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Nevada Drinking and Driving Law

In Nevada, the penalty for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is severe, more severe than most people realize. Most drivers believe that in order to be convicted of the offense of DUI (some states refer to the offense as DWI, or Driving While Impaired) it is necessary to actually be impaired, or intoxicated.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While a conviction for DUI could arise out of bad driving, which most people would interpret as “drunk driving,” the more common way of being convicted to have either your breath or your blood test above the illegal “per se” concentration of 0.08 BAC, or Blood Alcohol Concentration. Further, it is not necessary for the prosecutor to show that your blood contained that level of alcohol when you were actually driving or operating a motor vehicle, but only that you tested above the limit within 2 hours after you drove a vehicle.

In fact, you can be convicted of a DUI even if you were not driving or preparing to drive a vehicle, so long as you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Picture this: It is a cold night, and you have had more to drink than you intended. As you sit behind the steering wheel, you realize that you shouldn’t be driving. So, being the responsible person you are, you use your cellular phone and call for a friend or relative to come to pick you up in the bar parking lot, where you will be waiting for them in your car. As you shiver in the cold, you decide to turn on the ignition and the heater while you wait. Even though you have no intention of driving at all, you may still be convicted of the offense, and will have to pay all the penalties, including jail time or community service, that you would if you tried to drive home.

The first conviction of a Driving Under the Influence Offense results in the imposition of a mandatory jail sentence, or mandatory community service, without the possibility of probation, even if this is the driver’s first offense ever. Further, there are mandatory fines and assessments tacked on,

together with the mandatory drinking and driving educational course, and attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) sponsored Victim Impact Panel. Sentencing judges feel constrained to imposed lengthy underlying jail sentences (up to 180 days) which are then suspended, just to enforce any conditions they may wish to impose on the driver. Why? The crime of Driving Under the Influence is something akin to a political prosecution. Since Judges are elected to the bench in Nevada, it is virtually political suicide to be soft on offenders, so judges vie with each other to be stern in their application of DUI penalties.

In addition to the criminal penalties arising out of a conviction, there are other, equally serious consequences of a DUI conviction, including the mandatory loss of driver’s license, and greatly increased rates of insurance premiums. Unlike the vast majority of misdemeanor offenses, a DUI conviction will remain on a driver’s record for at least 7 years following his release from jail or from a suspended sentence before it can be sealed by the court. If it is not sealed, the conviction will remain on a driver’s record indefinitely, visible for all the world to see.

Selected Nevada Statutes regarding DUI

NRS 484.379 Driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or controlled or prohibited substance: Unlawful acts; affirmative defense; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone. [Effective until the date of the repeal of the federal law requiring each state to make it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater as a condition to receiving federal funding for the construction of highways in this state.]

1. It is unlawful for any person who:

(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
(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.

2. It is unlawful for any person who:

(a) Is under the influence of a controlled substance;
(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. The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection is or has been entitled to use that drug under the laws of this state is not a defense against any charge of violating this subsection.

3. It is unlawful for any person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access with an amount of a prohibited substance in his blood or urine that is equal to or greater than:

Prohibited substance
Nanograms
Urine
(Nanograms) per milliliter
Blood
(Nanograms) per milliliter
(a) Amphetamine 500 100
(b) Cocaine 150 50
(c) Cocaine metabolite 150 50
(d) Heroin 2,000 50
(e) Heroin metabolite:
(1) Morphine 2,000 50
(2) 6-monoacetyl morphine 10 10
(f) Lysergic acid diethylamide 25 10
(g) Marijuana 10 2
(h) Marijuana metabolite 15 5
(i) Methamphetamine 500 100
(j) Phencyclidine 25 10


4. If consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it is an affirmative defense under paragraph (c) of subsection 1 that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his blood or breath was tested, to cause him to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his blood or breath. A defendant who intends to offer this defense at a trial or preliminary hearing must, not less than 14 days before the trial or hearing or at such other time as the court may direct, file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of that intent.

5. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to the additional penalty set forth in NRS 484.3667.

NRS 484.3792 Driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or controlled or prohibited substance: Penalties; segregation of offender; probation, suspension of sentence and plea bargaining restricted; intermittent confinement; consecutive sentences.

1. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 484.3795, a person who violates the provisions of NRS 484.379:

(a) For the first offense within 7 years, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Unless he is allowed to undergo treatment as provided in NRS 484.37937, the court shall:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (4) or subsection 6, order him to pay tuition for an educational course on the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances approved by the Department and complete the course within the time specified in the order, and the court shall notify the Department if he fails to complete the course within the specified time;

(2) Unless the sentence is reduced pursuant to NRS 484.37937, sentence him to imprisonment for not less than 2 days nor more than 6 months in jail, or to perform not less than 48 hours, but not more than 96 hours, of community service while dressed in distinctive garb that identifies him as having violated the provisions of NRS 484.379;

(3) Fine him not less than $400 nor more than $1,000; and

(4) If he is found to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.18 or more in his blood or breath, order him to attend a program of treatment for the abuse of alcohol or drugs pursuant to the provisions of NRS 484.37945.

(b) For a second offense within 7 years, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Unless the sentence is reduced pursuant to NRS 484.3794, the court shall:

(1) Sentence him to:

(I) Imprisonment for not less than 10 days nor more than 6 months in jail; or

(II) Residential confinement for not less than 10 days nor more than 6 months, in the manner provided in NRS 4.376 to 4.3766, inclusive, or 5.0755 to 5.078, inclusive;

(2) Fine him not less than $750 nor more than $1,000, or order him to perform an equivalent number of hours of community service while dressed in distinctive garb that identifies him as having violated the provisions of NRS 484.379; and

(3) Order him to attend a program of treatment for the abuse of alcohol or drugs pursuant to the provisions of NRS 484.37945.

ÊA person who willfully fails or refuses to complete successfully a term of residential confinement or a program of treatment ordered pursuant to this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) For a third or subsequent offense within 7 years, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and shall be further punished by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000. An offender so imprisoned must, insofar as practicable, be segregated from offenders whose crimes were violent and, insofar as practicable, be assigned to an institution or facility of minimum security.

2. An offense that occurred within 7 years immediately preceding the date of the principal offense or after the principal offense constitutes a prior offense for the purposes of this section when evidenced by a conviction, without regard to the sequence of the offenses and convictions. The facts concerning a prior offense must be alleged in the complaint, indictment or information, must not be read to the jury or proved at trial but must be proved at the time of sentencing and, if the principal offense is alleged to be a felony, must also be shown at the preliminary examination or presented to the grand jury.

3. A person convicted of violating the provisions of NRS 484.379 must not be released on probation, and a sentence imposed for violating those provisions must not be suspended except, as provided in NRS 4.373, 5.055, 484.37937 and 484.3794, that portion of the sentence imposed that exceeds the mandatory minimum. A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of NRS 484.379 in exchange for a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless he knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial.

4. A term of confinement imposed pursuant to the provisions of this section may be served intermittently at the discretion of the judge or justice of the peace, except that a person who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense within 7 years must be confined for at least one segment of not less than 48 consecutive hours. This discretion must be exercised after considering all the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the family and employment of the offender, but any sentence of 30 days or less must be served within 6 months after the date of conviction or, if the offender was sentenced pursuant to NRS 484.37937 or 484.3794 and the suspension of his sentence was revoked, within 6 months after the date of revocation. Any time for which the offender is confined must consist of not less than 24 consecutive hours.

5. Jail sentences simultaneously imposed pursuant to this section and NRS 482.456, 483.560 or 485.330 must run consecutively.

6. If the person who violated the provisions of NRS 484.379 possesses a driver’s license issued by a state other than the State of Nevada and does not reside in the State of Nevada, in carrying out the provisions of subparagraph (1) of paragraph (a) of subsection 1, the court shall:

(a) Order the person to pay tuition for and submit evidence of completion of an educational course on the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances approved by a governmental agency of the state of his residence within the time specified in the order; or

(b) Order him to complete an educational course by correspondence on the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances approved by the Department within the time specified in the order, and the court shall notify the Department if the person fails to complete the assigned course within the specified time.

7. If the defendant was transporting a person who is less than 15 years of age in the motor vehicle at the time of the violation, the court shall consider that fact as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence of the defendant.

8. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Concentration of alcohol of 0.18 or more in his blood or breath” means 0.18 gram or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of the blood of a person or per 210 liters of his breath.

(b) “Offense” means:

(1) A violation of NRS 484.379 or 484.3795;

(2) A homicide resulting from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance or resulting from any other conduct prohibited by NRS 484.379 or 484.3795; or

(3) A violation of a law of any other jurisdiction that prohibits the same or similar conduct as set forth in subparagraph (1) or (2).

Conviction will likely result in:
Jail time, UP TO 6 MONTHS FOR A FIRST OR SECOND OFFENSE
Fines and assessments, including court costs,
Lengthy and expensive DUI training classes,
Loss of driving privileges for a period up to 3 years,
Skyrocketing insurance costs,
Public humiliation and damage to reputation, and
Job Loss when your employer becomes aware of your arrest.

888-339-4384
247 Court Street, Reno, NV 89501
The Law Office of Walter B. Fey - Reno DUI Attorney
Located at 247 Court Street Reno, NV 89501. View Map
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