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What is a DUI and a DWI in North Dakota?

DUI in North Dakota is an acronym for “driving under the influence,” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” Generally, these terms may have different meanings across the United States, but in North Dakota, they typically refer to the same offense. Motorists in the state are charged with DUIs or DWIs when they endanger themselves or other road users’ lives and properties by operating a motor vehicle after using alcohol and other drugs that impair their ability to drive. According to Chapter 39 of North Dakota’s century code, DUI/DWI is considered a crime across the state. As a result, the charges are handled in the North Dakota Judicial System’s criminal courts, the District and Municipal courts.

On conviction, individuals convicted of these offenses in the state may suffer long-lasting negative consequences such as revocation of driving privileges, expensive fines, jail time, expensive car insurance, demerit points, etc.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in North Dakota

DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably in North Dakota to address offenses relating to operating a vehicle with impaired driving ability. The DUI cases in the state are usually prosecuted under one or both of the following:

  • The impairment case
  • The per se case.

An impairment case occurs when an offender is charged because their physical features and driving pattern prove that they were drunk driving. For example, in an impairment case, the driver may be unable to walk in a straight line or safely operate a vehicle due to the influence of drugs and alcohol.

In contrast, a per se conviction case does not require physical proof that the offender ingested alcohol or drugs. That is, the offender may not exhibit any erratic behaviors due to the influence of drugs and alcohol. Hence, the conviction is based solely on the alcohol or drug content in the driver’s body. Drivers are charged with this type of DUI when they drive with a BAC level of over 0.08 percent. If the driver operates a commercial vehicle, operating a vehicle with a BAC of over 0.04 percent is illegal. Violating both cases at once attract more severe or harsher penalties.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in North Dakota

A first-time DUI offense in North Dakota is a misdemeanor offense according to state laws. This conviction carries no minimum jail sentence unless the offender’s Blood Alcohol-Concentration (BAC) level is.16% or greater. The offender may receive a 2-day minimum jail term or 20 hours of community service in this case. The fine amount for a first time DUI offense is between $500-$1,500, including court costs. Eventually, the offender will attend an addiction facility for an alcohol evaluation program.

A first-time conviction may also result in the driver’s license suspension for up to 91 days if the offender’s BAC level is below.16%. If it is more significant, a 180 days driver’s license suspension applies. Finally, if a first time offender refuses the test, there will be a resulting 1-year license revocation, and the individual will not be eligible for a restricted license.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in North Dakota

Facing jail time for a first DUI conviction in North Dakota is not likely. But, if the offender has a blood alcohol concentration of over.18%, or the DUI resulted in any damage or loss or property of life, jail time might be mandatory. Asides from that, most first DUI cases face penalties of mandatory fines of a minimum of $250 and a maximum fine of up to $1000 rather than jail time.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in North Dakota

Typical penalties for DUI convictions in North Dakota generally constitute court fines, possible jail time, and license suspension. The extent of these penalties depends on the seriousness or severity of the crime. It may also depend on the number of times the offender has been convicted of related offenses.

Penalty for first DUI conviction

According to Chapter 12 of the North Dakota Century Code, a first DUI conviction in North Dakota is a Class B misdemeanor. It is punishable by a $250-$500 fine if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below.16%. A $750 penalty and a two-day jail time may apply if the BAC is more significant than.16%. The state will also perform a mandatory addiction evaluation of the individual if mandated by the court.

Penalty for Second DUI conviction

If an offender is convicted for a second time within 7 years, the individual has committed a Class B misdemeanor. The resulting penalties may include:

  • A $1,500 fine and a ten-day imprisonment
  • A mandatory 360 days’ participation in the 24/7 sobriety program
  • License suspension of up to a year if the BAC is below.18
  • Two-year license suspension if BAC is greater than.18

Penalty for Third DUI conviction

A third DUI conviction is considered more severe in North Dakota. It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by:

  • A $2000 fine and a 120-day imprisonment
  • A mandatory 360 days’ participation in the 24/7 sobriety program
  • A 360 days’ supervised probation
  • A Two-year license suspension if BAC is below.18
  • A Three-year license suspension if BAC is.18 or greater

Penalty for fourth and subsequent DUI conviction

A fourth DUI conviction is a class C felony in the state. It is punishable by

  • A $2000 fine
  • Up to one-year imprisonment
  • A mandatory two years’ participation in the 24/7 sobriety program
  • Two years’ supervised probation

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in North Dakota

In North Dakota, a DUI remains on an offender’s driving record for seven years. Additionally, when drivers are convicted of driving offenses such as a DUI, they are awarded demerit points based on the severity of the crime; these stay on their record for three years. While these demerit points can be removed from a driver’s record over time, North Dakota does not permit conviction records expungement. The North Dakota Supreme Court only permits the expungement of arrest records that did not result in a conviction.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in North Dakota

DUI/sobriety checkpoints are used to discourage drunk driving. The United States Supreme Court ruled that DUI or sobriety checkpoints are legal, according to the U.S. Constitution. In like manner, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the checkpoints, thereby making them legal and constitutional. They are enforcement activities where police/patrol officers set up strategically on roadways within the state to stop vehicles at random and inspect drivers for impaired driving and other illegal activities.

They are mostly set up across the state during high-risk periods such as holidays or large events and festivals. Many local third party websites provide information on the locations of these sobriety checkpoints across the state.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI?

Generally, DWIs are considered to be more severe than DUIs in the United States because they are usually associated with significant levels of intoxication from substances other than alcohol. However, the severity of each case depends on the state where the crime is committed. Consequently, in North Dakota, both crimes are extreme and often used interchangeably when addressing driving offenses related to the use of medications and liquor that impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.

What is an Aggravated DWI in North Dakota

An aggravated DWI is often referred to as aggravated DUI in North Dakota. It is a more severe criminal charge when compared to a mere DUI/DWI. Usually, it occurs when one or more offenses are committed in addition to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The crime constitutes the common elements of a DUI/DWI and at least one aggravating factor such as impaired driving with a minor in the vehicle, multiple DUI convictions within 7–15 years, driving with a revoked or suspended license, etc.

Penalties for such crimes within the state include expensive fines, mandatory addiction evaluation programs, supervision, lengthier license suspension periods, and increased jail time.

In most cases, DUI convictions categorized as aggravated are usually felony DUIs. These typically include a fourth or subsequent DUI offense within 15 years, a DUI incident that results in serious bodily harm or death, and an impaired driver transporting minors.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in North Dakota

After being arrested for a DUI/DWI in North Dakota, the offender should be advised to contact an experienced drinking and driving defense lawyer immediately.

Most times, with the help of a lawyer, an offender may post bond and then receive a court date to reappear. Depending on the law enforcement that made the arrest, the number of prior DUI convictions the offender has, and the jurisdiction where the arrest was made, the case may be heard in a district court or municipal court. If the offender was arrested by the North Dakota Highway Patrol or the County Sheriff’s Department, or if the individual has two or more prior DUI convictions within seven years, the trial is set in the county district court.

If the offender was arrested by a local police officer, with no prior DUI convictions, the case would be addressed in the municipal court. Although the offender has the right to self-represent, having a lawyer could help to reduce charges or preserve the offender’s driving privileges. However, this is dependent on the severity of the case and therefore is not a guarantee.

Individuals seeking these services may use the lawyer referral service that the State Bar (lawyer) Association of North Dakota provides.

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