Driving under the Influence of Methamphetamine in Nevada
(NRS 484C.110)
Explained by Las Vegas DUI Defense Attorneys

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Nevada DUI laws make it illegal to drive under the influence of not only alcohol but also any kind of drug, including methamphetamine. Penalties may include up to $1,000 in fines, possible jail, and the driver may also be charged with drug possession.

In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers explain "Nevada DUI with meth" laws as well as how to fight the charges.

Definition (NRS 484C.110)

Methamphetamine, which is also called speed, crank, crystal, monster, and glass, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can be prescribed in small doses by a doctor. In World War II, Air Force pilots were sometimes given meth to help keep them awake during long flights and to even sharpen their senses and reflexes . . . so it is a subject for debate whether driving under the influence of meth really hinders or in fact aids driving.

The legal definition of DUI methamphetamine in Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle when:

  1. you have ingested meth "to a degree which renders you incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle," or
  2. Your blood contains 100 nanograms per ml. of meth, or
  3. Your urine contains 500 nanograms per ml. of meth.

Therefore, you do not technically need to be "high" for a policeman to arrest you for breaking Las Vegas DUI meth laws. So long as your blood or urine registers the minimum proscribed amount while you are driving a car, Nevada considers it "illegal per se" whether or not you are actually impaired.

Arrest

If a police officer believes your driving suggests that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she will probably pull you over, ask you some questions and maybe ask you to perform Nevada field sobriety tests (FSTs) and to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). If you pass the PBT but do poorly on the FSTs, the officer may suspect that you have ingested drugs rather than alcohol.

The following symptoms are associated with methamphetamine use and may tip off a policeman trained in drug recognition evaluation (DRE) that a driver is under the influence of it:

  1. euphoria
  2. motor restlessness & lack of coordination
  3. violence, aggression, nervousness, restlessness
  4. palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  5. delusions
  6. increased heart rate, blood pressure, or respiration rate
  7. light sensitivity

Chemical Testing (NRS 484.160)

Anyone who drives in the state is presumed to have given "implied consent" to take a blood and/or urine test whenever they are stopped on suspicion of drugged driving with meth. If a driver in Nevada refuses to submit to a DUI chemical test, the cop may constrain him/her and use "reasonable force" to have the test administered.

Driver's License suspension

When someone is arrested in Las Vegas for drunk driving, the officer usually confiscates his/her license immediately following a failed breath test. But in Nevada DUI meth cases where the driver instead takes a blood test, the driver's license cannot be suspended until after the test results come back, which may not be for many weeks after the arrest. The Nevada DMV mails the driver a notice of the suspension.

Defenses

If you have been arrested for Las Vegas DUI meth, that does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty for it. Remember that prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove under the influence of meth before you can be convicted . . . and your attorneys may be able to raise that reasonable doubt in several different ways. The following are some defenses that Nevada DUI drug attorneys have used with great success:

  • Defective testing equipment or misconduct. If your attorney can show that any chemical tests were administered wrongly, that the samples could have been contaminated or that the testers were not properly certified, your case should be dismissed.
  • You did not start ingesting meth until after you stopped driving the car. If the prosecutor cannot prove that the driving was under the influence of meth, the DUI charge should be thrown out.
  • No probable cause for the traffic stop. Other than at roadblocks, Nevada police are not allowed to pull drivers over without "probable cause" for the traffic stop. If the police did not observe you committing a traffic violation or driving unsafely before they stopped you, the case should be tossed.
  • Lack of causation in DUI cases with death or injury. You cannot be convicted of Nevada DUI meth causing death or injury if the fatality did not result from the drugged driving itself. If your attorney can demonstrate that the victim was more at fault than you or that another intervening cause other than the driving led to the injuries or death, then you should not be convicted.

Penalties (NRS 484C.400)

Driving under the influence of methamphetamine in Las Vegas, Nevada, is usually charged as just a misdemeanor. But if you have had two other DUI convictions in the last seven years or if the incident resulted in someone dying or getting seriously injured, the prosecutor will bring felony charges instead.

The following are the standard Nevada DUI penalties for meth cases, which are identical to DUI of alcohol punishments.

First DUI

  • 2 days to 6 months in jail or 24 hours to 96 hours of community service (the court will usually order a suspended jail sentence of 6 months)
  • Nevada DUI School (an alcohol/drug education program that the student pays for)
  • $400 to $1,000 in fines plus court costs
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • 90 days suspension of your driver's license (but you can usually receive a restricted license after 45 days)
  • (Penalties can be doubled if the incident allegedly occurred in a work zone)

Second DUI

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail or residential confinement
  • $750 to $1,000 in fines or community service
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • An alcohol/drug dependency evaluation (which costs $100)
  • 1 year driver's license suspension or revocation,
  • A lengthy alcohol or drug abuse treatment program (called DUI Court, not Nevada DUI School)
  • (Penalties will probably be doubled if it happened in a work zone)
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Third DUI (in 7 years)

  • 1 to 6 years in Nevada state prison
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • 3 year driver's license suspension or revocation,
  • An alcohol & drug evaluation

DUI causing injury or death

  • 2 to 20 years in Nevada state prison
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • (If the case involved a fatality and the driver has already been convicted of DUI three or more times, then the charge will instead be for Nevada Vehicular homicide. A conviction carries twenty-five years or a life sentence in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years.)

Nevada meth possession (NRS 453.337)

If you are pulled over for DUI in Las Vegas and the cop finds meth on your person or in your car, you may also be charged with violating Nevada drug possession law. With methamphetamine being a schedule II drug, the penalties for simple possession include the following:

  • A first offense is a category D felony, carrying one to four years imprisonment and maybe a $5,000 fine.
  • A second offense is a category C felony, carrying one to five years imprisonment and maybe a $10,000 fine.
  • A third or subsequent offense is a category B felony, carrying three to fifteen years imprisonment and maybe a $20,000 fine.

Plea bargain

In some Las Vegas DUI meth cases, the D.A. may agree to lower the charge to Nevada Reckless Driving as part of a plea bargain. Potential employers who review your criminal record will not be as deterred by a Nevada Reckless Driving conviction as they would be by a DUI meth conviction. Best of all, reckless driving can be sealed from your record after only two years as opposed to seven years for DUI.

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Call us if you are facing charges for Nevada DUI Meth . . .

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of meth in Nevada, phone our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone consultation. For decades our lawyers have been successfully resolving all kinds of DUI matters and may be able to get your case reduced to a lesser offense or even dismissed so you stay out of jail and keep your driver's license. And if you are not an American citizen, we will do everything in our power to keep you out of immigration court and to safeguard your right to be in the U.S.

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