Under NRS 484C.110, driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in Nevada. In other words, it’s against the law for someone to operate a vehicle if:
- They’re under the influence of a controlled substance or intoxicating liquor.
- They have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08.
- They have a combination of a controlled substance and alcohol in their system.
If law enforcement charges you with a DUI and you get convicted, you may face penalties such as jail time and fines. You may even lose driving privileges and have a hard time getting a job since your record is accessible to employers.
If, in addition, you allegedly caused a car accident while under the influence, the court may enhance your penalties.
Fighting these charges can feel insurmountable. However, the good news is that you don’t have to face this on your own. A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at our firm can represent you throughout all legal proceedings and build a defense strategy that aims to keep you out of jail.
This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about DUI in Nevada—from the laws to your rights to how a lawyer can help.
- DUI in Nevada: The Basics
- DUI in Nevada: The Laws
- DUI in Nevada: Your Rights
- DUI in Nevada: Field Sobriety Tests and the Breathalyzer
- DUI in Nevada: Rental Cars
- DUI in Nevada: License Suspension
- DUI in Nevada: Auto Insurance
- DUI Arrests and Accidents in Nevada
- What Happens if I Get Arrested for a DUI?
- DUI Resulting in Property Damage: What Do I Do?
- DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury: What Do I Do?
- DUI Resulting in Death: What Do I Do?
- Frequently Asked Questions: Nevada Driving Under the Influence
- Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer in Nevada
Our team is standing by to hear your story and listen to what happened. Reach out to De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers today to get started.
DUI in Nevada: The Basics
Before we dive into the details of DUI in Nevada, let’s start with the basics.
Do I Need a Driver’s License in Nevada?
Yes. If you want to operate a car, van, or pickup truck, you must get a Class C driver’s license. According to Driving-Tests.org, to apply for a license, you must:
- Complete the application
- Go to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and provide them with the required documents
- Take and pass the knowledge, vision, and skills exams
Not all applicants will follow this exact route, depending on age.
Nevada residents who are 15 ½ years old can apply for an instruction permit. If you are 16 to 18 years old and hold an instruction permit, you can apply for a full driver’s license (with certain restrictions until you turn 18), and those 18 and up who are first-timers or who hold an instruction permit may apply and take the exams for a full (adult) driver’s license.
Training for the road is paramount to driver safety. It will help you:
- Learn defensive driving, including how to avoid an accident
- Understand different types of accidents
- Know how to respond in inclement weather conditions and heavy traffic
- Identify bad driving behaviors
- Know what to pay close attention to while on the road
- Know how to maintain your vehicle and diagnose a problem
- Gain an understanding of road rules and the basic elements of driving
According to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), most drivers under 18 must complete a driver education class. They can enroll in a class as soon as they turn 15. Keep in mind, though, that driving education is a requirement of the license, not the initial permit.
New drivers generally have three options:
- Attend and pass an in-person class and complete 50 hours of driving
- Take and complete an online class, as well as 50 hours of driving
- Complete 100 hours of driving if you have no internet connection and classes aren’t offered within 30 miles of your home
All schools must be approved by the DMV.
This list comprises licensed schools for new drivers training for their license. In Las Vegas, your options include:
- Favor Driving School
- Safe Driving School
- Northwest Driving and Traffic School
- Giron Driving School
- Nevada 30-Hour Teen Driver’s Ed
- Nevada Drive Academy
- NV Drivers Ed
- Driving to Independence
- Coastline One LLC
- Drive Smart! Drive School
- Street Smart Driving School
- Teresa’s Driving School
- Cantor’s Driving School
- Silver State Driving Academy
- Safeway Driving School
- Saferide Driving Academy LLC
- Driver Ed To Go
If you complete a driving course in Nevada, some insurance companies offer a discount on your auto insurance (usually around 10 percent). It depends on the insurer and their eligibility rules.
What is a DUI?
DUI stands for driving under the influence. Nevada law defines DUI as:
- Having a BAC of 0.08 or more—whether at the time of the test or within two hours after driving
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance—whether through inhalation, ingestion, or application
- Being under the influence of intoxicating liquor and controlled substance combined
Having a certain amount of these controlled substances may warrant a DUI arrest:
|Prohibited substance||Urine Nanograms in milliliters (mL)||Blood Nanograms in milliliters|
|Amphetamine||500 mL||100 mL|
|Cocaine||150 mL||50 mL|
|Cocaine metabolite||150 mL||50 mL|
|Heroin||2000 mL||50 mL|
|Morphine||2000 mL||50 mL|
|6-monoacetyl||10 mL||10 mL|
|Lysergic diethylamide||25 mL||10 mL|
|Methamphetamine||500 mL||100 mL|
|Phencyclidine||25 mL||10 mL|
|Marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)||2 mL|
The Different Types of DUI
The extent of your penalties will depend on how many prior convictions you have as well as how intoxicated you were at the time of your arrest.
According to NRS 484C.400, the state treats it as a misdemeanor if it’s your first time (or the first time in seven years) getting a DUI. These penalties usually include:
- Fines from $400 to $1000
- Online DUI school
- 2 days to 6 months in jail
- A Victim Impact Panel
- 48 to 96 hours of community service
- License suspension of up to 185 days
For your 2nd DUI in seven years, it’s also a misdemeanor, with penalties that could include:
- Fines from $750 to $1000
- 10 days to 6 months in jail
- Ignition interlock device from 185 days to 3 years
- License suspension of up to 1 year
- Drug and alcohol dependency evaluation
- Victim Impact Panel
For your 3rd DUI in seven years, it’s considered a Category B felony, which generally has these penalties:
- Fines from $2000 to $5000
- 1 to 6 years in state prison
- License suspension of up to 3 years
- Victim Impact Panel
- Drug and alcohol dependency evaluation
Under NRS 484C.410, if you get a DUI again after getting a DUI felony conviction, the penalties may include:
- Fines from $2,000 to $15,000
- 2 to 15 years in prison
- License suspension of up to 3 years
DUI in Nevada: The Laws
Nevada enforces strict laws when it comes to driving under the influence.
The Definition of DUI
Under NRS 484C.110, driving under the influence is when someone operates a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher within two hours after driving.
Those driving with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can’t have higher than a 0.04 BAC.
Drivers under 21 are not permitted to have a BAC above 0.02.
You can’t be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving in Nevada. The state imposes legal limits on controlled substances.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
The penalties you may face if you are convicted of a drug offense vary depending on your criminal history and the severity of the alleged crime.
|DUI Offense||Applicable Law||Charge||Penalties|
|1st DUI or 1st DUI in 7 years||NRS 484C.400||Misdemeanor||– Fines: $400 to $1000
– Jail time: 2 days to 180 days, or 48 to 96 hours of community service
– License suspension: Up to 185 days
– Ignition interlock: Up to 185 days or 1 to 3 years, depending on BAC
– Victim Impact Panel
|2nd DUI or 2nd DUI in 7 years||NRS 484C.400||Misdemeanor||– Fines: $750 to $1000
– Jail time: 10 days to 180 days
– License suspension: up to 1 year
– Ignition interlock: Up to 185 days or 1 to 3 years, depending on BAC
– Victim Impact Panel
|3rd DUI or 3rd DUI in 7 years||NRS 484C.400||Category B Felony||– Fines: $2000 to $5000
– Prison time: 1 to 6 years
– License suspension: Up to 3 years
– Ignition Interlock: 1 to 3 years
|DUI After a Conviction of a Felony DUI||NRS 484C.410||Category B Felony||– Fines: $2000 to $5000
– Prison time: 2 to 15 years
– License suspension: Up to 3 years
|DUI Resulting in Injury or Death||NRS 484C.430||Category B Felony||– Fines: $2000 to $5000
– Prison time: 2 to 20 years
– License suspension: Up to 3 years
Implied Consent Laws
According to NRS 484C.150, Nevada is a state with an implied consent law. Anyone arrested for a DUI automatically consents to take a blood, breath, or urine test. Those who refuse may risk losing their license.
DUI in Nevada: Your Rights
Knowing your rights when getting pulled over and being suspected of driving under the influence may play a key role in the success of your case. This section will give you an inside look at what you should and should not say to the police and how the investigation will go.
Your Rights at a Traffic Stop and DUI Checkpoints
Police officers must stop drivers who are speeding, appear under the influence, or otherwise break a traffic law. Under NRS 484B.550, you must pull over to the side of the road when an officer signals for you to do so via a red lamp and a siren. Should you refuse, willfully fail, or flee the scene, you may have committed a Category B felony. If convicted, the penalties may include:
- 1 to 6 years in a state prison
- Fines of up to $5000
These penalties increase if you caused injury or death.
When you pull over, follow the officer’s instructions. Give them your license and registration. However, your Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights still stand, so you don’t have to answer any of the officer’s questions. You can wait to speak with them until you have a Las Vegas DUI defense attorney with you.
Police officers also carry out DUI checkpoints in which they stop all drivers who pass through. Here, they organize roadblocks to check whether drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The police usually set up these checkpoints on major holidays or when there’s a big event going on in the area.
When you pull up to a checkpoint:
- Answer all the questions they ask you.
- Follow what they say.
- Don’t leave until they say you’re good to go.
In the event they think you’re under the influence or smell alcohol on you, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test, which you do not have to take.
Your Rights During a DUI Investigation
If the police suspect you are under the influence, they may request that you undergo a field sobriety test (FST), which typically comprises:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus: This test involves the officer instructing you to follow their finger, a penlight, or another stimulus with your eyes. If you exhibit an involuntary jerking motion, the cops may deem you to be under the influence.
- Walk and turn: The police may ask you to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, and then turn around and do the same. If you start walking too soon, abruptly stop walking, use your arms for balance, or take more or fewer steps than told, the officer could believe you to be under the influence.
- The one-leg stand: The officer may ask you to exit your car and stand on one leg with the other foot roughly six inches off the ground. Then they would have you count to 30 in thousands (“one one thousand, two one thousand,” etc.). Should you sway, put your foot down, jump, or put your arms out instead of at your sides, they may assume you to be under the influence.
You are NOT required to take these tests and can refuse to take them.
Furthermore, these tests aren’t reliable. For example:
- Inclement weather could affect the results.
- Poor traffic conditions may alter the way the driver takes the test.
- The officer doesn’t always administer the test properly.
- The driver feels scared or has an injury or medical condition (e.g., anxiety, mental disabilities, inner ear complications, fatigue, or poor balance) that keeps them from passing the test.
If you decide to take the field sobriety test and fail, it typically won’t hold much value in your case. The court may not find you guilty based on this one test that is known for having faulty results.
However, the police may have you take a chemical test. You cannot refuse to take one of these. According to NRS 484C.180, you could have grounds to personally choose a qualified person to administer the test, but only if law enforcement deems it reasonable.
Under the implied consent law, NRS 484C.150, whenever you drive a vehicle on the streets of Nevada, you automatically consent to take a blood, breath, or urine test. Should you try to refuse, the police could take away your license for up to three years, arrest you, and force you to take the test at the nearest police location. Also, the prosecution could use your refusal as evidence against you if you go to trial.
Generally speaking, you have the right to request the breath test via a breathalyzer as opposed to a blood test. However, if you wish to take the blood test, you can. Just keep in mind if you’re convicted, you’ll probably have to cover the costs of it.
You may have grounds to challenge the police revoking your license and request a hearing in court. If you request this hearing, you may be able to ask for a temporary license until your court date.
DUI in Nevada: Field Sobriety Tests and the Breathalyzer
If an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, they may request you take a test to determine your BAC.
Field Sobriety Tests
Again, generally speaking, you do NOT have to take a field sobriety test. Because they are voluntary, your refusal to take one shouldn’t lead to penalties or affect your case in a trial. At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers, we encourage you not to take them, as:
- The prosecution could try to use the results against you.
- The officer may have a preconceived notion of what the results will be.
- They are very unreliable.
- You can fail the test even if you’re not under the influence.
There are three main types of field sobriety tests that law enforcement administer:
Walk and Turn Test
The officer will instruct you to walk in a straight line, with your hands at your sides, taking nine heel-to-toe steps forward and nine heel-to-toe steps back. They may suspect that you are under the influence if you:
- Start walking too soon
- Don’t walk in a straight line
- Turn incorrectly
- Take the wrong number of steps
- Stop in the middle of walking
- Use your arms for balance
According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that walk and turn tests only have about a 66 percent reliability score. That means it doesn’t produce accurate results for one-third of the participants, which is a pretty substantial number.
Factors that may affect the outcome of the test include a slick or busy road or participants who are older, have poor balance or are anxious about being pulled over.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
This test is a non-invasive eye exam law enforcement administers on those whom they suspect were driving under the influence. The officer holds up a penlight or their finger and instructs the driver to follow it back and forth. If their eyes jerk involuntarily during the test, the officer may suspect they’re intoxicated.
FieldSobrietyTests.org says this test has a 77 percent accuracy rate, so one in four people who take it aren’t going to get an accurate reading. This could be because:
- The officer didn’t properly administer the test (e.g., their hand was shaking, they didn’t put the light at eye level, didn’t give good instructions, etc.).
- The flashing lights from the cop car threw off the driver’s vision.
- The driver has a head injury or poor vision.
One-leg stand test
Another way an officer may determine if you’re possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the one-leg stand test. In this test, the officer may instruct the driver to put their hands to their sides and lift one foot about six inches off the ground for about 30 seconds.
If they sway, hop, put their foot on the ground, or extend their arms to balance, it may lead the officer to believe that the driver could be under the influence. This test has about a 65 percent accuracy rate, per FieldSobrietyTests.org. This level of accuracy may be due to:
- Some people having poor balance, especially those over 60 years of age
- The test being conducted on an uneven or slippery surface
- The driver wearing heels or baggy clothing
- The officer moving around, which could throw off the driver’s attention
If you still choose to participate in a field sobriety test and you fail, that doesn’t mean you get automatically convicted of a DUI. These test results don’t hold much value in the case since they’re known for their faulty results.
According to Nevada’s implied consent law, you cannot legally refuse to take a breath test. As such, when you operate a vehicle in Nevada, you’re consenting to law enforcement administering this test if they suspect you’re driving under the influence.
If you refuse, the police could arrest you for a DUI on the spot and revoke your license. Then, they could force you to take a breath or blood test at the nearest police station. In addition, the prosecution could take your refusal to take the test as an admission of guilt.
Once you get to the police station, you may opt to take the breath test if the police suspect you of drunk driving, especially if this is your first time. If you fail the breath test, you might have to take a blood or urine test.
However, if they think you are under the influence of controlled substances rather than alcohol, the breath test won’t pick up traces of it, so you’ll have to undergo a blood test instead.
You may have to pay for all the associated testing costs, especially if you fail them.
If you fail any or all of these tests, your case isn’t closed just yet. In fact, it’s just the beginning. From that point, you may want to consider consulting a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer on our team to prepare you for the legal process and advocate for you in and out of court.
What Our DUI Lawyer in Las Vegas Can Do to Suppress Evidence
Sometimes, law enforcement illegally obtains evidence when they arrest and charge you with a DUI. For example:
- The officer may have given the wrong directions.
- The officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion (e.g., weaving in and out of traffic) or probable cause (e.g., your BAC is 0.08 or more) to pull you over and have you undergo the sobriety or chemical tests.
- The blood test samples were contaminated or improperly transported to the lab, breaking the chain of custody.
- The officer administered the tests incorrectly.
If you qualify, you may be able to file a motion to suppress evidence. The state may dismiss your case should the judge grant this motion. Such evidence could include:
- Witness statements
- Sobriety test results
- Blood, breath, or urine test results
- Police bodycam footage
- Relevant photographs
- Your medical records
- The police report
Our Nevada criminal defense lawyer can help review the prosecution’s evidence and determine whether there are any gaps in their narrative.
DUI Cases That Have Been Dismissed Due to Unreliable Sobriety Testing
It’s not uncommon for judges to throw DUI cases out of court because of unlawfully obtained evidence.
Examples of such cases include:
- Cleveland v. Krivich: The officer failed to properly instruct the driver on how to take the sobriety test. Despite having failed the test, the officer’s shortcoming invalidated the case.
- South Dakota v. Neville 522 U.S. 136: A driver suspected of drunk driving refused to take a blood alcohol test. The police arrested him and said that if he refused, he would get his license revoked. However, they didn’t tell him that refusing a test could be used against him in the trial. As a result, the court granted the driver’s motion to suppress the evidence gathered at the scene.
DUI in Nevada: Rental Cars
Las Vegas is one of the most famous travel destinations in the country, and possibly the world. With all this tourism, rental car companies flock here to do business.
Partying and consuming alcohol mixed with driving a rental car can lead to accidents, so law enforcement is always on the lookout for questionable driving behaviors. If you’re pulled over and the police suspect you’ve been driving under the influence, you may wonder what will happen with the rental car company or what type of insurance you can get if you’re in an accident.
We’ve got you covered.
Generally speaking, there aren’t really any procedural differences between getting a DUI in your personal vehicle and getting one in a rental car. However, you may want to consider what happens following the arrest.
The arresting officer may confiscate your license, so returning the rental car could be difficult. Fortunately, one of our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can help you get a temporary license so that you can drive it back to the rental car company. Otherwise, law enforcement may call them and arrange for them to come and get the car.
The police may have the car impounded to prevent you from committing other drunk driving offenses. In that event, paying for repairs and other associated charges will be on you. Let’s say you’ve got collision coverage, though. That may take of such expenses.
Also, the rental car company may not care if you got a DUI. As long as you bring the car back to them at the end of the allotted time in good condition, they may not charge additional fees.
However, if you want to rent a car from them again, know that they have the right to refuse to rent out a car to someone who has a history of DUI.
If You Were in a DUI Accident With a Rental Car
Nevada is a fault state, which means anyone who causes an accident is liable for the resulting damages. However, since you were in a rental car, this factor may complicate the situation, as more policies could cover the damages.
Rental cars don’t automatically come with liability insurance, but they do offer it. This could include:
- Loss damage waiver (LDW), which waives your financial responsibility if someone stole the car or if it sustained damage in an accident
- Collision damage waiver (CDW), which waives your financial obligation to cover damages the rental car sustained in an accident
- Supplemental liability protection, which covers the property repair costs if you cause damage to another party’s vehicle in a crash, generally up to $1 million
You may choose to opt-out of these coverages, especially if you already have sufficient auto insurance. For example, if you have collision coverage (for car accident-related losses) or comprehensive coverage (non-car accident-related losses like natural disasters or theft), they may come into play right away should you cause damage to the rental car.
If you own a vehicle, chances are you have property damage liability. This coverage aims to pay for the damage you cause to another person’s vehicle in a crash. It may also apply if your actions contribute to a crash while you’re in a rental car. However, it’s important to note that this insurance does not cover the damages to the rental car.
If you caused the other party’s injuries in a crash while driving a rental car, the bodily injury insurance you have for your personal car would kick in. This coverage aims to pay for the costs of treating the other party’s injuries. However, just like property damage insurance, it doesn’t account for the medical bills you or your passengers incur in the crash.
Sometimes, credit card companies offer property damage liability insurance when you rent a car. Contact your credit card company to see if this option is available to you.
DUI in Nevada: License Suspension
Getting charged with a DUI can prompt the state to suspend or revoke your driver’s license. It’s one of the mandatory penalties for this charge. According to the Nevada DMV, if it’s your first offense, the minimum revocation time is 185 days. NRS 484C.400 affirms that those who commit a second offense can lose it for up to a year. For third-time offenders, your license can be suspended or revoked for three years.
This deprivation may automatically kick in when you get charged—it depends on how long it takes to get the results of the test.
You may be eligible to get a temporary license that lasts for seven days. Within that time, you could write to request a hearing from the DMV and challenge your license revocation. If not, you have to wait the 185 days (starting the day after your temporary license expires) for the state to reinstate your license if this is your first offense. However, if you get an ignition interlock device, you could get a restricted license after just 90 days of the revocation period.
Those who have allegedly committed a second DUI offense may not be eligible for a restricted license before their one-year revocation. Those who are accused of committing a felony (three or more DUIs), may be able to have a restricted license after a year if they have the ignition interlock installed in their car.
We urge you not to drive during your revocation period. According to NRS 483.560, if you’re charged and convicted of this misdemeanor, you may face penalties, such as:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Up to $1000 in fines
- An extension of the existing license revocation period
After the revocation period is up, you must apply for a new license, even if the prosecution dismisses or reduces the charges. In doing so, the DMV has you present a Certificate of Compliance at a DMV location and follow other procedures, like passing a written exam, paying reinstatement fees, and acquiring SR-22 insurance.
The DUI License Revocation Hearing
Depending on the type of chemical test you took (e.g., blood, breath, or urine), you may not receive the results for another three or four months.
If the results show you had a BAC of at least 0.08 or controlled substances in your system at the time of the test, you can challenge your license suspension before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the Nevada Office of Administrative Hearings.
Note that these are civil hearings rather than criminal trials. Your lawyer can even attend in your place if you wish.
Generally speaking, the judge will issue their ruling within 30 days of the hearing. Should you win the hearing, you may resume driving and apply for a duplicate license. However, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear of not getting your license revoked, as you still have to go to trial.
The DUI license revocation hearing serves as more of a precursor to the trial and gives the attorneys an idea of what to expect when it comes to going to court. If you lose the hearing and the trial or even just the trial, you are still subject to license revocation.
You can appeal the decision if the administrative law judge doesn’t rule in your favor. If not, the revocation period begins when the judge decides your case.
It can be intimidating to go up against the court system on your own, so you may want to consider hiring one of our DUI lawyers in Las Vegas to represent you throughout these legal proceedings.
DUI in Nevada: Auto Insurance
According to NRS 687B.320, your insurance company can only drop you in the middle of the agreed term under certain circumstances, like if you never paid your premium. If nothing like that exists in your case, they may not be able to cancel your policy because of your DUI, so you can pay out your premium until the yearly agreement ends.
After you get a DUI in Las Vegas, chances are your auto insurance premiums will go up once your previous policy expires. As such, your insurance provider may classify you as high-risk—whether it’s your first time and your BAC was low or it’s your third offense. It’s difficult to say the average amount they will raise your rate since every case and insurance policy differs.
You may want to consider calling the Nevada Insurance Department (NID) and speaking to an agent about a “high-risk” insurance rate that you can still afford.
Before you apply to have your license reinstated, you must get what’s known as an SR-22 for three years, per NRS 483.525. An SR-22 is a special insurance coverage document for high-risk drivers that acts as proof of financial responsibility. Even if you don’t have a car, you still have to maintain this coverage. You would just purchase the non-owner SR-22 option.
This document shows you have financial accountability should you cause an accident. You must purchase the minimum amount of coverage, which according to the DMV, includes:
- $25,000 per bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 per bodily injury or death of two people in an accident
- $20,000 for someone else’s property in an accident
If you let your SR-22 insurance lapse before the three-year period ends, you will probably lose all the credit that accounted for the time you had it. That means you’ll have to start over, buy a new policy, and maintain it for another three years. The DMV also enforces penalties for lapses in SR-22 insurance policies. The severity of these penalties depends on how long the lapse was and whether you have a history of lapses.
After your three years of the SR-22 policy, you can purchase a new insurance policy or renew your previous one. Make sure you have the following information ready when you’re eligible to take this step and report your new policy to the DMV:
- The insurance company
- The policy number
- The effective dates
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Navigating Nevada’s insurance process can make you feel like you’re lost in a maze, so you may benefit from retaining a Las Vegas DUI defense attorney from our team. They can guide you throughout the process and help you comply with Nevada law.
DUI Arrests and Accidents in Nevada
Understanding the effects that driving under the influence can have can help drivers make smarter and more informed decisions before getting behind the wheel. Being safe on the road could make all the difference in whether someone lives or dies. So, if you’re going to drink or take other drugs, don’t drive. Get a ride home with a sober friend, call a taxi or Uber, or plan to stay the night at a friend’s house.
According to the Nevada Department of Transportation (DOT), impaired driving accounts for a full 42.7 percent of Nevada’s total car-related deaths.
This sobering statistic shows that impaired driving crashes are the leading cause of traffic deaths in the state. Thankfully, the number has gone down recently over a period of five years. Still, there were 609 fatal crashes and 682 deaths during this time frame.
These crashes occur in urban areas 68 percent of the time, while 31 percent happen in rural areas.
Clark County sees more impaired driving accidents than any other county in the state, with 388 intoxicated crashes in those five years.
It’s not uncommon for the drivers to have alcohol, marijuana, or a mix of substances in their system at the time of the crash.
Males aged 21 to 25 are usually the at-fault driver in impaired driving crashes, accounting for almost 80 of them at 13 percent. Males 26 to 30 (73 crashes at 12 percent) and males 31 to 35 (68 crashes at 11 percent) follow.
About 1 in 5 impaired driving accidents happen between 9 pm and 11:59 pm. Really, more than half of them occur at night, with about 40 percent taking place on Saturdays and Sundays. Reportedly, September saw the highest number of such collisions, followed by July.
The DOT also notes that 31 percent of these impaired drivers get into a single-vehicle accident and hit a fixed object.
Driving Under the Influence Statistics in the United States
Nevada isn’t the only state stricken with impaired (especially alcohol-related) driving crashes. It’s a nationwide epidemic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 32 people pass away from drunk driving accident injuries in the United States every day, which equates to someone dying roughly every 45 minutes. In just one year, 11,654 people across the United States lost their lives to alcohol-related crashes. That’s about 30 percent of all traffic accident deaths.
The NHTSA affirmed those aged 21 to 24 and those aged 25 to 34 had the highest rates of drunk driving among any other age group. There were also four impaired male drivers involved in these crashes for every impaired female driver.
The majority of drunk driving crashes occurred in urban areas, at 58 percent. Similar to Nevada, they’re more likely to happen at night and usually only one vehicle is involved. However, August had the highest rate of inebriated crashes across the country, followed by June and July. September, the month in which most impaired driving accidents occurred in Nevada, ranked number four nationwide.
Drunk driving isn’t the only type of impaired driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addresses the fact that drugged driving can also be deadly. This happens when someone drives under the influence of marijuana, prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, or illicit drugs. In just one year, 12.6 million people admitted to driving impaired due to marijuana or other illegal substances.
All of these accidents we’ve discussed are preventable. Whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or other substances, driving under the influence is NEVER worth it. It could cost someone their life, possibly your own.
How a Las Vegas DUI Defense Lawyer on Our Team Can Help You
If you have been accused of driving under the influence in Las Vegas, Nevada, you don’t have to go through this on your own. A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney from De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers can fight for you and take on all aspects of your DUI case.
Some of the responsibilities we can assume include:
- Collecting and analyzing evidence
- Working to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed
- Trying to have your bail reduced
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses
- Building a defense strategy tailored to your situation
- Negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutors
- Determining which laws apply to your DUI case
- Communicating with the court and other relevant parties
- Keeping you up to date on the status of your case
- Representing you throughout all legal proceedings
At our firm, we understand how much getting convicted of a DUI can upend your life, so our defense lawyers aim to preserve your rights and freedom.
What Happens if I Get Arrested for a DUI?
Getting arrested for a DUI in Nevada can be terrifying, especially if you’re not familiar with the criminal law system or don’t know what to expect from the process.
To make it easier to digest, we’ve provided a brief overview of what happens from the moment the officer suspects you’re driving under the influence until you bond out.
The Police Pull You Over
The DUI investigation begins when the cop pulls you over at a DUI checkpoint, after an accident, or if they suspect you of driving under the influence.
If they believe you show signs of intoxication, they may request you take a field sobriety test (which you can refuse) or take a breathalyzer test (which you cannot refuse).
According to NRS 484C.110, if you fail these tests, the police could arrest you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or having a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Once the police officer arrests you, they’ll take your license and send it to the DMV to revoke it. Until then, they’ll put you in handcuffs and take you to the police station to get a chemical test (via blood or breath) to measure your BAC.
If you refuse the test, the state will revoke your license for up to a year (if this is your first offense).
When you have your booking for a DUI, the police will take your personal information, picture, and fingerprints. In addition, they may inventory your possessions.
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and criminal history, the police may release you after your booking. You could be released on your own recognizance without paying a fine (also called “OR release”) or you may have to post bail. Windows for bail are open 24 hours, and bail for a misdemeanor is usually set following a bail schedule. Those charged with a felony DUI will have their bail set during a hearing before a judge.
Once the police release you, they’ll fill out a DUI report and send it to the prosecution for their review. They may choose to forgo pressing charges or charge you with a DUI.
If you are charged, they will issue you a citation and instruct you to show up in court on a certain date for your arraignment. Make sure you go when they tell you. Otherwise, you’ll get a bench warrant for arrest and basically tell the court you’re forfeiting your bail.
In any event, once you’re released, you may want to think about retaining legal representation. Although not hiring an attorney may save you some money in the foreseeable future, it may also hurt you in the long run. Our lawyers know the system, as well as how to help keep you out of jail and save you from paying the penalty fines.
The court may assign you a public defender, but they’re often overworked and randomly assigned to you. A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney on our team can listen to your story and custom-tailor their services and approach to meet your specific needs.
The DUI Hearing
After your arrest, you’ll have seven days to request a hearing to challenge your license revocation, which is optional. Also, during this time, the police may issue you a temporary license that lasts for seven days.
If you forgo making this request for a hearing, the DMV automatically revokes your license.
This hearing is not the same as a criminal case. Rather than determining whether you are guilty of driving under the influence, this hearing considers whether it was right for the DMV to revoke your license. Note that this hearing does NOT affect the outcome of your criminal trial, but it may help you, as it could give you some leverage to negotiate a plea bargain and analyze the officer’s testimony.
DUI hearings with the DMV are difficult to win. However, if the arresting officer doesn’t turn up, you may win by default.
An attorney who handles Las Vegas DUI cases can represent you during your hearing.
The DUI Trial
The trial phase for a DUI charge can end at any point, so you may not get to the stage where you go before a jury. However, generally speaking, the process usually goes like this:
- The arraignment: The prosecution formally charges you and you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Here, the judge will set up your court date. If you hire a Las Vegas DUI defense attorney, they can speak for you during the entire arraignment.
- Negotiations: Your lawyer and the prosecutor may negotiate a plea bargain so you can have a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. If negotiations succeed, you may not have to go to trial.
- Pre-trial motions: You usually enter the pre-trial phase when neither side can agree on a plea bargain, but they could still continue. This stage may involve interviewing witnesses and experts or suppressing evidence. The more serious your charges, the longer the pre-trial phase may be.
- Trial: You don’t have a right to a jury trial if you have a misdemeanor charge. A judge alone will decide the verdict in a bench trial. However, if you have a felony charge, you may request either a bench or jury trial. If you go with the latter, it’ll take longer than a bench charge, as it comprises jury selection, opening arguments, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, closing arguments, the verdict, and sentencing.
If the judge or jury orders a guilty verdict, your lawyer may file an appeal and request a new trial on your behalf.
At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers, our job is to help keep you out of jail and from paying high fines. One of our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can create a defense strategy and fight for your best interests throughout all legal proceedings.
DUI Resulting in Property Damage: What Do I Do?
We’ve seen that driving under the influence already comes with penalties if convicted. However, if you cause property damage on top of this charge, the severity of the penalties may increase.
To help keep the possible penalties low, behave as you would if you were simply in an accident. Pull over to safety, exchange information with the other driver, and wait for the police to come.
All too often, the at-fault driver flees the scene of the crash. According to NRS 484E.020, the state considers a hit and run a misdemeanor. The statute instructs you to stop, but if that obstructs the roadway, you may pull over to the side of the road.
If you flee the scene and get convicted, penalties could include up to a $1000 fine and six months in jail (if it’s your first offense).
Will I Pay for the Property Damage in a DUI Accident Case?
If the insurance company and courts decide that you bear responsibility for the accident, your insurance provider will pay for the property damage you caused to the other party’s vehicle, but not yours. This may include the costs for car repair or the price of the current market value of the car if it was totaled.
What To Do if You Face a DUI Resulting in a Property Damage Charge
Once the police arrive at the scene, they’ll have you take a sobriety or chemical test to determine whether you are under the influence. If you fail, they’ll confiscate your license and send it to the DMV to revoke it.
Remember that if the police question you, you don’t have to answer and you can request a lawyer. Not only can they speak for you during police questioning, but they can also manage other aspects of your case. Similar to getting a DUI without property damage, they can guide you throughout the entirety of the legal process and:
- Review the evidence and look for any police procedural violations during the arrest
- Represent you during a DMV hearing, if applicable
- Speak for you during the arraignment
- Negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution
- Handle pre-trial motions (e.g., interviewing witnesses, filing a motion to suppress evidence, etc.)
- Advocate for you in a trial, if applicable
- Appeal the verdict and request a new trial
A DUI property damage conviction can turn your life upside down. However, our Las Vegas DUI lawyers can work to reduce or dismiss these charges so you can avoid jail time and paying out hefty fines.
Call De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers today to get started on your case.
DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury: What Do I Do?
A DUI already carries severe penalties, but causing an accident and injury only adds to it, especially if someone sustained long-term injuries. According to NRS 484C.430, driving under the influence and causing a bodily injury may invoke a Class B felony in Nevada. Penalties may include:
- Up to $5000 in fines
- 2 to 20 years in a state prison
- License suspension of up to 3 years
Bodily injury refers to any injury inflicted on the body. It’s an umbrella term that covers all types of injuries. On the other hand, according to NRS 0.060, substantial bodily harm describes a bodily injury that causes permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of the function of a body part or organ, heightened risk of death, or long-lasting physical pain.
Injuries that accident victims could face include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures or broken bones
- Organ damage
- Chest trauma
- Abdominal injuries
- Cuts and bruises
The severity, pain, required medical attention, and expected prognosis of each of these injuries determines whether it’s considered a bodily injury or substantial bodily harm.
When the prosecutor charges you, they must allege you caused substantial bodily harm and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in the trial. They may use medical records and testimony to convince the jury or judge that you’re guilty of this crime.
If you hire our firm, your Nevada criminal defense attorney can put their resources, experience, and knowledge to work to combat these claims.
- They can review the evidence and/or file a motion to suppress it (e.g., video footage, accident reconstruction analysis, the police report, medical records, or testimonies).
- Your lawyer may represent you during the police questioning or arraignment.
- Your attorney can go back and forth with the prosecution to secure a plea bargain for you.
- We can form a defense strategy that fights the allegations (e.g., police didn’t properly administer the chemical or sobriety test, your medical condition affected your driving, the tests were defective, etc.).
- If we have to go to trial, our attorneys can represent you throughout the entire process.
All in all, we aim for the prosecution to reduce or drop your charges.
If the prosecution doesn’t dismiss the case, we may request they reduce the charges to a misdemeanor for reckless driving.
Our team is ready to listen to what happened. Reach out to our firm today to begin your consultation with us.
DUI Resulting in Death: What Do I Do?
Nevada considers driving under the influence and thereby causing someone’s death a Class B felony, per NRS 0.060. If this is your first time getting this charge and you’re convicted, you may face penalties such as:
- Fines up to $5000
- 2 to 20 years in a state prison
- License suspension of up to 3 years
If the circumstances of what happened don’t reflect the aforementioned charge, the prosecution may charge you with:
- Vehicular homicide: If you have three prior DUI convictions and you have allegedly committed a DUI causing death, you could be charged with vehicular homicide, according to NRS 484C.440. You could serve anywhere from 25 years or the rest of your life in state prison. In either case, you may be eligible for parole after 10 years. If you had a minor under 15 in your vehicle at the time of the accident, the state considers this an aggravating factor, which may affect your sentencing.
- Reckless driving causing death: Let’s say you were originally charged with driving under the influence that caused death. Hypothetically, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, and they could agree on a reckless driving causing death charge. The nature of this charge assumes that you were not under the influence but engaged in risky and irresponsible driving that resulted in another person’s demise. This is a category B felony with penalties of up to $5000 in fines, 6 years in prison, and community service under NRS 484B.653.
- Vehicular manslaughter: Like reckless driving causing death, you don’t have to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol to face this charge. According to NRS 484B.657, it alleges that your negligent driving led to someone losing their life. These misdemeanor charges may result in up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1000 in fines.
If you were charged with any of these offenses, a Las Vegas DUI defense attorney with De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers can guide you throughout the legal proceedings and undertake:
- Speaking on your behalf during police questioning
- Representing you during your DMV hearing, if you request one
- Speaking to the judge during your arraignment and stating your plea
- Examining evidence and negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor
- Managing pre-trial motions
- Arguing your case in a trial, whether it’s in front of a judge or jury
- Filing an appeal if you received a guilty verdict
We know that the consequences of any of these charges can take a toll on your livelihood, so our criminal defense lawyers can fight to protect your rights and reduce or drop your charges.
You can also rely on your lawyer to regularly update you on how your case is going and make themselves available to you during the entire legal process. We want to make sure you’re as comfortable and confident as possible during this difficult time.
To learn more about how our firm can help you, get in touch with De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers today.
Frequently Asked Questions: Nevada Driving Under the Influence
We’ve helped hundreds of clients with their Nevada DUI cases. Over the years, our attorneys have noticed that certain questions come up quite a bit. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions.
Hopefully, it will help clear things up. If you need further clarification, we encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible.
What’s the Difference Between a DUI and DWI?
The Nevada legal system uses the term “driving under the influence” (DUI). In other states, like Texas, they use the term “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). They mean the same thing, so many people use them interchangeably. Because De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers serve clients in Nevada, we use the term DUI.
What Constitutes a DUI in Nevada?
According to NRS 484C.110, Nevada defines a DUI as operating a vehicle:
- Under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher within two hours of driving
If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, you could get charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.04. Underage drivers also have a lower limit, as they may face a DUI charge if their BAC is 0.02.
What Does Physical Control Have to Do With a DUI?
Nevada tries to do its part to prevent DUI accidents. That is, they don’t allow people to be in physical control of a vehicle if they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When your case goes before a judge or jury, they may consider the following factors to determine if you were actually in control of the car.
- If the car was running
- If you were conscious
- If the headlights were on
- If the car was on public or private property
- The position you were in when you were in the vehicle
Sometimes, defendants may use the “sleeping it off” strategy to protect themselves during legal proceedings. Drivers aren’t considered in control of the vehicle if they’re asleep, not in the driver’s seat, or if the car isn’t on.
What are the Penalties for a DUI in Nevada?
Your history of prior DUI convictions, as well as the severity of the alleged crime, will affect the penalties you face.
If you have your first DUI ever or first in seven years, NRS 484C.400 considers it a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could have to pay up to $1000 in fines, go to jail for up to six months or do up to 96 hours of community service, lose your license for 185 days, attend a Victim Impact Panel and install an ignition interlock device in your car.
Also noted in NRS 484C.400 are the penalties if you face for your second DUI charge ever or in seven years. Like a first offense, it’s a misdemeanor charge. The state could penalize you with fines up to $1000 and jail for six months, a one-year license suspension, an ignition interlock device in your car for three years, and attending a Victim Impact Panel.
Should this be your third DUI offense or third one in seven years, the state classifies it as a Category B felony, under NRS 484C.400. Penalties the state imposes for this offense include fines ranging from $2000 to $5000, one to six years in a Nevada state prison, a license suspension for up to three years, and an ignition interlock for up to three years.
If you have been convicted of a DUI felony and commit another DUI, NRS 484C.410 affirms that the state considers it a Category B felony. Fines can go up to $5000. You could serve up to 15 years in state prison. The DMV could suspend your license for up to three years.
If you allegedly committed a DUI resulting in another person’s injury or death, NRS 484C.430 classifies this offense as a Category B felony. You could have to pay fines up to $5000, go to prison for up to 20 years, and have your license suspended for up to three years.
In the event you have three other DUI convictions, committed another one, and have thereby caused another person’s death, you may face a vehicular homicide charge, per NRS 484C.440. The penalties may include 25 years to life in state prison. However, you could qualify for parole after serving for 10 years—no matter your sentencing.
Having children under the age of 15 in your car when you commit a DUI could invoke harsher penalties, as the state considers it an aggravating factor.
What if I Drive on a Revoked License?
If you drive on a suspended or revoked license, you may face serious penalties, like up to six months in jail, $1000 in fines, and an extension of your current license revocation period, according to NRS 483.560.
Consider taking public transportation or rideshare services or having friends or family members give you rides until you can apply for a new driver’s license.
What Are Common Defenses to a DUI Charge in Nevada?
Every Nevada DUI case differs, so the defense strategy a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at our firm creates for you depends on the circumstances of what happened. However, certain factors of these cases often overlap, so common defenses we use include:
- Faulty breathalyzer results: The officer could have failed to properly administer the test or the test was defective.
- No Miranda Rights read: In most cases, the police officer must read you your Miranda Rights at the time of your arrest. If they didn’t, your attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence gathered at the scene, potentially resulting in a dismissal of your case.
- Mistaken identity: It wasn’t you who was driving under the influence at the time of the arrest.
- Failure to maintain chain of custody: The blood test samples could have been contaminated on their way to the lab.
- Lack of reasonable suspicion: The police officer had no reason to pull you over. Reasonable suspicion may look like someone weaving in and out of traffic or overspeeding.
- Lack of probable cause: You were not impaired when the officer pulled you over, so they had no reason to arrest you.
Sometimes, your attorney can use a combination of these and other defenses when they prepare your case.
Can I Refuse a Sobriety or Chemical Test?
You are not required to take a field sobriety test, like a walk and turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus, or the one-leg stand, if the arresting officer requests them.
However, if they have you take a chemical test, like a breathalyzer, you must comply. As such, you have already consented to take one under the implied consent law NRS 484C.150. This law states that whenever you get behind the wheel, you automatically consent to take a blood, breathalyzer, or urine test to check your BAC level.
If you refuse to take this chemical test, you could face penalties and the police have the authority to force you to undergo a blood test at the nearest police station or hospital.
Can I Challenge My License Suspension?
Yes. Within seven days of getting a DUI, you can request the DMV to issue you a temporary license. During this time frame, you can also request a DUI hearing where you can challenge your license suspension. This hearing goes before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the Nevada Office of Administrative Hearings.
These civil hearings differ from criminal trials. Your or your attorney’s job is to establish that the DMV should not have revoked your license.
The ALJ may issue their ruling within 30 days of the hearing. Should you win the hearing, you may resume driving and apply for a duplicate license. However, you still have to go to trial for your criminal case.
How Will a Nevada DUI Conviction Affect My Life?
Getting convicted of a DUI may lead to more than just fines, jail time, and a license suspension. It could affect many aspects of your life. For example, you may have a hard time renting cars or apartments, getting into the school or university of your choice, securing the job you want, buying a car or house, having full custody of your children, or even voting.
Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer in Nevada
De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers has been representing Nevada residents and visitors charged with a DUI since 2005. We have worked to get their charges reduced or dropped so they can get their lives back. Check out some of our client testimonials to learn more about their stories.
We cannot promise a specific outcome for your case, but our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can strive for a favorable result. With that, we tailor our approach to your case based on its specific circumstances and your unique needs. Still, some of the ways we’ve assisted our clients overlap. The services our DUI defense lawyers may provide for you include:
- Speaking to the police during questioning on your behalf
- Analyzing and collecting evidence
- Trying to reduce your bail or release you from it
- Determining which laws apply to your case
- Cross-examining and examining witnesses
- Forming a defense strategy against your DUI charges
- Negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutors
- Striving to get your charges reduced or dropped
- Communicating with the courts, DMV, prosecution, or anyone else involved in your case
- Representing you throughout all civil and criminal proceedings
While we take care of your case, your job is to simply take care of yourself. You can be as involved in your case as you please. Our firm will always consult you and give you solid legal counsel before we move forward. Call De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers today to begin your pursuit of justice.