A conviction for driving under the influence – DUI – can dramatically and very negatively change your life. If you are charged with DUI in or near the Las Vegas area, you must be advised and represented by a Nevada attorney helping clients with DUI, and you must contact that attorney at once.
You’re about to learn who may be arrested and charged with DUI in Nevada, when, where, and why. You may be surprised. In a DUI prosecution in the State of Nevada, in order to convict a defendant, the prosecution must prove these two allegations:
- The defendant was operating a motorized vehicle.
- The defendant could not operate that vehicle safely because he or she was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs (or both).
But what constitutes “operating” a motorized vehicle under Nevada law? If you are found to be sleeping in your car, for example, can you still be arrested for DUI? What are your legal rights if you’re charged with DUI, and what steps will you need to take?
If you will keep reading this brief discussion of DUI in Nevada, you’ll find the answers to these questions, but if you are the defendant who has been charged with DUI, you will also need to contact a Las Vegas DUI lawyer for the advice and representation that lawyer will provide.
Can You Be Arrested for Intoxicated Driving if You’re Not Actually Driving?
Even though it’s called “driving” under the influence, a police officer who does not witness you driving can still arrest you for driving under the influence. Let’s say you have one beer with your coworkers after work. Later, you have car trouble driving home, so you pull over to take a look under the hood.
Should a law enforcement officer arrive on the scene and smell the beer on your breath, the officer may suspect that you have been driving under the influence, even though he or she never saw you actually driving.
You may be asked to blow into a breathalyzer device or submit to a field sobriety test, and if you appear to the officer to be intoxicated, or if the breathalyzer test indicates that you are over the “legal limit,” you will probably be placed under arrest for driving under the influence.
Can You Be Arrested for Sleeping in Your Vehicle?
When a driver realizes that he or she is too intoxicated to drive, a common option that many drivers choose is to sleep in the vehicle. However, depending on how you do it and what steps you take, sleeping in your vehicle can still get you charged with driving under the influence if:
- You are clearly intoxicated, or if a breathalyzer device measures your blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08 percent.
- You are in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.
What is “Actual Physical Control” of a Vehicle?
Most states, including Nevada, will not convict someone for driving under the influence unless that person was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. The courts in Nevada consider these factors from NRS 484C.109:
- The person is asleep inside the vehicle.
- The person is not in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
- The engine of the vehicle is not running.
- The vehicle is lawfully parked.
- It is evident that the person could not have driven the vehicle to the location while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or a prohibited substance.
A person who is sleeping is “in control” of a vehicle if the keys are in the ignition, even if the engine isn’t running. If you are sleeping in the front seat or if your car is parked in a location which indicates that you drove there while impaired, you may be placed under arrest for DUI.
However, if you are asleep in the back seat of your car, and if your keys aren’t in the ignition, you might not be arrested. If you are, a Las Vegas DUI attorney may cast doubt on the state’s case, argue that you were not driving, and seek to have the charge against you dropped or dismissed.
How Can You Avoid a DUI Charge in Nevada?
Going to sleep in your vehicle is not the best way to avoid driving under the influence or being charged with DUI. You could still face the charge if a police officer discovers you asleep in your vehicle. A better strategy is calling a friend, a taxicab, or a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber.
Nevertheless, if you choose to sleep in your vehicle in order to avoid driving under the influence, take the keys out of the ignition and place them away from you – under a seat or in the glove box, for example.
Turn the vehicle off and sleep in the back seat, not the front, and make sure that the vehicle is parked legally and safely away from any traffic.
What is Required to Convict You of DUI?
Motorists in Nevada have been arrested for driving under the influence after law enforcement officers have found them sleeping in parking lots, by the side of the highway, and in highway rest areas.
Nevertheless, in order to convict you of driving under the influence, a prosecutor in Nevada must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you were actually driving under the influence at some point before the law enforcement officer discovered you.
What Will a DUI Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
It is not difficult to get arrested and charged with DUI in Las Vegas. Data released by the FBI in 2021 indicates that Las Vegas ranks number one among cities in the U.S. for DUI arrests. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department made 2,349 arrests for DUI in 2021.
A Las Vegas DUI lawyer will consider the particulars of your case, the breathalyzer results, and statements made by the officer who arrested you and any other witnesses. Your lawyer will exploit any weakness in the prosecutor’s case and will cast doubt on the evidence against you.
Even with a first offense, you will need the defense representation and advice that a Las Vegas DUI defense attorney provides, and you’ll need that assistance immediately. A conviction for even a first DUI offense may be penalized with a costly fine and time in jail.
DUI is a quite serious criminal charge in this state. Your freedom and your future will depend on the outcome of your case. If you’re charged with DUI, it’s your right to obtain legal help – at once – from a Nevada DUI attorney.