In response to the levels of drunk driving in Montana, the 2011 Legislature enacted the Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program Act, §§ 44–4–1201 through 1206, MCA1. The purpose of the Act is “to protect the public health and welfare by reducing the number of people on Montana’s highways who drive under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs; and to strengthen the pretrial and post-trial options available to prosecutors and judges in responding to repeat DUI offenders.” Section 44–4–1202, MCA.
The court is permitted under § 44–4–1205, MCA, as a condition of pretrial release of an individual accused of a second drunk driving offense or a subsequent offense, to require the individual to submit to twice-daily alcohol breath tests and payment of the associated fees.
The imposition of the 24/7 Sobriety Program can be an appropriate condition of release. However, enrollment in the program is discretionary, not automatic, and a court must consider an individual’s unique circumstances prior to imposing the testing requirement.
A judge should conduct an individualized assessment to consider factors such as prior alcohol-related arrests, whether the defendant’s history and circumstances suggest an increased risk to the community, and whether the defendant is financially able to pay the fees associated with testing.
Greg Beebe in Helena, Montana, is experienced in filing motions to lift the testing requirement or moving to amend the imposed conditions under § 46–9–108(2), MCA. He also represents clients charged with DUI in Lewis and Clark County who are charged with criminal contempt under § 45–7–309(1)(g), MCA, for failing to comply with the conditions of participating in the program.
The 24/7 Sobriety Program’s purpose was amended in 2013 and 2015, with additions made both sessions. See 2013 Mont. Laws, ch. 309; 2015 Mont. Laws, ch. 312.
In 2013, the Montana Legislature codified an aspect of the assessment, permitting other testing methodologies when the program presents a hardship for an individual or when a program participant requires less stringent testing requirements. 2013 Mont. Laws, ch. 309; § 44–4–1203(2), MCA (2013).
In 2015, the Montana Legislature amended § 44–4–1205, MCA, clarifying the look-back period. 2015 Mont. Laws, ch. 312.
Fees for the 24/7 Sobriety Program in Montana
The participants pay $2 per test. A person commits the offense of criminal contempt by purposely failing to comply with the testing requirements of the 24/7 Sobriety Program. Section 45–7–309(1)(g), MCA.
Section 44–4–1204(2), MCA, requires the Attorney General to adopt rules providing for “testing fees for the program, including the collection of fees to pay the cost of installation, monitoring, and deactivation of any testing device.” The statute sets forth rules that the fees are to be used for the 24/7 Sobriety Program. The fees are limited to the costs involved in administering the program, to include the “cost of installation, monitoring, and deactivation of any testing device.” Section 44–4–1204(2), MCA.
Contempt by Purposely Failing to Comply with Testing Requirements
In many of these cases, an attorney can file a motion to lift the testing requirement or a could motion to amend the imposed conditions at any time under § 46–9–108(2), MCA.
In some of these cases, the prosecutor will charge the participant with criminal contempt under § 45–7–309(1)(g), MCA, for failing to comply with the conditions of participating in the program.
Montana’s 24/7 Sobriety Program – Visit the website of the Montana Attorney General’s Office to learn more about the 24/7 Sobriety Program proposed in March of 2010. The program was initially run as a pilot in Helena in Lewis and Clark County. The initial results out of Lewis and Clark County showed that out of thousands of tests administered, more than 99 percent came back clean. Based on the results from the pilot program, the Attorney General’s Office expanded the idea in 2011 when House Bill 106 passed and was signed into law by Gov. Brian Schweitzer in May of 2011.Currently, 49 counties in Montana are running the program and more have attended Attorney General’s Office training to launch their own programs soon. The statewide statistics show that out of 680,000 twice daily tests being administered, the program has a 99.7% success rate.
Attorney for the 24/7 Sobriety Program in Helena, Montana
If you were arrested for your second or subsequent DUI in Montana, you might be subjected to pre-trial release conditions including participation in Montana’s 27/7 Sobriety Program. Your criminal defense attorney should be familiar with the program and ways to get your conditions amended or terminated when available.
Call Greg Beebe at Beebe Law Firm if you need a qualified DUI defense attorney in Helena, Montana, or the surrounding areas. His familiarity with the courts and the resources available for people who have multiple DUIs will help you fight for the best possible result in your case.
Greg Beebe represents clients in Montana who have been charged with DUI offenses and ordered to participate in the 24/7 Sobriety Program in Helena, Montana. He represents clients throughout the State of Montana and residents in Lewis and Clark County, Missoula County, Gallatin County or other Montana communities. His office is conveniently located at 1085 Helena Avenue in Helena, Montana, between Idaho Avenue and North Dakota Avenue.