Nebraska DUI Laws & Penalties

Like all other US states and the District of Columbia, the state of Nebraska doesn’t allow driving under influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Vehicle accidents often cause injuries and death, so the Nebraska government wants to prevent that before even happening.

Nebraska DUI laws penalize drivers who take control over the wheel after few drinks or taking some drugs. You know that you should never do that because it impairs your driving abilities and puts your and other people’s lives in danger. If you did it, however, here are the most important things about what awaits you in near future.

What is a Nebraska DUI Offense?

To understand better how DUI is defined in Nebraska and how the state punishes it, first, you need to get an understanding of several DUI laws.

These laws are the following:

Per Se law. Nebraska legislators have accepted the “per se” doctrine, according to which the driver is guilty of a DUI offense as long as the concentration of alcohol in their blood (BAC) is above a certain limit. It is not necessary to be truly drunk. Different people react differently to alcohol, but if you meet the threshold set by the law, you are considered to be driving under influence and will have to take legal responsibility.
The thresholds are set as follows:
  • 0.02% for drivers under 20 of age
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers
  • 0.08% for all other drivers
  • 0.15% is an excessive BAC and leads to harsher penalties

Implied consent law. If you operate a vehicle, it means that you agree to have your BAC tested upon request of a police officer. The law doesn’t allow you to refuse the test. If you do so, you’ll get a penalty anyway. Some drivers refuse to test thinking that they will avoid penalties or at least will get milder penalties, but that’s not true. Refuse the BAC test and you’ll be punished harsher than what you could get if tested positive.

 Open container law. Don’t hold an open container filled with alcohol in your car while driving. If a police officer pulls you over and sees your open bottle, glass, or another container with alcohol beverage, he or she will charge you with DUI even if your BAC test shows BAC lower than the threshold.


What Are the Penalties for a Nebraska DUI Offense?

Like any other US state, the State of Nebraska treats DUI offenses differently depending on how many times the offender has committed a DUI before. The first four offenses within a 15-year period are misdemeanors. The more offenses you’ve done in the past, the harsher punishments you’ll face. If the penalties from the first four offenses didn’t fix your driving behavior, the fifth offense will be considered a felony and will bring very heavy punishments.

The “washout” period in Nebraska is 15 years, which means that your DUI offenses are subsequent if committed within a 15-year period. If your first DUI has happened in 2007 and the second one in 2018, the second one will be treated as a subsequent offense because the washout period after the first DUI doesn’t expire before 2022. If you committed your second DUI in 2023, which is 16 years after the first one, it would have been treated as your first DUI due to the expiry of the washout period.

Depending on your DUI history in Nebraska, committing such an offense there puts you in risk of the following penalties: 

First Nebraska DUI Offense

Your first DUI offense in Nebraska means that you will be punished as follows:

  • 7 to 60 days in jail.
  • $400-$500 in fines.
  • License suspension of 6 months or one year if the BAC is 0.15% or more.
  • Alcohol assessment and Nebraska DUI classes.

It is possible to get a restricted driving license after 15 days of the suspension. An ignition interlock device and a Nebraska SR22 insurance policy will be required.

first time dui in nebraska penalties

Second Nebraska DUI Offense

The second Nebraska DUI offense within a 15-year period is a misdemeanor and brings slightly harsher penalties compared to the first DUI. They include:

  • 30 to 90 days in jail.
  • A fine of $500 to $1000.
  • Driving license suspension of at least 18 months or up to 15 years if your BAC is 0.15% or greater.
  •  Alcohol assessment and DUI classes.
  •  If allowed on probation, a minimum of 10 days in jail and 240 hours of community service. If the BAC was 0.15% or greater, the minimum jail time is 15 days.

When the BAC is 0.15% or greater, the driving license can be reinstated after one year of suspension, but the offender will be required to use an ignition interlock device and get a Nebraska SR22 insurance policy.

Third Nebraska DUI Offense

The third DUI offense in Nebraska within 15 years of the first one will get you punished as follows:

  • 90 days to one year in jail. Up to $3,500 in jail fees, fines, and supervision expenses, not including extra costs mentioned earlier.
  •  $600 in fines.
  • Driving license suspension of 15 years.
  • Alcohol assessment and DUI classes.
  • If allowed on probation, a minimum of 30 days in jail and 2 to 15 years of license suspension.

The third-time offender cannot get a restricted driving license before serving 2 years of suspension or 5 years if the BAC is 0.15% or greater. An ignition interlock device and a Nebraska SR22 insurance policy will be required.

Fourth Nebraska DUI Offense

The fourth Nebraska DUI offense is still a misdemeanor, but the penalties are harsher. It puts you in risk of the following penalties:

  • 180 days to 5 years in jail, but if the BAC is 0.15% or greater the jail time is between 1 year and 20 years.
  • A fine between $1000 and $10,000.
  • Driving license suspension of 15 years.
  • Alcohol assessment and DUI classes.
  • If allowed on probation, the minimum punishment will be 180 days in jail, $1000 in fines, and 15 years of license suspension.
  • Vehicle immobilization between 5 days and 8 months on offender’s expense.
  • Nebraska SR22 insurance policy for reinstatement of the license.

Fifth Nebraska DUI Offense

The fifth Nebraska DUI offense is a felony. It carries the exposure to the following penalties:

  •  Jail time of 1 to 20 years.
  • Fines of up to $25,000.
  • Driving license suspension of at least 15 years.
  • Alcohol assessment and DUI classes.
  • Vehicle immobilization.
  • If allowed on probation, at least 180 days in jail, $1000 in fines, and 15 years of driving license suspension.
  • Nebraska SR22 insurance policy for reinstatement of the license.

DUI penalties for Refusal of Chemical Test

You should know that refusing to submit to a chemical test in Nebraska won’t save you from penalties. The implied consent law obliges you to do the test when a police officer requests so from you, so after their request, there are two possible scenarios: you either submit to a test and the result decides whether you will be punished or not, or you refuse the test and get punished anyway. In addition to the penalties as if you did the test and had a high enough BAC, your driving license will be suspended as follows:

  • For a first-time DUI offense, the suspension period is 180 days, or 60 days if allowed on probation.
  • For a second-time DUI offense, the suspension period is 18 months to 15 years.
  • For a third-time DUI offense, the suspension period is 15 years.

Nebraska DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers operate vehicles professionally, therefore they have a greater responsibility when it comes to driving under influence of drugs and alcohol. That’s why the BAC threshold for them is set lower, at 0.04%, and the penalties are harsher.

The first DUI offense as a commercial driver, in addition to the other penalties, brings a driving license suspension of one year. Driving hazardous materials during your first DUI will cause a suspension of at least 3 years. If you repeat the offense within a 15-year period, you will lose the right to operate a commercial vehicle again.

Nebraska DUI Penalties for Drivers Under 20 Years of Age

Drivers under 20 years of age are allowed to have a BAC of only 0.02%. Having a BAC over this threshold, no matter if they are really drunk or not, will have their driving license suspended for 30 days. For the second offense, the DMV will decide for how long the suspension is going to last.

However, if the BAC of the young driver is 0.08% or higher, these rules do not apply. Instead, they will be treated as if they were older drivers, which bring more severe penalties.

How to Reinstate Your Nebraska Driving License

After the expiry of your driving license suspension period, you need to reinstate your license back. You can reinstate it only if you:

  • Complete the necessary alcohol assessment and education programs imposed by the court.
  • Pay the reinstatement fee of $125
  • Prove that you have a Nebraska SR22 insurance policy, if applicable.
  • Pass the applicable driver’s tests, if applicable.
  • Prove that you have satisfied any other requirements by the court, if applicable.

If you meet these requirements, you’ll have your driving license back.

Additional Nebraska resources you may need: