In Montana you are required to report any accident in a town if someone is injured, killed or more than $500 in property damage is incurred. In rural areas or outside of towns or cities, you must report an accident if anyone is killed or injured or there is more than $1000 of property damage.
Also, in those cases you must not leave the scene of the accident either or you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Once an accident occurs, try to move vehicles out of the right of way of traffic and to the shoulder or into a parking lot nearby. Check to see if you or anyone else is injured and call for help if anyone is. Then exchange information and if possible take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to property. This will make a difference during settlement or court actions.
Modified Comparative Fault in Montana
Montana has one of the highest insurance rates in the US currently sitting at number 2 of all states. Part of this is driven by the high number of uninsured drivers in the state currently at 15th most among states and over 14% of all drivers uninsured. This means when you are in an accident in the state, there is a better than a 1 in 10 chance that the other driver will be uninsured.
The state is an at fault state where drivers can pursue four different options for recovering damages from a car accident. These include a personal settlement between drivers for any damages. However this method is often only used in small accidents involving small amounts of property damage. Drivers can also make a claim against their own insurance coverage, however if another driver is at fault it would not be a suggested course of action.
Thirdly, drivers often negotiate a settlement with the driver suspected to be at fault’s insurance company. This negotiation often can be complicated by the modified comparative fault rule which can dictate percentages of awards based on a person’s ascribed fault level in an accident. The last option is for a direct civil lawsuit against the suspected at fault driver.
Modified comparative fault only allows drivers to receive damages if they are less than 50% at fault. If you are 50% or more at fault in Montana you are ineligible for damage awards through the court system. Negotiated settlements by insurance companies often attempt to ascertain fault percentages in order to mitigate total payments. With a liberal court system known for leaning towards drivers within the state, if you are in a car accident and are not at fault, or less than 50% at fault it may be in your best interest. Consult a car accident attorney especially if you have been injured in a car accident.
Traffic Violation Demerit System
Montana uses a comprehensive demerit point system for traffic violations from something as small as defective windshield wipers worth 2 demerits to deliberate vehicle homicide worth 15 demerit points. The penalties for traffic violations range from driving counseling, driving tests re-examination, a 3 month suspension for 6 points within an 18 month period and a 6 month suspension for 15 or more points accumulated within a 36 month period.
DUI in Montana
Driving under the influence charges in Montana include drugs and alcohol and follow the national limit for adults of 0.8%, but impose a 0.2% for anyone under 21 years old. It is also possible to be charged with DUI within those Blood Alcohol Content limits for suspicion of drug use including illicit or over the counter medications while operating a motor vehicle.
Penalties in Montana are two-fold and include court mandated and the Motor Vehicle Division within Montana. Court penalties include mandatory jail time from 24 hours for a first offense up to 1 year in jail for a third offense as well as fines ranging from $300 to $5000. Administrative penalties include license suspensions of 6 months for a first offense within your age range and a 1 year suspension for second and subsequent offenses that occur within 5 years of each other. Multiple offenses may require a sobriety program that requires a breathalyzer BAC test throughout the day.
An implied consent law ensures that you receive a 6 month suspension on first refusal and 1 year for subsequent refusals of a chemical test.