DUI in Nevada

What is a DUI in Nevada?

In Nevada, DUI or Driving Under the Influence refers to the crime of driving while mentally impaired or under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prohibited substances. A DUI is a severe offense in Nevada, and like most jurisdictions in the United States, Nevada has strict DUI laws, including clearly defined blood alcohol content limits. Any motorist whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit violates state traffic laws.

Nevada courts and law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing DUI laws in the state. DUI offenses result in criminal and administrative penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and a loss of driving privileges. When an offender is convicted of a DUI, records of their offense are included in their Nevada criminal record which inadvertently impacts their lives and access to selected social benefits.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Nevada?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are closely related terms. In many cases, both terms are used interchangeably. They refer to the offense of driving while inebriated or while the motorist’s ability is impaired by using alcohol, drugs, or other substances.

Nevada state laws do not differentiate DWI from DUI as the legal term used in Nevada is DUI. In determining whether a motorist is under the influence of alcohol, law enforcement agents may conduct field sobriety tests. Officers may also collect blood and urine samples to measure the alcohol content in a person’s system.

Nevada DUI Laws

It is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle if the person’s ability to operate or physically operate a vehicle safely is impaired. NRS 484C.110 offers insight into Nevada’s DUI laws, including specifications about prohibited acts and substances. According to state statutes, a motorist may be guilty of a DUI if the following is true:

  • The motorist is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, with a BAC of 0.08% or more, and operating a vehicle on public highways or areas with public access in the state. The measurement may be taken within two (2) hours of the person operating or controlling a vehicle.
  • The motorist is under the influence of a controlled substance or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance while operating a vehicle on public highways or publicly accessible areas in the state. This also applies if the motorist ingests, inhales, or uses any chemical, compound, poison, organic solvent, or combination of substances.
  • The motorist has a BAC of 0.10% and operates a vehicle in a pedestrian safety zone or committed work zone. This also applies if the motorist is under the influence of a controlled substance or a combination of alcohol and controlled substances.
  • The motorist has a BAC of at least 0.40% but less than 0.10% and operates a commercial vehicle.

DUI Penalties in Nevada

Like many states in the US, Nevada has strict DUI laws. In determining the penalty for a DUI offense, the court considers the offender’s criminal history, the severity of the offense, and the presence of aggravating factors. Penalties for first DUI offenses are less strict than those for repeated offenses. While first and second DUI offenses are misdemeanor offenses in Nevada, a third DUI is a category B felony. As laid out in NRS 484C.430, DUI penalties include:

  • Fines of between $400 and $5,000, depending on the offender’s criminal history.
  • Imprisonment for a minimum of two (2) days. The longest prison term is life imprisonment.
  • Ignition interlock device installation
  • License revocation or suspension
  • Participation in victim compensation panels
  • Participation in treatment programs

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Nevada?

A DWI is no different from a DUI in Nevada. The state employs DUI as the legal term for driving while intoxicated or under the control of drugs or any prohibited substance. As evidenced by the penalties listed in NRS 484C.430 and other parts of the state statutes, Nevada’s DUI laws are stringent. Offenders can expect to face steep fines, forfeiture, and even jail terms. Interested parties may retain attorneys to provide legal advice or representation in DUI cases.

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in Nevada?

A first DUI offense is a misdemeanor in Nevada. It is punishable by imprisonment for no less than two (2) days and no more than six (6) months. Alternatively, a first-time DUI offender may perform 48 to 96 hours of community service dressed in a uniform that identifies the offender as a DUI offender. Nevada also penalizes first DUI offenses with fines of at least $400 and at most $1,000.

First-time DUI offenders must take approved alcohol education or substance abuse disorder courses solely at the offender’s expense. Such persons must complete the course within specified periods.

The DMV revokes the licenses of first-time DUI offenders for at least 185 days. Offenders must also install ignition interlock devices for the same period. However, if an offender’s BAC is greater than 0.18%, the ignition interlock device must be installed for one (1) to three (3) years.

If the DUI causes serious bodily harm or death to another person, it is a category B felony. The minimum jail term for this offense is two (2) years, and the maximum is 20 years. Fines of $2,000 to $5,000 also apply. It is a defense if the offender consumed alcohol after driving or controlling a vehicle, even if the offender’s BAC at the point of arrest is 0.08%. However, the offender must prove this defense and notify the prosecuting attorney of the intent to offer this defense at a trial at least 14 days before the trial (NRS 484C.430).

A DUI vehicular homicide is a category A felony, punishable by imprisonment for life or a definite term of 25 years. Offenders are only eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence of ten (10) years.

What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in Nevada?

A second DUI offense within seven (7) years is a misdemeanor in Nevada, and it may result in imprisonment or residential confinement for no less than ten (10) days and no more than six (6) months (NRS 484C.400). The offender may also be required to pay fines between $750 and $1000. In lieu of fines, the court may order the offender to perform community service for an equivalent number of hours.

While performing the community service, the offender must be dressed in a uniform that identifies them as a DUI offender. Second-time DUI offenders must complete treatment programs for alcohol and substance use disorder. Refusal or willful failure to complete the treatment program is a misdemeanor and is penalized as such. The sentence may run consecutively with the DUI sentence.

Second-time DUI offenders with a BAC of less than 0.18% must install ignition interlock devices on their cars for 185 days. If the offender’s BAC is greater than 0.18%, the ignition interlock device must be installed for one (1) to three (3) years. Nevada DMV revokes licenses of second-time DUI offenders for up to one (1) year.

What Happens After a Third DUI in Nevada?

A third DUI offense within seven (7) years in Nevada would be a category B felony in Nevada, even if the DUI did not lead to any injury or accident. A third DUI is punishable by imprisonment in a minimum-security facility for at least one (1) year and at most six (6) years. Third-time DUI offenders are also subject to fines between $2,000 and $5,000 (NRS 484C.400). Third-time DUI offenders must attend Victim Impact Panels and undergo alcohol or drug dependency evaluation.

Offenders may also have to undergo rehabilitation. The DMV revokes offenders’ licenses for up to three (3) years. However, offenders may qualify for restricted licenses after one year. Offenders must pay reinstatement fees and complete necessary driving tests to obtain a new license. The offending motorist must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a minimum of one (1) year and a maximum of two (3) years. Offenders may also be required to pay for SR-22 for up to three (3) years.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Nevada?

DUI convictions stay on an offender’s record for at least seven (7) years. If the court reduces a DUI charge to reckless driving, the offense stays on the offender’s record for one (1) year. Non-conviction records stay on the offender’s record until the offender petitions the court to have the records sealed; there is no mandatory waiting period for non-conviction offenses.

In addition to DUI records, offenders in Nevada also face point system penalties. Accumulated points stay on an offender’s record for up to 12 months. The DMV may delete the points after 12 months, but the conviction remains on the offender’s record. Generally, DUI convictions stay on an offender’s record until the offender petitions the court to seal the records.

Nevada driving records are protected by state laws and the National Driver’s Privacy Protection Act; therefore, only authorized persons may access driving records. Authorized persons include law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and other parties with a notarized release from the subject of the record.

DUI Expungement in Nevada

Nevada laws do not provide for record expungement; however, interested parties may request the sealing of DUI records. When the court seals a record, the record is removed from record systems, and the record can no longer be distributed or transferred. The public cannot access sealed records. Only authorized parties can.

Persons authorized to access sealed records include subjects of the record, employees of the record repository, law enforcement agencies, and persons authorized with court orders. Although sealing a DUI record does not destroy the record, it prevents the records from showing up in background checks. Most misdemeanor records in Nevada are eligible for sealing after one (1) year; however, DUI records are not. DUI records may only be sealed after seven (7) years.

Sealing procedures vary from one Nevada county to another. To submit a sealing petition, interested parties may contact the court in the county or jurisdiction where law enforcement agents arrested the person. Generally, interested parties must request personal criminal history from the county or state police department to get a record sealed. The requesting party must then file a petition along with fingerprints and certified copies of an order to seal, to the District Attorney’s office.

When a record is sealed, the subject of the record is legally allowed to deny the record under oath. It is not possible to seal records of felony DUI offenses in Nevada, including third-time DUI offenses in seven (7) years, vehicular homicide, drugged driving, and DUI causing death or injury. If a DUI case involves a juvenile, the court automatically seals the record when the offender turns 21, provided that the offender was not adjudicated juvenile for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Nevada?

Jail time is possible after a first DUI in Nevada, but it is not likely. The standard jail sentence for a first DUI offense is two (2) days to six (6) months, but this does not always apply. At its discretion, the court may allow first-time offenders to do community service instead of jail time and reduce eligible DUI charges.

What is the Average Cost of DUI in Nevada?

A DUI in Nevada can cost the offender between $15,000 to $20,000 or even more, depending on the severity of the offense. DUI offenses are expensive and can put offenders in financial distress, especially when time and income loss are possible. For starters, DUI offenders in Nevada must pay fines. For first-time DUI offenders, fines range between $400 and $1,000.

Subsequent offenses result in higher fines, up to $5,000. Apart from fines, offenders must also pay other court fees which cover the court’s administrative expenses incurred during the case, including filing fees, subpoena fees, court reporter fees, and copying fees. In Nevada, court fees may cost between $500 to $1,000. The cost of getting legal representation depends on the severity of the offense. DUI lawyers in Nevada charge between $1,500 and $10,000.

DUI offenders in Nevada can also expect an increase in auto insurance premiums, which can go up to 80%. If an offender’s license is suspended or revoked, the offender will need to pay reinstatement fees, costing up to $250. DUI school or treatment programs cost up to $10,000. Offenders may also be required to install ignition interlock devices. Installation and maintenance are solely at the offender’s expense, and they can cost up to $325 or more. Other costs to consider include:

  • Bail
  • Towing and impounding
  • Sentencing fees
  • Probation fees
  • Victim panel attendance

How Much is Bail for a DUI in Nevada?

DUIs often lead to arrests. When law enforcement agents arrest a person for drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol, the person may spend some time in detention. Some offenders are released after eight (8) hours, some the next day, and others are detained for longer. In many cases, first DUI offenders may not require bail. However, since Driving Under the Influence is a misdemeanor, bail for first DUI offenses costs about $2,000 and second DUI offenses cost about $5,000. For DUI offenses that involve injury or bodily harm to other persons, there is no set bail. The court decides bail amounts for these offenses at court appearances.

How to Get My License Back After a DUI in Nevada?

Driver’s license suspensions and revocations are administrative penalties that the Nevada DMV assesses against drunk drivers and persons who violate the state’s traffic code. When a motorist’s license is suspended, the motorist cannot drive for the suspension period; however, the DMV will reinstate the motorist’s license when the period is over. Persons whose licenses are revoked, on the other hand, will have to submit to an investigation before obtaining another license. A revoked license cannot be returned or reinstated.

The DMV may suspend the licenses of motorists who:

  • Drive under the influence of alcohol
  • Do not have the psychological fitness required to drive
  • Accumulate excessive points from traffic violations

When the designated suspension or revocation period is over, the DMV sends a written notice of restoration to the offender. This notice typically contains information on how to restore driver’s licenses in Nevada. Required steps to restore a driver’s license may include driving skills tests, written tests, and vision tests. Motorists whose licenses are revoked due to a DUI or a related offense may install Ignition Interlock devices on any vehicle they operate to reinstate their licenses. Such persons must present a certificate of compliance to the DMV, show financial responsibility by purchasing SR-22 insurance, and may also be required to pay reinstatement fees.

How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in Nevada?

A DUI conviction places strict limitations on the offender and causes great financial distress. Court costs, fines, and attorney costs are some of the big financial factors. Depending on the nature of the offense or the presence of aggravating factors, a DUI conviction may also result in jail time.

Some employers conduct background checks, and a DUI conviction may deter such employers from offering employment opportunities. This may also apply to certain educational institutions, as some may not enroll persons with DUI records. A DUI conviction may result in a loss of driving privileges. It may also complicate divorce cases and impact the court’s child custody decisions.

Can You Get Fired for a DUI in Nevada?

Yes, it is possible to get fired for a DUI in Nevada. In an at-will employment state like Nevada, employers can dismiss employees at will for any reason, except those that violate the state employment policy, including discrimination, retaliation, or contract breach. Even if the motorist was not operating a company car at the time of the arrest or on company time, employers could still fire a person convicted of a DUI. If the DUI impairs the offender’s ability to perform at their job, the person may be at greater risk of getting fired.

Additionally, a DUI may result in a suspension or license revocation for professions that work with licensing, including healthcare and teaching. Generally, whether a person gets fired for a DUI depends on the nature of the person’s job, the company or employer’s policy, and the nature of the offense. The risk of dismissal in some fields, such as those with no licensing requirements, may be lower than in others.

How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Nevada?

In Nevada, DUI checkpoints or roadblocks are legal, and law enforcement agents typically erect them on roadways with high traffic volume during holidays. This is because heavy drinking and traffic violations are expected during holidays. For DUI checkpoints to remain legal in Nevada, law enforcement must follow the set rules in NRS 484B.570. For example, law enforcement officers must check all cars that pass through the roadblocks to avoid discrimination.

State laws also mandate law enforcement agents to have visible signs, including illuminated “police stop” signs visible from a quarter-mile off. The roadblock itself must be visible from no less than 100 yards in either direction. Motorists can expect law enforcement agents to ask routine questions such as registration and license details. Law enforcement agents will also evaluate motorists for any signs of drunk driving, including slurred speech.

If the officers have reason to believe a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officers may conduct field sobriety or breath tests to determine the motorists’ BAC. The blood alcohol limit in Nevada is 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.08% for non-commercial drivers. State laws mandate motorists to stop at DUI checkpoints; failure to stop is punishable under NRS 484B.580 with fines and imprisonment. Law enforcement agencies often announce DUI checkpoints in advance in Nevada.

Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?

DUIs are similar to DWIs. They are both offenses that involve the operation of vehicles under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and other controlling substances. Where these offenses are considered separate, DWIs are considered the worst of the two offenses. This is because the factors that contribute to a DWI, such as blood alcohol level, are slightly higher than those of DUIs. In Nevada, there are no legal differences between DUIs and DWIs; Nevada adopts the DUI term for drunk driving and other offenses that involve road usage and substance use.

A Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater constitutes a DUI in Nevada. Arrested persons must submit to testing; a failure to submit may result in additional penalties. Convicted persons are penalized by fines, imprisonment, forfeiture, and other administrative measures. For commercial drivers, the BAC threshold is 0.04%. However, it is important to note that Nevada law enforcement agents can arrest motorists that have lower BAC levels when there is reason to believe that such persons operated a vehicle under the influence of prohibited or controlled substances. A DUI stays on the driver’s record for up to seven (7) years in Nevada.