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The North Dakota DUI Guide


For Attorneys








Actual Physical Control

Administrative License Suspension







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I just got arrested for a State of North Dakota DUI charge.  What happens next?


ISSUE ONE:  The North Dakota Implied Consent / Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Proceeding:  Under North Dakota law, any person who operates a motor vehicle on a highway or on public or private areas to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use in the State of North Dakota is deemed to have given consent, and must consent to a chemical test, or tests, of the blood, breath, saliva, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcohol, other drug, or combination thereof, content of the blood.  This is known as North Dakota's implied consent law. 


Pursuant to North Dakota's implied consent law, your North Dakota drivers license (or your right to drive in North Dakota if you're not a North Dakota licensed driver) was most likely suspended or revoked for anywhere from 91 days to one year or more for failing (suspension) or refusing (revocation) a chemical (breath / blood / urine) test.  This suspension / revocation typically starts on the 25th day following your arrest. 


Read your paperwork carefully.  If you act quickly―generally within 10 days of your arrest―you can request a hearing to challenge your proposed administrative suspension / revocation.  After a timely request, an administrative hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of your arrest.  About 25% of administrative suspensions / revocations are dismissed after a hearing.


Speak to your North Dakota DWI attorney for more information about contesting your administrative (implied consent) license suspension / revocation. 



ISSUE TWO:  The North Dakota DUI / APC (Actual Physical Control) Criminal Case:  Separate from the administrative license proceeding is the criminal charge either for driving under the influence (DUI) or actual physical control (APC).  Under North Dakota's law, you may not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle upon a highway or upon public or private areas to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use in this state if any of the following apply:

a. You have an alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent at the time of the performance of a chemical test within two hours after the driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle.  Sometimes known as a "per se DUI."

b. You are under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

c. You are under the influence of any drug or substance or combination of drugs or substances to a degree which renders you incapable of safely driving.

d. You are under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drugs or substances to a degree which renders you incapable of safely driving.

Important:  The implied consent / administrative license suspension proceeding and the criminal DUI / APC case are completely separate from one another. 


Will my North Dakota driver license be suspended or revoked?


Your North Dakota driver license (or your right to drive in North Dakota if you do not have a valid North Dakota license) may be suspended or revoked in the implied consent proceeding for failing or for refusing a chemical test for alcohol and / or drugs.  For a first offense (or at least the first offense within the last five years), you face a suspension of between 91 and 180 days for failing a chemical test or a revocation for one year for refusing a chemical test.  Longer suspensions and revocations are imposed if you have a prior offense(s) within the past five years.

BAC .08-.17%    BAC .18% +   
None 91 days 180 days 1 year revocation
1 w/in past five years 1 year 2 years 3 year revocation
2+ w/in past five years 2 years 3 years 4 year revocation
Note 1:  Test failures result in license suspensions; test refusals result in license revocations.

Note 2:  If this is your first DUI / APC offense, the refusal may be “cured” by pleading guilty to DUI / APC charge and filing the required affidavit with NDDOT within 25 days.  NDDOT will then impose a 91-day or a 180-day suspension instead of the 1 year license revocation.  You may then be eligible for a temporary restricted license after serving 30 days of the suspension.

Again, you may challenge this proposed suspension / revocation in an administrative hearing this revocation if you make a timely hearing request.


I have a commercial driver license (CDL).  What will happen to my CDL?


A North Dakota DUI / APC conviction results in a one year suspension of your commercial driver license regardless of whether you were driving commercially at the time.  A second DUI / APC conviction will result in a permanent revocation of your ND CDL.



What happens if I get caught driving while my license is revoked?


Driving while your license is suspended or revoked following a test failure or refusal should be avoided, as it is a separate misdemeanor charge.  If you are convicted, you will face penalties including a minimum of four days in jail.  NDDOT may also extend your suspension / revocation for an additional period of time.


I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a temporary restricted license / work permit / occupational / conditional / probationary permit?


If you have no previous offenses within the past five years, you may be able to receive a temporary restricted license "work permit" that will allow you to drive to work and back.  You may apply for a work permit after you have served 30 days of your license suspension.


What is the difference between a DUI, DWI, OWI, OUI etc.?


These terms are all acronyms that refer to the crime commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have different names for the crime.  For example, in Wisconsin the acronym OWI (operating while impaired / intoxicated) is used; Ohio often uses the term OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired); Minnesota uses the term DWI (driving while intoxicated); Oregon uses the term DUII (driving under the influence of an intoxicant).  Montana and South Dakota use the charge DUI (driving under the influence).


North Dakota law also uses the terms: driving under the influence (DUI) and actual physical control (APC).  In this website, the terms DUI and APC are used interchangeably.


Is a DWI offense in North Dakota a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In North Dakota, a DUI / APC is usually a misdemeanor charge.  However, a fifth or subsequent offense within a seven year period is a Class C felony.


What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of an North Dakota DUI / Aggravated DWI charge?


Upon conviction of an North Dakota drunk driving offense, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties.  A range of penalties is set forth below: 



Class B Misdemeanor
  • fine of $250 or more;
  • addiction evaluation;
  • suspension / revocation per implied consent law.
(second offense within past five years)
Class B Misdemeanor

  • fine of $500 or more;
  • addiction evaluation;
  • suspension / revocation per implied consent law.
  • 5+ days imprisonment or 30 days community service;
  • possible license plate impoundment.

(third offense within past five years)
Class A Misdemeanor

  • fine of $1000 or more;
  • addiction evaluation;
  • suspension / revocation per implied consent law.
  • 60+ days imprisonment ;
  • possible license plate impoundment.
(fourth offense within past seven years)
Class A Misdemeanor
  • fine of $1000 or more;
  • addiction evaluation;
  • suspension / revocation per implied consent law.
  • 180+ days imprisonment;
  • possible license plate impoundment.
Note 1:  The critical look back period for prior convictions in North Dakota is five to seven years.
Note 2:  A fifth offense within the past five to seven years is a Class C felony crime.
Note 3:  "Imprisonment" may include jail; home confinement; or in-patient treatment.

Will my defense lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my North Dakota DUI / APC charge down to another (lesser) offense?

Possibly.  Unlike some states, there is no anti-plea bargaining statute in the State of North Dakota.  Any experienced North Dakota DWI lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the prosecution on his client's behalf.  Sometimes, your only option will be to plead guilty to the charge or take your case to trial.

Will a North Dakota DUI / DWI conviction go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  A DUI / APC conviction will go on your North Dakota driving record and remain indefinitely.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in North Dakota?

The amount of jail time received will depend on a number of different factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your DUI history (including any APC's / OWI's / DWI's outside of North Dakota);

•  your level of intoxication / BAC (BAC of 0.18 or greater can generate greater penalties);

•  whether there was an accident involved;

•  whether there was injury (especially serious bodily injury) to a person;

•  which North Dakota county or court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / child in your car;

•  whether the judge feels you have accepted responsibility for your driving.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than North Dakota and I was cited for a DUI / APC in North Dakota.  Will my driver license be revoked or suspended?

North Dakota only has the authority to revoke your right to drive in the State of North Dakota.  However, North Dakota and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  North Dakota will report a driving under the influence / actual physical control conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact).  Your home state will then generally take action to suspend or revoke your drivers license.

This also works in reverse.  If you are a North Dakota licensed driver and you are convicted of a DWI / OWI / DUI in another state, North Dakota will suspend or revoke your license if it learns of the conviction. 

Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition system.  In order to start the vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the IID which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device, the vehicle will not start.  The ignition interlock device also requires the driver to blow into the device at periodic intervals while driving in order to prevent the driver from cheating. 


If you are convicted of a second DUI / APC offense in five years, the court may require you to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle for any amount of time the court deems appropriate.  Also, if the court issues a work permit, it may require you to install an IID in your vehicle.

What will a North Dakota DUI do to my ability to keep / maintain liability insurance?

If your insurance company finds out about your DUI / APC conviction one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your North Dakota insurer will raise your rates or your insurance policy may be cancelled or non-renewed.  Your insurance company will learn of your DUI / APC arrest if you have to file an SR-22.

What is an SR-22 Filing?

An SR-22 is a certificate of proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) submitted by an insurance company licensed to do business in the State of North Dakota.  North Dakota requires an SR-22 filing for many DUI related offenses.  Speak to your ND attorney for more information.

Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an North Dakota DUI?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including North Dakota DWI convictions and implied consent administrative license suspensions.  Learn more here.

I missed my court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a North Dakota court appearance, bad things happen.  At a minimum, the North Dakota court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (often known as a bench warrant).  You may also face a new, additional criminal charge.  Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.  Often, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

Can I represent myself in court on my North Dakota DUI or other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have an absolute constitutional right to represent yourself on any criminal charge no matter how serious including an North Dakota DUI charge.  Keep in mind that North Dakota DUI / APC defense is a complex area of the law as shown by the information in this website.  If you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer, you definitely should apply for a court appointed attorney.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at any administrative license suspension hearing.


Websites, including this one, provide general North Dakota DUI information but do not provide legal advice or create an attorney / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice about your case, criminal charge, or situation.  Consult qualified North Dakota Drunk Driving - DUI - APC lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or North Dakota drunk driving charge that you have.  North Dakota lawyers are governed by the North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No attorney associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.  This site is an informational website.  ND DUI FAQ's.


Providing drunk driving (DWI / DUI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of:  Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, Cass County. Burleigh County. and Ward County.  Beat a DUI.  What happens with a ND DUI.  North Dakota lawyers may accept credit cards. 


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