Felony DUI Laws in Nevada

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prosecuted as a Nevada felony in four situations:

  1. DUI-3rd - the defendant had two prior DUI convictions in the last seven years;
  2. Prior felony DUI - the defendant had already been convicted of a felony-level DUI;
  3. DUI with injury or death - the incident killed or caused substantial bodily harm to another person; or
  4. Vehicular homicide - the incident caused a death, and the defendant has at least three prior DUI convictions

It makes no difference if any prior DUIs occurred in Nevada or another state or U.S. territory.

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Driving while impaired becomes a felony in Nevada if someone gets seriously hurt or if the defendant has two prior DUI convictions in the last seven years.

1. What are the penalties for felony DUI in Nevada?

It depends on the specific crime the defendant gets convicted of:

Felony-level DUI conviction

Nevada penalties*

Third-time DUI – NRS 484C.400(1)(c)

Category B felony:

The defendant must also submit to an alcohol and drug addiction evaluation

Eligible defendants may be able to avoid prison and a felony conviction by doing DUI Court (a rehab program).

DUI following a felony DUI – NRS 484C.410

Category B felony:

  • 2 - 15 years in prison;
  • $2,000 - $5,000 in fines;
  • Attendance at a victim impact panel;
  • A 3-year driver's license revocation; and
  • An ignition interlock device in the defendant's car for 1 to 3 years

The defendant must also submit to an alcohol and drug addiction evaluation

DUI causing injury or death – NRS 484C.430

Category B felony:

  • 2 - 20 years in prison;
  • $2,000 - $5,000 in fines;
  • Attendance at a victim impact panel;
  • A 3-year driver's license revocation; and
  • An ignition interlock device in the defendant's car for 1 to 3 years

Vehicular homicide – NRS 484C.440.

Category A felony:

  • 25 years or life in prison;
  • Attendance at a victim impact panel;
  • A 3-year driver's license revocation; and
  • An ignition interlock device in the defendant's car for 1 to 3 years

The defendant may be paroled after 10 years.

* If the defendant was transporting a child under 15, the judge will consider it an “aggravating factor.” This means the court will probably impose a harsher sentence than it would otherwise.

Any prison sentences will likely be served in a minimum-security facility. If possible, the defendant will be segregated from violent offenders.

The Nevada DMV can still suspend a defendant's license even if the charges get dropped. Learn more about avoiding a license suspension.1

2. Can I get a felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor?

DUI-third defendants may be able to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor DUI-second by doing Felony DUI Court. Also called the Serious Offenders Program, DUI Court is an intensive rehabilitation program that lasts three to five years.2

Otherwise, prosecutors are not allowed to reduce felony-level DUIs down to misdemeanors unless they lack evidence to justify the felony charge.3 So the defense attorney's job is to show prosecutors that they lack this evidence.

For instance, a DUI-third charge can get knocked down if there are insufficient records of the defendant's prior DUI convictions. And a DUI causing injury charge should be reduced if the D.A. cannot show that the defendant's impaired state caused the accident.

Valuable evidence to help get a felony drunk or drugged driving charge reduced includes:

  • surveillance video,
  • medical records,
  • eyewitnesses, and
  • court records

Scroll down to section four for possible defense strategies that could get felony-level DUI charges completely dismissed.

3. Can the record of conviction be sealed?

Felony drunk or drugged convictions may never be sealed in Nevada. But if the charge gets reduced to a misdemeanor-level DUI, the record may be sealed seven years after the case ends.4 Or if the charge gets dismissed, the case may be sealed right away.5

Learn how to get a Nevada DUI criminal record seal.

4. What are the best defenses to felony DUI?

Five possible arguments to get felony-level DUI charges dropped include:

  1. The police lacked probable cause to suspect the defendant of DUI;
  2. The police made errors while administering the field sobriety tests;
  3. The breath or blood test devices were mishandled or broken;
  4. The defendant's high blood alcohol content (BAC) results were due to a medical condition, such as GERD; or
  5. The medical phenomenon of rising blood alcohol caused the high BAC result

Ultimately, prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense attorney can show that the state's case is too holey or inconsistent to meet this burden, the case should be dropped.

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Arrested for drunk or drugged driving in Nevada? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We have decades of combined experience in fighting to get DUI charges reduced or dismissed.

In California? See our article on felony DUI in California.

In Colorado? See our article on felony DUI/DWAI in Colorado.


Legal References

  1. NRS 484C.400; NRS 484C.530 (victim impact panel); NRS 483.460 (license revocation); NRS 484C.460 (interlock device); NRS 484C.300 (evaluation); Sindelar v. State, 382 P.3d 904, 382 P.3d 904 (2016).
  2. NRS 484C.340.
  3. NRS 484C.420; NRS 484C.430; NRS 484C.440.
  4. NRS 179.245.
  5. NRS 179.255.

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