Armstrong v. State – Case Brief Summary (Montana)

In Armstrong v. State, 250 Mont. 468, 826 P.2d 1273 (1991), Armstrong refused to take a breathalyzer test and his driver's license was taken from him by the Department of Justice. DUI charges were filed against him which were later dropped and Armstrong then petitioned the district court for reinstatement of his license.

At a hearing to determine the license issue, the state conceded that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to stop but maintained the stop was lawful due to the officer's particular suspicion. The district court denied the request for reinstatement of the license and on appeal the Supreme Court reversed the district court's decision.

Armstrong then petitioned for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to § 25-10-711 M.C.A. The Supreme Court concluded that a claim pursued frivolously or in bad faith is "outside the bounds of legitimate argument on a substantial issue on which there is a bonafide difference of opinion."

The district court did not find that the defense of the State was frivolous or in bad faith and denied the request for attorney's fees.

The Supreme Court concluded that the record supported the actions of the district court.