Nevada DUI Laws & Attorneys
by Joshua Dale
Because of the bright lights, glitter, gaming, and other infamous activities Nevada has the reputation of offering fast and easy good times. But let the good times roll out of control by getting caught driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol and you will see a side of the state that is neither glamorous nor glitzy.
Nevada’s DUI ‘per se’ law states that a blood alcohol content of .08% constitutes impairment to a degree that you are assumed to be unsafe behind the wheel. However, you can also be prosecuted for driving ‘under the influence’ if it can be proven that you were driving in an unsafe manner. Under this theory circumstantial evidence, such as slurred speech, blood shot, watery eyes, unbalanced coordination, hazardous driving, and field sobriety tests can be proof that a driver was ‘impaired’.
If you haven’t been drinking or you believe that you might have been impaired from a benign source such as alcohol based paint, solvents, mouthwash, prescription or over-the-counter drugs be aware that you can still be arrested and punished for a Nevada DUI, even though you are not 'legally drunk'.
You should note that you have the right to a second BAC test at your own expense at a place of your choice. When blood is drawn with or without a request from law enforcement, it is extremely important to have your Nevada DUI attorney contact the hospital or lab immediately with notice of the federal confidentiality law and to assert your patient’s rights regarding the privacy of medical records.
After being charged with a Nevada DUI you’re going to face two adversaries: the criminal courts, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If your license was confiscated because of a DUI, you will be offered a formal hearing. DMV hearings may be a crucial opportunity to let your Nevada DUI defense attorney cross-examine and rebut testimony, and confront evidence offered by those involved in your arrest and investigation.
You have the right to make a request within 7 days for an administrative hearing with the DMV to try avoiding losing driving privileges. Your license will be lost if a hearing is not requested, for not appearing, or for an unsuccessful outcome. DMV sanctions can also be imposed even if you are found not guilty in a criminal court case.
Be advised that Nevada has an out-of-state Driver’s License Compact Agreement. This means that Nevada DUI convictions will be reported to your home state which will generally take action to suspend your license. Offenses for out-of-state drivers can also create other complications. Consequently, it’s imperative that you contact a local Nevada DUI attorney to walk you through the procedures and insure that you don’t face complications with bail, jail, and your driving privileges.
Across the country DUI laws and evidentiary procedures are being challenged, while at the same time state laws are becoming more severe. To be certain that you have the correct and current knowledge contact a Nevada DUI specialist. In any case, if you are stopped and arrested for suspicion of a Nevada DUI, request to see a DUI attorney, the sooner the better.
– Info You Should Know –
Was I Stopped Legally?
Basically you were stopped because of an equipment failure or an officer had probable cause to think you were driving in an impaired manner. Arrests for drunk driving in every state focuses on four areas: driving patterns, physical appearance, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.
Not all reasons offered by officers are legal. Check with a Nevada DUI attorney who will examine all the different aspects of your case, will defend you aggressively and try to mitigate any penalties.
Should I Have Talked To the Cop?
Remember that you don’t have to answer any questions that will incriminate you. Most people say that they have had a "couple of drinks” which is not necessarily incriminating. However such "statements of consumption" will be used against them in court or at a hearing.
And if you plan to refuse a sobriety test – which may not be the best action – you should inform the officer that you would rather wait until instructed by a Nevada DUI lawyer. But be advised if you refuse the test under the implied consent law you can lose your license on the spot, and probably for many months.
Did I Have A Right To Make A Call?
Law enforcement officers are not required to advise you of this right. But once a request is made, they are obligated to provide an opportunity to make a call, hopefully to a Nevada DUI specialist.
I’m Simply Going To Plead Guilty, Why Do I Need A Nevada DUI Lawyer?
The penalties and the numerous, complicated laws relating to motor vehicles and 'driving under the influence' should be taken very seriously. Nevada DUI convictions and penalties can be long lasting and severe, both in court and with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, which regulates your driving privileges.
Experienced and skilled legal counsel may be able to help maximize your defenses thereby possibily mitigating your penalties. A Nevada DUI defense attorney will level the playing field between you and the prosecution in an effort to provide and preserve your constitutional rights.
When considering consulting a Nevada DUI attorney, take into account the impact of a criminal conviction: possible loss of voting privileges, increased cost or cancellation of auto insurance, lost educational opportunities, inability to rent or own cars, restrictions on travel, damage to security clearances, job barriers, possible harm to professional credentials or certifications, and the loss of freedom. Don’t you think these rights, possessions, achievements and abilities are worth protecting?
What’s A Nevada DUI Defense Attorney Going To Cost?
One of the biggest concerns for someone charged with driving under the influence is attorney fees. As cases vary, so does cost. Most people don’t realize that money spent now on skillful help from a Nevada DUI attorney might save them thousands of dollars in the years to come.
What Are Court Costs?
Additional costs outside of the fine for court or administrative services, regulated by state penal or vehicle code(s) violated. They can be costly.
Did I Have To Take a Field Sobriety Test (FST)?
Unlike blood and breath testing, submitting to a "field sobriety test" is voluntary, but do not expect an officer to inform you of this. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the only tests that have been shown to have some relevance in establishing legal intoxication are the One Leg Stand, the Heel-to Toe and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The results of these tests will be entered as evidence against you. But even under laboratory conditions, these tests have only been established to be accurate in predicting blood alcohol content above .10% in 66% to 77% of the time.
What if I Refused To Take a BAC (blood alcohol content) Test?
Refusal carries certain penalties which may be more severe than a 1st DUI conviction. The arresting officer will take your license and it will be automatically suspended. You may request a hearing within 7 days of the arrest to contest the validity of the confiscation or driver’s license suspension.
This hearing is not a trial and producing evidence of innocence and the burden of proof bears upon the accused.
Can I Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain means that you agree to plead guilty to some lesser charge or having your attorney and prosecutor mitigate the penalties. Practiced Nevada DUI attorneys will often be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge as many cases are resolved prior to trial. The plea bargain is extremely advantageous to anyone accused of a Nevada DUI, but remember even a conviction to a lesser charge will still count as a ‘prior’ for calculating penalties for future offenses.
It is next to impossible to plea bargain a Nevada drunk driving charge without an experienced Nevada DUI lawyer.
I’ve Heard of A Nolo Contendere Plea, What Is It?
In legal terms, nolo contendere (Latin for “I do not wish to contest”) is an alternative to a guilty or not guilty plea. While not technically a guilty plea, a nolo plea has many of the same effects, but with some mitigating circumstances. In most states you can only plea nolo once in DUI cases. Generally a judge decides whether a nolo plea will be accepted, and it is not always available.
In any case, without services of a veteran Nevada DUI specialist, specialized pleas or plea bargaining is not possible.
Is Being Punished by the Nevada DMV and the Criminal Courts Double Jeopardy?
Like most states, Nevada law permits the enforcement of administrative penalties in addition to court punishments, as the state considers driving a privilege, not a right, and not subject to civil liberties. The Nevada DMV administers driver’s licenses, imposes civil penalties, serves as the judge, jury and also deals out punishment.
What if I Am An Out-Of-State Driver?
Be advised that Nevada and most states have an out-of-state Driver’s License Compact Agreement, meaning that Nevada DUI convictions will be reported to your home state which will take action to suspend your license.
What Happens In Court?
You’ll have to make several appearances. In a criminal case you have the right to a jury trial with presumption of innocence, but once convicted, it can be up to the judge what punishment you will receive. The sentencing range, and whether the offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is based on a number of things including the number of priors. These convictions include any previous Nevada administrative or criminal court drunk driving suspensions, for refusal to submit to a BAC test, or any ‘operating while intoxicated’ convictions in other states. There are also penalty enhancements due to aggravated circumstances.
In addition, a judge may require you to participate in alcohol or drug treatment programs as part of a parole (probation) program and have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, or even have your vehicle seized and forfeited.
Can I Get a Limited Driver's License?
If you refused the BAC test you are ineligible. Eligiblity is possible for a limited permit after 30 days suspension, allowing travel to work, school or alcohol treatment. An ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle is mandatory for 5 months while using limited driver’s permit. If the offender’s BAC was .15% or higher, the suspension term is 60 days before applying for a special permit and an interlock device must be in place for 10 months.
What About Enhanced Punishments For Multiple Nevada DUI Convictions?
Many circumstances may lead to sentence enhancements: prior DUI convictions, the presence of a child in the car, speeding, reckless driving, an elevated BAC level, or causing an accident with injuries or property damage.
Any time you face multiple or ‘aggravated’ charges, or if death, injuries or sizeable property damage occurs, the fallout for Nevada multiple convictions will get very heavy, including thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory years of imprisonment, massive restitution and a of loss of license and vehicles for years, if not permanently. We strongly recommend retaining an experienced Nevada DUI attorney in order to secure the best possible outcome of a potentially severe situation.
What About My Insurance?
Your insurance rates will probably increase or be cancelled. Rates for your family members, or for your employer (if you use a company car), may increase as well.
– Nevada Criminal Penalties –
1st DUI Offense
90 days loss of driver’s license.
After 45 days, you may be eligible to apply for a restricted license for work and school.
Minimum 2 days to 6 months in jail.
96 hours of community service can be substituted for jail.
$400 to $1175 in fines, plus assessments.
Mandatory attendance at DUI school; average cost is $150 for tuition.
Proof of financial responsibility or high risk SR – 22 insurance.
May be ordered to attend a substance abuse treatment program.
Attendance at a Victims Impact Panel.
Possible installation of an ignition interlock device for 3 to 6 months.
BAC of .18% required alcohol abuse assessment and substance abuse treatment.
2nd DUI Offense (within 7 years)
1 year loss of license.
10 days minimum to 6 months maximum incarceration, or home arrest.
Not eligible for a restricted license.
$750 to $1,175 in fines, plus assessments.
100 to 200 hours of mandatory community service.
Possible car registration suspension.
Clinical evaluation of alcohol/drug dependency.
Up to 1 year substance-abuse treatment program.
3rd DUI Offense (or more within 7 years)
3 years loss of license.
1 to 6 years incarceration.
$2,085 to $5,085 in fines plus assessments.
Not eligible for a restricted license.
Possible car registration suspension.
– Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles –
1st offense license revoked for 90 days.
After 45 days you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license.
SR – 22 required for 3 years.
Possible alcohol/drug assessment and education treatment.
Possible ignition interlock device on all offender’s vehicles.
Attendance to Victim’s Impact panel.
2nd offense loss of license for 1 year.
Not eligible for restricted license.
3rd offense loss of license for 3 years.
Not eligible for restricted license.
BAC of .02% legally impaired.
Alcohol/drug dependency evaluation.
90 days revocation of driver’s license.
Commercial Driver’s License
BAC of .01% can prohibit driving for 24 hours.
BAC of .04% legally impaired.
1st offense loss of license for 1 year.
1 year loss of license for refusal of BAC test.
3 year loss of license when transporting hazardous material.
Mandatory DUI school.
BAC of .18%, alcohol/drug dependency evaluation.
2nd offense lifetime disqualification.
– Disclaimer –
Only experienced Nevada DUI attorneys should provide you with bonified legal advice concerning Nevada DUI laws. Consequently, the aforementioned information on this web site should not be construed as legal advice, rather suggestions and a range of helpful information and should not be substituted for speaking with accredited Nevada DUI attorneys. There is no warrantee, expressed or implied herein. These issues are complicated, laws change and litigation takes experience. Please let us refer you to a seasoned professional Nevada DUI attorney specializing in DUI cases.
– Citations –
Nevada State Code NRS 484.038
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR OR CONTROLLED OR PROHIBITED SUBSTANCE
NRS 484.379 to NRS 484.37947 to NRS 484.3947 and NRS 484.360 Title 5. Most Please reference 483.461 62E.640.