DUI of Marijuana in Nevada law
(NRS 484C.110)

Nevada law punishes driving under the influence of marijuana the same as DUI with alcohol. And even if the driver is not technically impaired, he/she may still be convicted of "doped driving" if his/her blood contains sufficient traces of pot.

People convicted of a first-time DUI with marijuana in Nevada can usually avoid jail as long as they pay a fee, attend some educational classes, and abstain from driving for 90 days. (It may be possible to get a restricted license after 45 days.)

In some cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to get a marijuana DUI charge reduced to reckless driving or dismissed completely. Otherwise, a DUI conviction will remain on the person's record for at least seven (7) years before it may be sealed.

In this article our Las Vegas DUI defense lawyers answer frequently-asked-questions about Nevada laws for driving under the influence of marijuana, including legal definitions, defenses, penalties, and more. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

Also see our general article on driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).

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DUI with marijuana carries the same penalties as DUI with alcohol in Nevada.

1. Can I get a DUI in Nevada for driving high? Or with pot in my blood?

Yes. The legal definition of "DUI with marijuana" in Nevada makes it a crime to drive while:

  1. the driver has ingested marijuana "to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle"; OR
  2. The driver's blood contains 2 nanograms per ml. of marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or 5 nanograms per ml. of marijuana metabolite (11-OH-tetrahydrocannabinol)

Consequently, a driver does not have to be "high" for a cop to arrest him/her for violating DUI marijuana laws. As long as the driver's blood contains the minimum prohibited amount while the driver is operating a vehicle, the law deems it "illegal per se" even if the driver is driving safely.1

Even though it is now legal in Nevada to possess up to one (1) ounce of marijuana in private, note that smoking marijuana in public is still illegal. Smoking pot in public carries a $600 fine.2

2. How do marijuana DUI arrests happen in Nevada?

Cops who observe erratic driving will initiate a traffic stop. After the driver pulls over, the officer will ask the driver questions, observe his/her behavior and probably ask him/her to take a preliminary breath test (PBT).3

If the driver passes the PBT, the cop may suspect that the driver has ingested drugs rather than alcohol if:

  • the driver has failed the field sobriety tests (FSTs), such as walking in a straight line and standing on one leg;

  • the driver's pupils are dilated;

  • the driver smells of pot;

  • the driver is exhibiting short-term memory impairment;

  • the driver has eyelid or body tremors; and/or

  • the driver's behavior is especially relaxed and uninhibited

An officer with specialized drug recognition evaluation training (DRE) may also join the investigation. The DRE may try to determine the driver's blood pressure, pulse and if he/she has dry mouth. If the cop believes there is probable cause that the driver committed DUI with marijuana, the cop will arrest him/her and take him to the station for a blood test.4

Note that if the cop finds more than one (1) ounce of pot on the driver's person or in his/her car, the driver may also face charges for marijuana possession.5

3. Do I have a choice between taking a breath or blood test after a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada?

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DUID arrestees may not take a breath test in Nevada.

No. Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs may not choose to take a breath test and must submit to a blood test. Every driver in Nevada is assumed to have given "implied consent" to take a blood test if they are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.6

If the driver refuses to take a blood test, the police must get a warrant to use "reasonable force" to administer the blood test.7 The cop can order up to three (3) samples taken within a five (5) hour time span following the initial arrest.

The chemical tests in Nevada Marijuana DUI cases measure the amount of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in the person's blood. The amount of marijuana in the driver's system depends on the driver's personal tolerance to pot, how concentrated the THC was, and how much the driver may have ingested, consumed or smoked.8

4. Will my driver's license be suspended after a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada?

At least not right away.

Whenever a DUI arrestee takes a blood test in Nevada, he/she gets to keep his/her driver's license until the results come back from the lab and show positive for drugs. At this point the Nevada DMV notifies the driver by mail that his/her license is being suspended. The driver may then request a Nevada DMV hearing to contest the suspension.9

The length of the license suspension depends on whether the driver has previous DUIs:

  • A first-time DUI carries a three (3) month suspension.
  • A second-time DUI carries a one (1) year suspension.
  • A third-time DUI carries a three (3) year suspension.10

The driver may be able to get a restricted license halfway through the suspension time in order to drive to and from work or school.11

5. How do I fight marijuana DUI charges in Nevada?

A surprisingly high number of Las Vegas DUI marijuana cases get thrown out or reduced to lesser charges like reckless driving or simple possession. The following are just some defenses an attorney may explore in defending a dope driving case in Nevada.

  • The driver was not under the influence of marijuana. The symptoms of smoking marijuana are very general and can be attributed to various innocent causes such as not having slept, not brushing teeth, being around cigarette smoke from partying, and just being nervous from the cop's questioning. An attorney may be able to demonstrate that the cop merely mistook the driver's appearance and behavior as indicative of DUI with marijuana when the actual cause had nothing to do with drugs.12
  • Lack of probable cause. Unless it is part of a coordinated DUI checkpoint, police cannot pull a driver over without adequate probable cause that he/she has broken a law or traffic violation. People who drive while high on marijuana often tend to drive even more carefully than intoxicated people do; therefore, a driver may have a good argument that the cop lacked sufficient probable cause to pull him/her over in the first place.13
  • Faulty testing equipment or administration: A defense attorney should conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether the police or lab technicians could have made any mistakes or contaminated the blood samples. If the attorney can raise a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the chemical test results, then the driver's marijuana DUI case should be dismissed.

Note that having a valid medical marijuana card is not a defense to DUI with marijuana.14

6. Can I go to jail for marijuana DUI in Nevada?

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A first-time DUI is usually a misdemeanor in Nevada.

Possibly, but not usually for a first offense. Punishments get harsher with each successive DUI conviction or if the incident resulted in injury or death.

The standard sentence for a Nevada DUI with marijuana conviction is virtually identical to regular Nevada DUI penalties for drunk driving:

6.1. First DUI with marijuana (in 7 years)

A first-time marijuana DUI incident within the last seven (7) years is prosecuted as a misdemeanor as long as no death or serious injury resulted. The punishment includes:

  • two (2) days to six (6) months in jail or twenty-four to ninety-six (24 - 96) hours of community service (courts typically order a six (6) month suspended jail sentence);
  • Nevada DUI School (at the person's expense);
  • fines of $400 to $1,000 plus court costs;
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel;
  • ninety (90) days suspension of driver's license (drivers can usually can get a restricted license after forty-five (45) days); and
  • a stay-out-of-trouble order while the case is open (meaning the driver may not get any further arrests)

Note that penalties can be doubled if the alleged DUI occurred in a work zone.

6.2. Second DUI with marijuana (in 7 years)

A second-time marijuana DUI incident within the last seven (7) years is prosecuted as a misdemeanor as long as no death or serious injury resulted. The punishment includes:

  • ten (10) days to six (6) months in jail or residential confinement;
  • fines of $750 to $1,000 or commensurate hours of community service;
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel;
  • An alcohol/drug dependency evaluation (which costs $100);
  • one (1) year driver's license suspension or revocation;
  • a long alcohol or drug abuse treatment program (called DUI Court, not Nevada DUI School); and
  • a stay-out-of-trouble order while the case is open (meaning the driver may not get any further arrests)

Note that penalties can be doubled if the alleged DUI occurred in a work zone.

6.3. Third DUI with marijuana (in 7 years)

A third-time marijuana DUI incident within the last seven (7) years is prosecuted as a category B felony as long as no death or serious injury resulted. The punishment includes:

  • one to six (1 - 6) years in Nevada State Prison;
  • fines of $2,000 to $5,000;
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel;
  • three (3) year driver's license suspension or revocation; and
  • A alcohol & drug evaluation15
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Marijuana DUI causing death or injury carries up to 20 years in Nevada State Prison.

6.4. DUI with marijuana causing injury or death

A marijuana DUI incident that causes death or serious injury is a category B felony. The sentence includes:

  • two to twenty (2 - 20) years in prison; and
  • fines of $2,000 to $5,00016

If the incident was fatal and the driver already has three (3) or more DUI convictions, the prosecutor will instead charge the driver with vehicular homicide. It is a category A felony carrying twenty-five (25) years or a life sentence with the possibility of parole after ten (10) years.17

7. Can I get a marijuana DUI case sealed in Nevada?

Misdemeanor DUI convictions can usually be sealed seven (7) years after the case ends. Felony DUI convictions may never be sealed.18

DUI charges that get reduced to reckless driving or careless driving may be sealed one (1) year after the case ends. And DUI cases that get dismissed (where there is no conviction) may be sealed right away.19

8. Can I get deported for a marijuana DUI conviction in Nevada?

A misdemeanor DUI is usually not a deportable offense. Felony DUIs may be deportable, but it is a gray area. And any alien who is convicted of possessing more than thirty (30) grams of marijuana faces removal.20

Non-U.S. citizens who get charged with any criminal offense are advised to retain legal counsel as quickly as possible. If the attorney can get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense, the alien may be able to avoid immigration court. Learn more about DUI and deportation in Nevada as well as the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Nevada, do not hesitate to call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone meeting. We have had decades of success in achieving favorable resolutions in every kind of DUI case. And for non-citizens, we proceed extra carefully in an effort to ensure that the criminal case will not also threaten your resident status.

For information about California DUI marijuana law, go to our article on California DUI marijuana law.

People suffering from marijuana addiction can join the free, twelve-step program Marijuana Anonymous.

Legal References:

  1. NRS 484C.110.
  2. NRS 453.336.
  3. NRS 484C.150.
  4. See NRS 484C.110.
  5. NRS 453.336.
  6. NRS 484C.160.
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. NRS 483.463.
  10. NRS 483.460.
  11. NAC 483.200.
  12. NRS 484C.110.
  13. NRS 484C.420.
  14. NRS 453A.
  15. NRS 484C.400.
  16. NRS 484C.430.
  17. NRS 484C.440.
  18. NRS 179.245.
  19. NRS 179.255.
  20. 8 USC § 1227.

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