Nevada DUI Laws & Penalties

Driving under influence (DUI) is a serious offense anywhere around the United States and the state of Nevada is no exception. Whether you drive after having consumed alcohol, illegal drugs, or even over-the-counter prescription drugs that impair your driving abilities, you’ll get in trouble with the laws.

Many people unreasonably believe they can drive well while under influence, but the reality is that alcohol, drugs, and other substances significantly reduce driving abilities, which pose a great safety risk. DUI driving is one of the most common reasons leading to vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths on the roads. That’s why authorities penalize it before the occurrence of the tragic consequences. As a result, driving under influence in Nevada may lead to paying fines, spending some time in jail, and losing the driving license.

What is a Nevada DUI offense?

You commit a DUI offense in Nevada if you operate a vehicle while impaired by the use of alcohol, drugs, or other impairing substances. It is illegal to drive under influence any substance that could impair your driving abilities. The Nevada DUI laws set an impairment threshold depending on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The BAC limits are set at:
  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old.
  • 0.04% for commercial license drivers.
  • 0.08% for all other drivers.
If your breathalyzer test shows that your BAC is over these numbers, you are automatically guilty for a DUI offense and will be punished for it. However, if the test shows that your BAC is under these numbers, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are free to go. There are three laws that define how DUI is treated in Nevada: Illegal per se law. Nevada DUI laws follow the Illegal Per Se doctrine, which means that driving under influence is illegal by itself. The state doesn’t have to prove that you were really impaired. If you had some amount of substances in your blood, it is enough to get punished. Therefore, the BAC limits are only guides. They are not strict thresholds that police officers have to respect. It means that even if you get caught with 0.05% BAC, you may get in trouble with the laws. Implied consent law. By sitting down behind the wheel you imply that you agree to do a breathalyzer test when a police officer requests so. You have no other choice but to submit to be tested. The officer is allowed to use a reasonable force to make you do so. If you resist it, you’ll get arrested. Open container law. You mustn’t have any open container filled alcohol anywhere in your vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you are impaired or not. As long as the bottle or the keg sit open, you are guilty of DUI. This rule doesn’t apply only to living areas in motorhomes and RVs, or passengers’ areas in limousines and taxis.

What Are the Penalties for Nevada DUI offense?

DUI is a misdemeanor in Nevada. As in any other US state, penalties for the first, second, or the third DUI offense vary. The more consecutive DUIs within a seven-year period mean more severe penalties.

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Nevada First DUI Conviction

The first DUI conviction in Nevada is a misdemeanor and is punishable by time in jail, fines, suspension of driver’s license:

  • 2 days to 6 months in jail or 24 to 96 hours of community service. The judge will usually suspend the jail sentence for six months.
  • Fines from $400 to $1000 plus court costs.
  • Suspension of your driving license for 90 days plus a penalty fee of $35. You may get a restricted license after 45 days.
  • Attending Nevada DUI school and a Nevada Victim Impact Panel lecture.
  •  If your BAC level was 0.18% or greater, you’ll have to install a Nevada breath interlock device in your vehicle and use it for 12 to 36 months. If your BAC level was below 0.18%, the court may order using the device for 3 to 6 months.
  •  If you are 21 years old or younger and your BAC level was 0.18% or greater, you’ll have to be tested for drugs dependency and pay the costs of $100

Nevada Second DUI Conviction

If you’ve had two DUI offenses in Nevada in a period of seven years, your offense will be treated as a misdemeanor, but now the penalties will be harsher. You may get:

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail or residential confinement.
  • Fines ranging from $750 to $1000.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one year, five days registration suspension, and a penalty fee of $35.
  • An alcohol dependency test costing $100.
  • An alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, which may take several months.
  • Attending a Nevada Victim Impact Panel lectures.
  •  If your BAC was 0.18% or greater you’ll have to use a Nevada Breath Interlock Device for a period ranging from 12 to 36 months as a condition for a restricted license or reinstate your license. If the BAC was below 0.18%, that period will range from 3 to 6 months.

Nevada Third DUI Conviction

Your third DUI offense within a period of seven years will be treated as a Class B felony, hence the penalties are more severe. They include:

  • One to six years in Nevada prison.
  • Fines from $2000 to $5000
  • Driving license suspension or revocation for a period of three years, five days of registration suspension, and a penalty fee of $35
  • An alcohol and drug dependency evaluation test.
  • A Nevada Breath Interlock Device in your car for a period of 12 to 36 months after your release from prison.
  •  Attending the Nevada Victim Impact Panel.

DUI Offense with a Child in Vehicle

Having a child in your car while committing a DUI offense in Nevada is considered an aggravating factor. Even though the penalties range remains the same, judges will punish you harsher if this is the case. For example, if you’ve just done your first DUI misdemeanor, you can expect to get jail time from two days to six months or 24-96 hours in community service. Without a child in your car, you are likely to get by with community service only. But, if you have put a child’s life at risk by driving them while drunk, then the judge will tend to give you a harsher penalty, maybe even some jail time.

In addition, you’ll have to pay to attend an online DUI school, pay administrative costs of up to $1000, and will receive an order to avoid arrests.

DUI Causing Personal Injury or Death

If your DUI driving leads to an accident causing personal injuries and death, you’ll be charged for Class B felony. Possible prison time ranges from 2 to 20 years, while monetary fines are from $2000 to $5000.

If the fatality has been caused by a driver who has a history of at least three previous DUI convictions, they will be charged for vehicular homicide. It is a Class A felony leading to 25 years in prison to a life sentence.

SCRAM bracelets

SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. In some cases, judges impose DUI defendants wear SCRAM bracelet, which is basically a bracelet that monitors the blood alcohol levels to defendants as a condition for probation. They wear on ankles. The bracelet sends authorities information on alcohol in blood once every 30 minutes.

SCRAM is a way for some defendants to save themselves from going to jail while being monitored for use of alcohol. Defendants facing felony charges and having issues with alcohol addiction are most likely to be ordered to wear one.

Temporary and Restricted Driving License

Right after being arrested for DUI in Nevada, you can request a hearing in the next seven days. If you don’t do it, suspension of your license in inevitable. But, if you request a hearing, you’ll get it for sure. Until the decision of that hearing is made, the Nevada DMV will provide you with a temporary driving license. This process may take several months, which gives you a possibility to drive a vehicle while your DUI case is still pending.

Moreover, if you request taking a blood test, it may add several more months to the process. You’ll take the test, keep your license, and wait for several weeks or even months for the police to get your results back. Then you’ll get the seven-day period to request a hearing and if you do so, you’ll have a few more months to drive with a temporary license.

Getting a restricted license, on the other hand, requires being convicted for DUI. When you have your driving license suspended, in 45 days you can petition for a restricted license. A restricted license will allow you to drive a motor vehicle for the rest of the license suspension period, but only to drive yourself to certain places such as work, to school or college, to the doctor, or to the DUI school. Paperwork and bureaucracy may take some time, therefore it is best to file the petition in 30 days of the suspension. In case of violation, you’ll face 30 days to 6 months in jail or 60 days to 6 months in house arrest. In addition, you’ll pay $500 to $1000 in fines.