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Elements of a Las Vegas DUI - Per Se Theory

Elements of a Las Vegas DUI - Per Se Theory

In Las Vegas, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point of impairment is against the law. Drugs and alcohol affect people differently. Some people can drink two drinks and not feel like they are impaired. Some drink one, and they feel impaired. Some drugs - such as marijuana and prescription drugs - have no clear link between use and impairment. And some do. A per se DUI is the latter. Per se is Latin for "by itself" and means that once you pass a certain blood alcohol content (bac) or nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml) of drugs in your blood, you are inherently impaired. In this article, we'll be talking about:

  1. The proper method for testing for drugs and alcohol to prove a Las Vegas DUI
  2. What the per se limits for drugs and alcohol are for a Las Vegas DUI 
  3. How a Las Vegas DUI attorney can help you beat a Las Vegas per se DUI charge

Testing for Drugs and Alcohol to Prove a Las Vegas DUI

Las Vegas has three tests that show the amount of alcohol or drugs in a person's system to prove a Las Vegas DUI:

  1. Urine test
  2. Breath test
  3. Blood test

The gold standard is generally the blood test because it can be tested and looked at again after the initial test. The most disfavored test is the urine test due to the problems inherent with urine testing. Breath tests are considered accurate, but chemists can never replicate your breath test sample because the breath is gone once you blow into the machine. 

Urine Test to Prove a Las Vegas DUI

A urine test is the most disfavored method of testing for prohibited substances. In fact, the Nevada Revised Statutes explicitly state it should not be requested under most conditions. For a Las Vegas DUI, it may only be requested in two scenarios:

  1. When individuals have hemophilia or other medical conditions that prevent them from giving blood, they must submit to a breath test (alcohol) or urine test (drugs).
  2. When officers suspect somebody is under the influence of drugs - not including marijuana - they may request a blood or urine test.

Las Vegas DUI attorney Charles Goodwin would like to point out that urine tests are rare. He seldom sees them. Contact Charles Goodwin immediately if a urine test was used to prove you guilty of a Las Vegas DUI for drugs.

Breath Test to Prove a Las Vegas DUI

Las Vegas police officers often utilized a breath test to prove a Las Vegas DUI. Breath tests are popular because they do not require a specialized person to administer them (often police officers), they give an instant result, and maintenance is fairly simple. In Las Vegas, officers use an Intoxilyzer 8000. The breath sample MUST be taken within two hours of the person being in actual physical control to qualify for a per se Las Vegas DUI. 

There are statutory requirements to run a breath test machine in Nevada. First, the person accused of a Las Vegas DUI must give two breath samples to meet the per se requirements. Those breath samples cannot have more than a .02 difference in their samples. If they do, a third breath is required, and that one must also be within .02 from the prior samples. DUI Defense attorney Charles Goodwin gives the following example:

Dave blew into the Intoxilyzer 8000 and his first sample was a .213. His second sample was a .237. His third sample was a .199. Samples 1 and 3 will be used to prosecute a Las Vegas DUI under per se theory. However, if the first was .192 and below or .258 and above, the breath test would be invalid. In that instance, the officer must request a blood test. 

Officers are permitted to use only one breath test, but it is no longer a per se Las Vegas DUI, and it is only admissible when:

  1. The person refuses to provide additional samples, and blood is not available;
  2. The machine is only capable of one sample, and a blood draw is not possible.

Refusing to test further for alcohol will result in your license being suspended for one year.

Blood Test to Prove a Las Vegsa DUI

Blood tests provide the most accurate information when it comes to a Las Vegas DUI charge. There are several types of machines that test for blood. Currently, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department uses a Gas Chromatography/Flame Ionization Detection (GC/FID) machine. Henderson utilizes the same machine but will also do Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) for controlled substances. Like the breath test, to convict for an alcohol DUI in Las Vegas, a registered nurse must take the blood sample within two hours of being in actual physical control of the vehicle. If it is outside of the two hours, the blood results can only be used to prove an impairment theory Las Vegas DUI.  

Per Se Limits for Drugs and Alcohol to prove a Las Vegas DUI

Nevada has categorized certain controlled substances and alcohol as having an impairment threshold. If a certain threshold is reached in your blood, then you are automatically deemed impaired whether you are impaired or not! These per se thresholds can be found in the Nevada DUI statute NRS 484C.110:

                                                                                                   Urine                           Blood
                                                                                              Nanograms                  Nanograms
      Prohibited substance                                                   per milliliter                  per milliliter
      (a) Amphetamine                                                                      500                               100
      (b) Cocaine                                                                               150                                50
      (c) Cocaine metabolite                                                              150                                50
      (d) Heroin                                                                                  2,000                             50
      (e) Heroin metabolite:
             (1) Morphine                                                                      2,000                              50
             (2) 6-monoacetyl morphine                                               10                                   10
      (f) Lysergic acid diethylamide                                                   25                                   10
      (g) Methamphetamine                                                              500                                 100
      (h) Phencyclidine                                                                      25                                   10

Not listed is alcohol, which is further up in the statute. The per se threshold for a Las Vegas, Nevada Alcohol DUI is a BAC of .08 or above.

How A Las Vegas DUI Attorney Can Help You

Las Vegas DUI attorney Charles Goodwin can help you fight per se DUIs. There are generally three ways to do so:

  1. Challenge the Probable Cause: Some people are not impaired even when over the legal per se limit. Officers may suspect impairment but are on the fence. Charles Goodwin is an experienced DUI attorney who knows how to challenge the probable cause and the officers' method to generate probable cause.
  2. Challenge the Testing Procedure: The equipment used to test for alcohol and drugs to prove a Las Vegas DUI is very sensitive equipment. If the process is not done right then, the mistakes can skew the blood and breath results. Las Vegas DUI Defense Attorney Charles Goodwin knows those procedures and can challenge them when they were not done correctly.
  3.  Challenging the Results: Several things can cause a blood or breath test to measure improperly. These include certain medical disorders like COPD, acid reflux, and diabetes. Only a DUI Defense Attorney like Charles Goodwin knows how to spot these types of discrepancies. 

Whether this is your first Las Vegas DUI or third Las Vegas DUI, you need an experienced advocate on your side. Call Charles Goodwin at the Goodwin Law Group today. There is a free, no-obligation first consultation to discuss your case and how we can help. Call (702) 472-9594 today!

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