Felony DUI Laws in Nevada
Explained by Las Vegas Drunk Driving Lawyers

If you get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Nevada, it will be charged as only a misdemeanor unless:

  1. you have already been convicted of DUI twice or
  2. the incident caused someone else to be seriously harmed or killed or
  3. you have already been convicted of felony DUI.

In those cases, the prosecutor will bring felony DUI charges in Nevada that potentially carry years in prison and hefty fines. Keep reading to learn more about the law, penalties, and possible defenses our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may use in your case. (Note that DUI defendants transporting a child under 15 at the time will face enhanced sentences. Learn more in our article on Nevada DUI Laws while Driving a Child.)

Nevada felony DUI

DUI is normally a misdemeanor in Nevada, but prosecutors will bring felony drunk driving charges in Las Vegas in three situations:

  • If the suspect had two (2) previous DUI convictions in the last seven (7) years, or
  • If the suspect had a previous felony DUI conviction, or
  • If the DUI incident resulted in a fatality or serious bodily injury to another person.

Penalties for Third DUI Offense in Nevada

A third DUI conviction in Nevada within seven years of the first one is punished as a category B felony. The standard sentence includes the following:

  • Nevada prison term of 1 to 6 years
  • Fines from $2,000 to $5,000
  • Victim Impact Panel
  • A Nevada Breath Interlock Device in your car for 1 to 3 years after your release
  • 3-year driver's license suspension or revocation, 5-day registration suspension, and a $35 civil penalty fee
  • An alcohol & drug evaluation

Learn more about Nevada felony DUI based on prior convictions.

Penalties for a DUI following a Felony DUI conviction

Getting a DUI if the suspect has a previous felony DUI conviction is a category B felony carrying:

  • Nevada prison term of 2 to 15 years,
  • 3 year driver's license suspension,
  • Fines from $2,000 to $5,000, and
  • A Nevada Breath Interlock Device in your car as a condition of reinstating driving privileges

It does not matter if the new DUI is a minor incident that would normally be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Nor does it matter if the previous felony DUI occurred in another state or occurred a long time ago. See Nevada v. Sendelar, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 68 (2016).

Also see our article about violating DUI probation in Nevada.

Penalties for a Nevada DUI Causing Injury or Death:

A conviction for Nevada DUI causing injury or death in Nevada is a category B felony carrying the following punishments:

  • Nevada prison term of 2 to 20 years,
  • 3 year drivers' license suspension
  • Fines from $2,000 to $5,000, and
  • A Nevada Breath Interlock Device in your car as a condition of reinstating driving privileges

However, if a suspect accused of Nevada DUI with death already has three (3) previous DUI convictions, the prosecutor will instead charge him/her with the category A felony of Nevada vehicular homicide. The penalties for Nevada Vehicular Homicide are twenty-five years in prison or even a life sentence, with the possibility of parole after 10 years.

Anyone imprisoned for Las Vegas felony DUI will almost surely be housed in a minimum-security facility and segregated from violent offenders. Als,o note that defendants may also be ordered to wear Nevada SCRAM bracelets as a term of probation.

In lethal DUI cases where the driver's behavior seemed particularly reckless, the D.A. may charge the suspect with murder.[1]


Depending on the facts of your case, there are dozens of different legal defenses your drunk driving attorney can try to use in an effort to convince the prosecutor that your case should be dismissed or lessened to more minor charges. The following are a few:

  • Lack of probable cause. A policeman is not constitutionally permitted to pull someone over unless he/she had probable cause to believe the driver committed a traffic violation or another crime. If your attorney can make a case that the policeman lacked sufficient probable cause, your entire felony DUI case may be dismissed.
  • Police misconduct, defective equipment, inaccurate readings. Police and chemical testers sometimes make mistakes in how they administer or read chemical tests, and sometimes the machinery itself is broken. Your attorney will investigate whether there could have been any procedural mistakes or faulty equipment in your case and can then use this information to leverage a better deal or even a case dismissal.
  • No causation. In felony DUI cases with death or injury in Las Vegas, you cannot be found guilty if the prosecutor does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your intoxicated driving caused the fatality or bodily harm. If your attorney can make a good argument that something else caused the death or injury or that the other party was really fault, than your case should be thrown out.
  • Necessity. In certain emergency situations that the driver did not cause, it may be legally permissible to drive drunk. Learn more about the necessity defense in Nevada DUI cases.

(See our article about the no-driving defense in Nevada DUI law.)

Plea Bargaining felony DUI in Nevada

If your attorney can get the prosecutor to reduce your felony DUI charge in Nevada to a misdemeanor, you may face the following standard drunk driving penalties:

  • up to six months in jail (the sentence is usually suspended)
  • Nevada DUI School or DUI Court
  • Fines of up to $1,000 plus court costs
  • Victim Impact Panel (a MADD lecture)
  • up to 1 year driver's license suspension & a $35 civil penalty fee

Note that adult DUI defendants who are convicted of DUI while transporting a child under 15 years old face enhanced punishments. Read more in our page on Nevada DUI with child laws.

Seek Legal Counsel if You are Facing a Las Vegas Felony DUI Charge . . . .

Although Las Vegas drunk driving penalties can be very harsh, the most inconvenient aspect of DUI convictions are often the collateral consequences: more expensive car insurance premiums, a blemished driving record, and a criminal record that will come back to haunt you during background checks the next time you apply for a job.

You may not be able to get around these consequences in the end. But we will do everything in our power to maximize your chances. By way of thorough case investigation and relentless negotiation, we may be able to craft an effective defense that could cause your case to be dismissed, reduced to a less serious charge or win you a "not guilty" verdict at trial. Do not hesitate to contact our Las Vegas NV DUI lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.

Note that following a DUI arrest, the cop usually has the driver's car impounded. For more information about Nevada DUI impound laws, read more about Nevada DUI impound laws and the DUI court process.

For information about California DUI law, go to our webpage on California DUI law. And for information about multiple DUI convictions in California, go to our article on multiple DUI convictions in California.

Also see our article on Nevada boating under the influence laws (NRS 488.410).

Legal References

  1. Rio Lacanlale, DUI suspect in crash that killed Las Vegas boy faces murder charge, Las Vegas Review-Journal (September 14, 2018)

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