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Elements of a Nevada DUI - Impairment Theory

Elements of a Nevada DUI - Impairment Theory

In Nevada, it is possible to get a DUI if you are under the legal limit if you were still too impaired to drink. It is also possible to get a Nevada DUI for substances that have no per se legal limit. The method used to do this is called "impairment theory." Impairment theory means that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs AND were too impaired to drive. 

The impairment theory for a Nevada DUI comes from section 2 of the Nevada DUI statute NRS 484C.110:

2.  It is unlawful for any person who:
      (a) Is under the influence of a controlled substance;
      (b) Is under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance; or
      (c) Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access. The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection is or has been entitled to use that drug under the laws of this State is not a defense against any charge of violating this subsection.

This includes ANY controlled substance, even prescription drugs. Many people under the care of a doctor or not impaired still find themselves arrested for DUI in Nevada. If this happens to you, contact Nevada DUI Defense Attorney Charles Goodwin today so he can help you fight back against your DUI.

Proving a Nevada DUI with Impairment Theory

Proving a Nevada DUI under only impairment theory is much more difficult than proving a per se Nevada DUI. That is because the prosecutor cannot rely solely on there being drugs or alcohol in your system. They must prove that there were drugs and alcohol AND prove that you were too impaired to drive. 

Proving the Presence of Alcohol or Drugs for a Nevada DUI

A prosecutor must prove drugs or alcohol in your system to convict for a Nevada DUI under impairment theory. That is because there are several reasons why somebody may be pulled over. Prosecutors must have proof of the presence of alcohol or drugs. Three tests are utilized:

  1. Urine Test - Used to determine the presence of drugs
  2. Breath Test - Used to determine blood alcohol content
  3. Blood Test - Used to determine blood alcohol content and the presence of drugs

Whenever a Nevada DUI arrest occurs, one of the three tests will be utilized. For alcohol, if the test is done two hours after actual physical control of the car, it cannot be used to prove a per se DUI and can only be used to show the presence of alcohol in the system.

Once a prosecutor proves the presence of drugs or alcohol, they must also prove that you were too impaired to drive.

Proving Impairment for a Nevada DUI

A Nevada DUI under Impairment Theory requires the prosecutor to prove that you were too impaired to operate the vehicle safely. Many prosecutors accomplish this without a problem because most lawyers are not DUI Defense lawyers. Charles Goodwin can help. 

Prosecutors trying to prove impairment rely on the totality of the circumstances. That means they look at everything - from the car in motion to how you interacted during the stop. Prosecutors rely heavily on what officers used to determine the probable cause, whether for an alcohol DUI or a drug DUI. DUI Defense attorney Charles Goodwin speaks about impairment theory for Nevada DUIs:

Impairment theory is very much a, "you know it when you see it." When I'm looking at the evidence for an impairment theory case I generally am looking for how you interact throughout the stop. Were you stumbling when you got out of the car? Was the car weaving while you were driving? Are you able to interact with the officer or are you slurring and can't pay attention? These are all things to consider when fighting an impairment DUI in Nevada. I almost never look to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or the Drug Recognition Expert's findings because they are often too subjective and I know how to fight those.

Simply put: to beat an impairment theory DUI in Nevada, it will come down to the evidence and facts.

How to Beat Impairment Theory

Charles Goodwin, a Nevada DUI Defense attorney, has experience beating DUIs brought under the impairment theory. He has listed three ways to push back on impairment theory:

  1. Using the Science: Testing for impairment can be very difficult. Often, for prescription drugs or marijuana, there might be tolerance built up. High levels of the drugs do not necessarily correlate with impairment. Using the science against them can negate the sometimes shockingly high level of substances found in somebody's system.
  2. Attacking Impairment Tests: Tests that officers use to prove a Nevada DUI like the Standardized Field Sobriety Test and the tests employed by Drug Recognition Experts can have several vulnerabilities. These include improper testing, lack of scientific backing and predictability, and testing on individuals who cannot be measured. 
  3. Investigation: Beating impairment theory Nevada DUIs require a look at all of the facts. A full and thorough investigation is required to determine impairment. The investigation can include going to the location of the stop, collecting medical records, and closely examining bodycams and pictures.

If you face a Nevada DUI prosecutors are attempting to convict you under the impairment theory, you need to call Nevada DUI Defense attorney Charles Goodwin today. He has the experience and knowledge to push back against the police and prosecutors. 

Call Goodwin Law Group today for your no-obligation free consultation! (702) 472 9594

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The Goodwin Law Group, PLLC is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense law issues in Nevada.

We offer a Free Consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Call us today at 702-472-9594.

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