Exercising your right to drive in the state of Nevada comes with many responsibilities. One of the most important involves your obligations if you are ever involved in a car crash.
Nevada law requires you to stop your vehicle at a safe spot on the road and remain on the scene to determine the circumstances of what happened. If the accident caused injuries, you are also required to provide aid safely and within reason. That can include taking the injured person to obtain medical treatment. Failure to abide by these requirements will likely result in criminal charges.
Sometimes people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they cause accidents, and that fact alone prompts them to decide to leave the scene. This compounds the serious criminal consequences, as it means you will likely be charged with both leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence (DUI). You could also find yourself facing additional allegations, such as reckless driving.
Simultaneously facing DUI and hit-and-run charges is a serious matter that requires the advice of experienced criminal defense attorneys. If this happens to you, contact the team at De Castroverde Law Group for an immediate consultation. You can be sure that we will stand by you and protect your rights.
What Is DUI?
Nevada law defines DUI as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Allowable levels drop to 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21. The law punishes DUI of alcohol and controlled substances, as well as intoxication from inhaling chemicals, poisons, or solvents of any type. There are specific thresholds for drugs and other substances. Law enforcement must establish your blood alcohol concentration using a blood or breath test that must be administered within two hours of driving.
A first-time conviction of a DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor under Nevada law, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The exact penalty depends on whether this is your first offense. If your charges involve an accident with injuries, you can expect a more severe sentence. A charge of DUI can be a Class B felony upon your third offense, which comes with a prison sentence of up to six years, a $5,000 fine, and a three-year driver’s license suspension.
Sentences get stiffer if the DUI charge involves accidents that cause injuries or death. In that instance, you could be facing an enhanced Class B felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. If you have had three convictions and then cause the death of someone in a DUI accident, you could be charged with vehicular homicide and be sent to prison for life.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Charge?
“Hit and run” is a non-legal term used to describe the act of leaving the scene of an accident. Under Nevada law, you have an affirmative duty to stop at the scene of a crash that involves your car. The law says you must stop “immediately” or “as close thereto as possible.” Once you do, you’re required to render aid as is practical, as well as share your personal details with the other party, such as your contact information and insurance company policy.
Failure to do so can result in charges of leaving the scene of an accident. The most serious circumstance is if you leave the scene of an accident when someone is injured or when the accident has caused somebody’s death. Conviction on this charge could result in a prison sentence of between two and 20 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
Failure to stop at less serious accidents, such as those causing damage to other cars or surrounding property, is considered a misdemeanor under Nevada law and is punishable by up to six months in prison.
Leaving the Scene of a DUI Accident
What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in which you were driving under the influence? It’s never a good idea, but the answer ultimately depends on the overall facts and circumstances. Generally, you should expect to face separate charges of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.
Prosecutors must prove the elements of each offense separately to obtain a conviction, and there may be defenses. For instance, sometimes drivers don’t realize they have been in an accident and drive away unknowingly. Other times, there may be issues in the timing and administration of the blood or breath test.
If convicted of both charges, sentencing will be up to the court. It does not mean that you will receive back-to-back sentences on each count, but a judge may decide to sentence you more harshly on one count or the other. That’s also true if this is not your first DUI conviction. The sentencing range for leaving the scene of a bodily injury or fatal car crash is quite wide, ranging from two to 20 years.
Leaving the scene could prompt prosecutors to take on an additional charge, such as reckless driving, based on the facts and circumstances of the accident itself. You can contact De Castroverde Law if you are charged with DUI and leaving the scene. We will work with you to understand the facts, explain the law, gather the evidence, and begin crafting a defense.
Criminal Defense Counsel at De Castroverde Law
De Castroverde Law Group is a growing criminal defense, personal injury, and immigration law firm located in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, and most recently, Oakland, California. We’re a family-run, second-generation firm that proudly provides client-centric representation every time.
Our experienced criminal defense team includes several former prosecutors who can help point your case toward the best possible outcome. The De Castroverde team has experience in numerous criminal matters, ranging from casino markers, assault and battery, drug offenses, and DUI to more serious charges, such as murder. Call us or contact us online for a free consultation.