DUI & DWI in Nevada
Across the United States, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is a serious offense and carries harsh penalties. It's no different in the state of Nevada. Beyond alcohol and illegal drugs, the DUI charge even applies to prescription and over-the-counter remedies when taking them impairs your ability to safely drive a car.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit
The illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Nevada is:
- 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old
- 0.04% for commercial license holders
- 0.08% for everyone else
The BAC applies only to alcohol. If any detectable amount of an illegal substance is found, you'll receive at least the same penalties as you would for alcohol, and perhaps even more.
What is a DUI in Nevada?
The Illegal Per Se Law simply means that driving with a BAC at or above the legally prescribed limit is an offense in and of itself. However, because the BAC limits are just a guide, you can also be arrested or cited for having a lower―but still detectable―amount of alcohol in your system.
The Implied Consent Law means that you must submit to BAC testing when requested by a police officer. Getting into the car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol already "implies" your consent to being tested. If you resist, law enforcement has been given permission to use reasonable force. You can also be arrested immediately for resisting (this is the more likely result).
The Open Container Law makes it illegal to drive a vehicle with opened alcoholic beverages anywhere in the car. It doesn't apply, however, to the living areas of a motor home or RV, or the passenger areas of buses, taxis, and limousines.
Additional penalties can come from " aggravating circumstance". These can include such things as a DUI charge when you had a passenger under 15 years old in your car.
Nevada DUI Penalties
Refusing a Chemical Test Penalties
Do not think that refusing a chemical test will keep you from any penalties. The first time you refuse a chemical test you will have your driver's license suspended for a minimum of 1 year.
If you are charged with a DUI your license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. You do have the option to appeal an administrative revocation by requesting a hearing. To request a hearing you must contact your local Office of Administrative Hearings. They can help you with the steps needed to appeal a suspension. You can also read the Hearings Brochure by the NV DMV.
The administrative penalties for a 1st offense DUI are:
- License revocation: 90 days.
- Victims Compensation Civil Penalty: $35.
- Ignition Interlock Device (installation and monthly monitoring).
- Driver's License Fee: $42.25.
- Testing Fee: $26.
- Reinstatement Fee: $121.
- SR-22 Certificate of Liability Insurance: Required 3 years.
The more offenses you have the stiffer the penalties.
You may be eligible for a restricted license after you have served a portion of your revocation time. For a 1st offense you must wait at least 45 days. For a 3rd offense you will have to wait a minimum of 1 year. A 2nd offense DUI is not eligible for a restricted license until all of the suspension time has been completed.
If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you will be charged an extra $60 for the chemical tests, if any were done at the time of your arrest.
First DUI conviction:
- Jail sentence of 2 days to 6 months OR 96 hours of community service.
- Fine of $400 to $1,000.
- Mandatory attendance at DUI school.
- Possible order to attend a substance-abuse treatment program.
- Drivers license revoked 185 days.
Second DUI conviction within 7 years:
- Jail sentence or home arrest 10 days to 6 months.
- Fine of $750 to $1,000.
- 100 to 200 hours of mandatory community service.
- Possible car registration suspension.
- Possible order to attend a substance-abuse treatment program or undergo clinical supervision for up to 1 year.
- Drivers license revoked 1 year.
Third (or more) DUI conviction within 7 years:
- Prison sentence of at least 1 to 6 years.
- Fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
- Possible suspension of your vehicle registration.
- Drivers license revoked 3 years.
Under 21 years old
DUI criminal penalties, for those under 21 years old are the same as above, but these minor drivers may also have to undergo an evaluation for alcohol and drug abuse. The evaluation could lead to required treatment ordered by the court.
DUI causing death or serious injury (even on a first offense):
- Driver license revoked for 3 years.
- Prison sentence of 2 to 20 years.
- Fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
If you are arrested for a DUI offense, you're in for some time at the police station and some time in court. You may wish to have a DUI lawyer by your side while you make the decision whether to plead guilty or not guilty. If you decide to fight the charges, you'll have your best chance of succeeding if you appoint a lawyer.
How to Reinstate Your Nevada Driver's License
To get a restricted license after the administrative suspension and the court-imposed suspension have elapsed, you will be required to do the following at the DMV:
- Pay all fines and fees.
- Retake the vision and written tests, and possibly also the skills test.
You will need to fill out a Application for Restricted License (Form DMV-21). You may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle before you can reinstate your license. IIDs require an installation fee as well as a monthly maintenance fee. An IID can only be installed and maintained by a company approved by the state.
Protect Yourself from Other Drivers
Even if you aren't driving under the influence yourself, your life can be drastically altered forever by coming into contact with someone who is. When you see a car on the road that is driving erratically or otherwise makes you think the driver is impaired, stay away from it.
The following are signs that a driver may be driving while impaired:
- Turning too widely
- Straddling the center line, or swerving between lanes
- Near collisions with people or objects
- Weaving or drifting from lane to lane
- Driving off-road, or ignoring turn lanes and continuing straight
- Driving too fast or too slowly
- Stopping in the road for no reason
- Erratic, uneven braking
- Driving into oncoming traffic
- Slow response to traffic lights or signs
- Sudden speed changes
- Driving at night without headlights