Montana Alcohol Laws
Where to Buy Alcohol
Beer and table wine are sold in retail stores, groceries, and convenience stores. Spirits and wine over 16 percent alcohol content are sold in package stores, also known as ‘ABCs,’ which are state-owned stores. Local ordinances regulate when alcohol may be served or sold.
Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol
As in all states, the legal age to consume alcohol is 21 years old. However, a person may work in a restaurant that serves alcohol, as a bartender, or generally handle alcohol for sales at age 18.
Open Container Laws
All previously opened containers of alcohol must be transported in a vehicle’s trunk so that the drivers and passengers do not have ready access.
A driver is considered illegally intoxicated if chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine) indicates a BAC (blood-alcohol content) level over .08 percent. At this point, the driver is considered ‘per se intoxicated’ and the state requires no further evidence to convict the driver of DUI (driving under the influence).
Any driver testing positive to a BAC level that is .18 percent over the legal limit of .08 percent faces harsher punishment.
Drivers under the age of 21 face harsher DUI penalties than adult drivers if they are chemically tested and show a BAC level that is over .02 percent.
When suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), ‘implied consent laws’ force the driver to comply with breath, blood, or urine testing for blood-alcohol content. To refuse chemical testing when requested by a police officer may mean mandatory suspension of the driver’s license for up to one year.
Penalties that involve suspension of the driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) are written in terms of minimum mandatory punishments. For a driver’s first DUI, mandatory suspension is six months; for the second offense, one year; for the third offense, one year.
With a third DUI conviction, there is the possible penalty of vehicle confiscation. Ignition interlock is another penalty option to the courts, as is alcohol education or treatment.
DUI is considered a felony after the fourth conviction.