;
  • 2 years supervised probation;
  • Participation in the 24/7 program as a condition of probation.

What happens with my drivers' license?

When you are arrested for DUI, or if you refuse a PBT or chemical test, (whether Intoxilyzer/breath or a blood test) the North Dakota Department of Transportation ("DOT") may suspend or revoke your driving privileges. How long you may lose your license depends on the circumstances.  The minimum is 91 days.  You can and should request a hearing to fight your license being suspended or revoked.  However you only have a very short period of time to request a hearing.  

In many instances you may be eligible for a work permit, also known as a "temporary restricted license".  You may also be eligible for a work permit if you are participating in the 24/7 sobriety program.

What is the 24/7 program, and when do I have to do it?

The 24/7 sobriety program is a state-wide program, usually administered by the county sheriff's department.  It requires you to prove that you remain sober during and after the conclusion of a criminal charge.  The 24/7 program is usually required in cases involving a 2nd DUI offense or greater. 

You can comply with the program in two ways.  First, you can report to the sheriff's department at designated times each day, usually once in the morning and once in the evening, and submit to a breath test.  Second, you can obtain a "SCRAM" (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) bracelet which electronically monitors for alcohol in your system.

Sometimes there is a waiting list to get set up on a SCRAM bracelet, and there are costs involved.  However it offers convenience and flexibility.