Nevada DUI Laws
If you are arrested for a DUI in Nevada, you are subject to the laws of Nevada. Nevada's law code is called the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). The laws governing DUIs in Nevada can be found in Chapter 484C. It also contains the penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs, but we will be focusing on DUI laws. The Nevada DUI laws in NRS 484C establish:
- The elements for different levels of Nevada DUIs
- The penalties for the different levels of Nevada DUIs
- The ways to challenge a DUI in Nevada
Nevada DUI Defined
Nevada makes it a crime to be operating a vehicle while under the influence. The legal definition of a Nevada DUI can be found in Nevada Revised Statutes as NRS 484C.110, which states:
It is unlawful for any person who:
(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
(b) Has a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath; or
(c) Is found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access.
There are two ways a prosecutor can convict you of a DUI:
- Per Se DUI: Having a blood alcohol concentration of.08 or above, measured within two hours of being in actual physical control of the car.
- Impairment Theory DUI: Blood alcohol content can be BELOW .08, but the driver was still too impaired to drive.
Nevada DUI Penalties
Nevada categorizes DUIs based on how many you have had in the past seven years and whether an accident caused substantial bodily harm or death. NRS 484C.400, 484C.410, 484C.430, and 484C.440 define the penalties for the following DUI charges in Nevada:
- DUI 1st OFFENSE: DUI 1st is a misdemeanor in Nevada and is punishable by a minimum of 2 days in jail and a maximum of six months. Additionally, the court must impose a minimum fine between $400 and $1000. The judge will order anybody convicted to complete a state-sanctioned DUI School, attend a Victim Impact Panel, and order a breath interlock device for at least six months. Additional penalties: If the blood alcohol content is above a .18, then there are enhanced penalties, which are a substance abuse evaluation, and the breath interlock device must be ordered for at least one year.
- DUI 2nd OFFENSE: DUI 2nd is a misdemeanor in Nevada. A second is charged if you have had a previous DUI in Nevada or any state within seven years! The jail time is increased to a minimum of ten days and up to six months but can be served as residential confinement (house arrest) instead, and the fine minimum is also increased to $750 but cannot exceed $1000. Additionally, the court must order an alcohol evaluation, and a breath interlock device will be ordered for a period of at least one year but not to exceed three years.
- DUI 3rd OFFENSE: DUI 3rd is a category B felony in Nevada and is punishable by a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 6 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections in addition to a fine between $2000 and $5000. Probation is prohibited!
- DUI SUBSEQUENT FELONY: A DUI subsequent felony occurs when you have already been to prison for a DUI, OR you were already convicted of a DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm or death. THE 7 YEAR RULE NO LONGER APPLIES! GETTING ANOTHER DUI TWENTY YEARS AFTER YOUR DUI 3RD WILL TRIGGER THIS PENALTY! The penalty for a subsequent DUI is a category B felony. The prison sentence is 2 to 15 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and a fine between $2000 and $5000. Probation is prohibited!
- DUI RESULTING IN DEATH OR SUBSTANTIAL BODILY HARM: If a DUI results in another person's substantial bodily harm or death, it is a category B felony. The prison sentence is 2 to 20 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and a fine between $2000 and $5000. Probation is prohibited!
- DUI - VEHICULAR HOMICIDE: a vehicular homicide charge in Nevada is a category A felony. The prison sentence is either 10 years to life with parole or 10 to 25 years in prison.
Duties of the Prosecutor When a Nevada DUI is Charged
In Nevada, a prosecutor cannot reduce a DUI charge if they reasonably believe they can prove their case. Past criminal history, upstanding character, and one-off situations caused by divorces, being fired or losing a loved one have no bearing on a prosecutor's decision to charge a DUI in Nevada. A DUI can be reduced to something else if there are evidentiary issues present in how the police arrested an individual for a DUI. These issues include:
- NO ACTUAL PHYSICAL CONTROL: For a person to be convicted of a DUI in Nevada, they must be in actual physical control of the vehicle. Several factors are laid out in NRS 484C.109 defining when an individual is in actual physical control.
- INSUFFICIENT PROBABLE CAUSE: A stop of a vehicle must be valid. In addition, there must be sufficient probable cause for the officer to arrest you. Oftentimes the probable cause is simply smelling alcohol in conjunction with driving. It is solidified further through the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing that occurs with every DUI. Officers will often also request a Preliminary Breath Test to confirm the presence of alcohol.
- BLOOD OR BREATH TEST TAKEN OUTSIDE OF TWO HOURS: NRS 484C.110 requires that the blood or breath test be done within two hours of actual physical control of the vehicle. If the test is outside of the two hours, it can still be used persuasively but cannot be used for a per se DUI. You can still be convicted under impairment theory!
Why a Nevada DUI Lawyer is Necessary
When you get a DUI in Nevada, you must find representation. There are certain programs available to reduce a DUI 3rd to a DUI 2nd, and depending on the court, there are also programs to dismiss your first DUI in Nevada completely! Additionally, the three evidentiary issues stated above require a DUI lawyer who knows the law to spot them and bring them up to the prosecutor. A prosecutor will not willingly give a reduction in a Nevada DUI. The DUI lawyer has to demand it based on the evidentiary issues.
Charles Goodwin is a DUI Lawyer in Nevada who knows how to spot those issues. As a member of the National College for DUI Defense, he is familiar with the proper way to conduct a standardized field sobriety test, the indicators for impaired driving while the vehicle is in motion and the methods for testing for blood alcohol content. If you are being charged with a DUI in Nevada, contact Charles at Goodwin Law Group, PLLC today!