A first or second DUI in Las Vegas is just a misdemeanor as long as no one gets killed or seriously injured . . . but it still carries up to six months incarceration and looks bad on your record to potential employers. However, you may be able to avoid jail completely and to get your charge pleaded down to a more minor offense by doing a misdemeanor DUI Court program in Nevada.
Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada (also called Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County) usually lasts one year and consists of house arrest, court monitoring, alcohol testing and rigorous counseling as well as many other conditions. Upon successful completion, your DUI conviction may be reduced to something lesser such as reckless driving.
What is DUI Court in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Las Vegas DUI Court acts as a "Nevada alternative sentencing program" that offers accused DUI offenders the opportunity to submit to intense alcohol counseling instead of incarceration. Clark County as well as many other Nevada counties run two types of DUI Courts: One for felony DUI, and one for misdemeanor DUI:
This webpage describes "Misdemeanor DUI Court," which is specifically meant for people arrested for a first or second DUI charge. Misdemeanor DUI Court also goes by the title "Moderate Offenders Program" in Clark County. If you complete this program successfully, your DUI charge may be reduced to a lesser offense.
(For information on "Felony DUI Court," which is also called the "Serious Offenders Program" in Clark County, click here.)
Should I do Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court?
If you are charged with misdemeanor DUI in Nevada, your attorney's first course of action will be to try to get the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. But if the prosecutor will not negotiate and you do have problems with drinking, then Las Vegas DUI Court is a good alternative because it allows you to avoid jail, get help, and it may result in your charge being reduced. (If it is your second DUI, you still will have to do five days in jail no matter what.)
Am I eligible for Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court?
In order to be eligible for the Clark County Moderate Offenders Program, you must have no more than one past DUI conviction in the last seven years. If it is your first DUI and your BAC was below .18, you probably will not be admitted into DUI Court because the judge will assume you do not have a drinking problem and therefore would not benefit from the program.
What does Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court require of me?
The Clark County Moderate Offenders Program typically lasts one year, though Las Vegas DUI Court may span as few as six months or be extended to no more than three years. You get assigned a case manager who recommends to the judge what kind of treatment you require and how much.
Nevada DUI Court usually comprises these requirements:
- Weekly "status checks" with the DUI Court judge, but as you move through the program these meetings may taper off. (In Clark County, DUI Court meets on Thursdays.)
- If it is your first DUI, 1 day in jail or 24 hours of community service (if you have not done so already). If it is your second DUI, 5 days in jail and some community service.
- A Nevada SCRAM anklet that detects if you have ingested alcohol.
- A GPS tracker so the court can monitor your whereabouts.
- 90 days of house arrest with no alcohol in the home.
- A breath ignition interlock device installed in each of your cars. If it detects your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02 or more, it keeps the car from starting and notifies your case manager.
- Group counseling such as Alcoholics Anonymous and individual counseling. These meetings are typically bi-weekly or weekly.
- Periodic and unannounced alcohol testing.
- Depending on the case, the judge may also demand you abide by a curfew and surrender your driver's license.
If you complete all the requirements of the Moderate Offenders Program, your misdemeanor DUI charge may be reduced to a Nevada reckless driving conviction or another lesser charge depending on the terms of your plea bargain. (NRS 484C.320; NRS 484C.330)
How can I apply for Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court?
If you are interested in applying for the Clark County Moderate Offenders Program, it is highly recommended that you retain counsel to take care of the process because it is extremely selective, time-sensitive and confusing. The application process consists of the following steps:
- Your attorney submits to Justice Court a completed application for Misdemeanor DUI Court along with a substance abuse evaluation filled out by a certified counselor or doctor.
- Within 10 days of receiving notice of your Moderate Offenders Program application, the D.A. or the court can request a hearing to debate whether you should be accepted.
- If the judge grants you admission to the Moderate Offenders Program, he/she will suspend your jail sentence and transfer the case to DUI Court.
If you do not get accepted to Misdemeanor DUI Court in Las Vegas, you will face typical Nevada misdemeanor DUI penalties.
How does Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court handle relapses or if I break a rule?
It varies. Clark County judges presiding over the Moderate Offenders Program determine sanctions for relapsing or breaking the rules on a case-by-case basis. They take into account your criminal record, how you have done in the program so far, and any other circumstances relevant to your case.
Some Nevada judges permit you to relapse once with nothing but a verbal reprimand or a SCRAM bracelet before you are terminated from Las Vegas DUI Court. But picking up another DUI charge will automatically cause you to be expelled from the program and sent to jail to serve out your original misdemeanor sentence.
How much will Nevada DUI Court cost me?
It depends on the length of your program. A one-year Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County usually costs you up to $4,500 total.
What if this is my third DUI?
The Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County is open only to people facing misdemeanor charges for their first or second DUI. But if you are facing felony charges for a third DUI and you have never hurt or killed anyone else while driving under the influence, you may be eligible for Felony DUI Court.
In Clark County, Felony DUI Court is called the Serious Offenders Program. it is much longer, more expensive and more intense than the Moderate Offenders Program, but it is a good alternative to prison. Read more about Felony DUI Court in Nevada.
If I do not live in Nevada, can I do DUI Court in my home state?
Sometimes. Judges weight this option on a case-by-case basis. If your home state's DUI Court is comparable to Nevada's and the judge trusts that you will see it through, there is a decent chance you will be allowed to do it even though the prosecutors will always recommend against it.
Call us for help . . . .
If you are facing misdemeanor DUI charges in Nevada, our Las Vegas drunk driving defense lawyers might be able to bargain with prosecutors to get your case thrown out or reduced to a lesser offense so you can avoid DUI Court completely. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone consultation.