The Nevada DUI Guide

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I just got arrested for a DUI charge in Nevada.  What happens now?


ISSUE ONE:  The Nevada Implied Consent Proceeding:  The most pressing matter may be requesting an appeal / hearing of your implied consent suspension.  Your Nevada drivers license (or your right to drive in Nevada if you're not a Nevada licensed driver) was most likely suspended for anywhere from 90 days to several years for failing (.08 BAC or higher) or refusing a breath test.  Read your paperwork carefully.  You have only a short time (generally seven days) to request a hearing to challenge the implied consent suspension.



ISSUE TWO:  The Nevada Criminal Case:  Separate from the implied consent suspension is the criminal charge.  You were probably arrested / cited for one form of driving under the influence (DUI). 


Under Nevada law, it is unlawful for any person who (a) is under the influence of intoxicating liquor; or (b) has a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his 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 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. 


It is also unlawful for any person who (a) is under the influence of a controlled substance; or (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 him 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.


Important:  The implied consent proceeding and the criminal case are completely separate from one another. 


Will my Nevada drivers license be revoked / suspended?


RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Nevada driver license (or your right to drive in Nevada if you do not have a valid Nevada license) may be suspended for failing a breath or blood test or for refusing a breath, or blood test.  If you act quickly (typically within seven days of your arrest), you can request an appeal of the proposed implied consent suspension by the DMV for failing or refusing the test.  A hearing will then be scheduled on your appeal request. 



RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of the DUI charge, you will also generally lose your license (or your right to drive in Nevada if you don't have a valid Nevada license).  This suspension is separate and distinct from the implied consent suspension.  Talk to your Nevada DUI lawyer for possible suspension lengths for your situation.



Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of other reasons unrelated to your DUI offense.


What happens if I get caught driving while my license is suspended / revoked?


Driving while your license is suspended or revoked should be avoided as it is a new crime.  Penalties included a substantial fine and at least 30 days jail. 


I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a restricted / occupational / conditional / probationary permit?


A restricted license may be available to you if your license is suspended and you had a valid Nevada Driver License at the time of your suspension.  The restricted license typically allows you to drive to and from work and on the job.  Speak to your Nevada DUI lawyer about whether you qualify and how to apply for this restricted license.  The State of Nevada does not issue restricted CDL permits.  There is a waiting period required before you can become eligible for a restricted license.



What is the difference between a DUI, DWI, OWI, DWAI, OUI, OUIL, DWUI etc.?


These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have different names for the crime.  For example, in New Mexico the charge is known as DWI (driving while intoxicated).  Like California, Arizona and most states, Nevada law uses the term "driving under the influence" or DUI. 


Is a DUI in Nevada a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In Nevada, a DUI charge is a usually a misdemeanor crime.  However, a third or greater DUI offense in the past seven years is a felony offense under Nevada law.  Also, if you've previously been convicted of a felony DUI, subsequent DUI charges are considered felonies under Nevada law.


What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of a Nevada DUI charge?


A first time DUI in Nevada is usually a misdemeanor crime.  Upon conviction, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including alcohol screening / treatment / education.  A range of minimum penalties is set forth below: 



first offense /
no prior DUI's within past 7+ years
  • probation;
  • two days jail (or 48 - 96 hours of community service;
  • $400+ in fines and fees;
  • Alcohol classes at a Nevada DUI school;
  • Attendance at a Victim's Impact Panel class;
  • 90 days license suspension.
second offense within past seven years
  • probation;
  • 10+ days jail;
  • $750+ in fines and fees;
  • Alcohol classes at a Nevada DUI school;
  • Attendance at a Victim's Impact Panel class;
  • one year license suspension.
third offense within past seven years
  • a prison sentence of one to six years
  • $2000+ in fines and fees;
  • three year license suspension.
with a prior felony DUI conviction
  • at least a two year prison term;
  • $2000+ in fines and fees.

Will my lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Nevada DUI charge down to an offense other than an Nevada DUI?

Possibly.  Plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced Nevada DUI lawyer would discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf. 

Will an Nevada DUI go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  A DUI conviction will go on your Nevada driving record and will stay on your record forever.  The Nevada DMV will report a DUI conviction to your insurance company for three years.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in Nevada?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your DUI history (including any DUI's outside of Nevada);

•  your level of intoxication / BAC;

•  whether there was an collision involved;

•  whether there was an injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Nevada county or court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / child in your car;

•  whether the judge feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than Nevada and I was cited for a DUI in Nevada.  Will my driver license be suspended?

Nevada only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Nevada.  However, Nevada and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  Nevada will report an Nevada DUI conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact).  Your home state will then generally take action to suspend your license.

This also works in reverse.  If you are a Nevada licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI charge in another state, Nevada will likely suspend your license if it learns of the conviction. 

Will I have to install an Ignition / Breath Interlock Device on my car?


An ignition / breath interlock device is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device, the motor vehicle will not start.


You will likely have to install an ignition interlock device in your car if you are convicted of a second or greater DUI offense in the State of Nevada. Talk to your lawyer about whether this requirement applies to your situation.

What will a Nevada DUI charge do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about a Nevada DUI one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your Nevada insurer will raise your rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed.  Your insurance company will absolutely learn of your DUI if you have to file an SR-22.

What is an SR-22 / Proof of Financial Responsibility?

An SR-22 is a form from an Nevada licensed insurance company certifying that you have purchased liability insurance that meets the minimum required coverage limits.  The SR-22 provides proof to the Nevada DMV that you are insured.  If you cancel your insurance or the insurance company cancels your policy before your suspension period is over, the company must notify DMV that the certificate is canceled.  The SR-22 requirement must be maintained for three years from the date you're eligible for reinstatement.

Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an Nevada DUI?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Nevada DUI convictions and certain administrative (implied consent) driver license suspensions.  Learn more here.

I missed my Nevada court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things follow.  At a minimum, the Nevada court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (known as a bench warrant).  Talk to an attorney as soon as possible.  Often, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

If you live outside of Nevada and you're facing a misdemeanor DUI charge, you may be able to have a lawyer appear in your place for most court appearances assuming that you hire an attorney ahead of time.  This can be especially helpful if you're an out of state resident that received a DUI in Nevada.

What happens if I was on probation when I got arrested for my Nevada DUI offense?

Committing a new offense while you're on probation for a previous crime creates two problems.  First, you face the new Nevada DUI charge.  Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of probation).  The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Nevada DUI charge when you're already on probation for a previous DUI conviction.  When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Nevada DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

I'm not a United States citizen.  Will a Nevada DUI conviction result in my removal from this country?

Probably not.  Typical, run of the mill Nevada DUI offenses (no prior offenses) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal.  It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Nevada criminal defense lawyer about your pending NV DUI charge. 

Keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms.  Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any Nevada DUI conviction.  Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

Can I represent myself in court on my Nevada DUI and / or other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have a constitutional right to represent yourself on any Nevada criminal charge no matter how serious including an Nevada DUI charge.  Keep in mind that Nevada DUI defense is a complex area of the law as shown by the information in this website.  If you cannot afford to hire your own attorney, you definitely should apply for court appointed counsel to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding.

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Websites, including this one, provide general Nevada DUI information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Nevada DUI lawyers for advice about any specific problem or Nevada DUI charge that you have.  Nevada attorneys are governed by the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.


Nevada DUI lawyers provide drunk driving (DUI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of:  Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Paradise, Boulder City, Reno, Fallon, Carson City, Laughlin, Spring Valley, Sunrise Manor, Winchester, Sparks, Clark County, and Washoe County.  Nevada attorneys may accept Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard credit cards. 


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