Nevada drivers are entitled to an administrative hearing before their licenses can be suspended.
Racking up traffic tickets can result in a suspended driver's license. And just one DUI triggers a mandatory license suspension. But an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the traffic charge reduced or dismissed so that the defendant keeps his/her license.
This page summarizes how Nevada license suspension laws work and ways to avoid suspension. Keep reading to learn more. (Also refer to our article about medically-restricted licenses in Nevada.)
What is license suspension in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Like it sounds, a suspended license is when the Nevada DMV revokes a person's driving privileges for a certain period of time. Once the suspension period has elapsed, the driver may petition the DMV to reinstate the license.
When does the DMV suspend a driver's license in Las Vegas, Nevada?
There are many circumstances in which the DMV may suspend a person's driving privileges in Nevada. The two most common reasons are 1) DUI, and 2) too many demerit points.
DUI license suspensions
The Nevada crime of driving under the influence carries a mandatory license suspension period which increases with each DUI the defendant picks up:
- A first-time DUI carries a three-month license suspension.
- A second-time DUI in a seven year period carries a one-year license suspension.
- A third time DUI in a seven year period carries a three-year license suspension.
Note that DMV proceedings are separate from criminal court proceedings in Nevada. With rare exception, merely getting arrested for a DUI guarantees that the driver will face license suspension even if he/she is ultimately found "not guilty" in criminal court.
Also note that a common defense strategy is for the defendant's attorney to try to get the DUI charge reduced to the Nevada crime of reckless driving. Unlike DUIs, reckless driving does not require license suspension . . . instead it carries eight demerit points that go on the driver's license for one year.
Demerit point license suspensions
Most traffic violations in Nevada carry a certain number of "demerit points." For instance driving ten miles per hour over the speed limit has only one demerit. Meanwhile the Nevada crime of hit & run has six demerits. A driver who racks up twelve or more demerits in a year's time faces a license suspension of six months or more.
Other reasons for license suspensions
The following actions will cause the Nevada DMV to suspend the defendant's driver's license for some period of time:
- Nevada crime of street racing: Participating in an unauthorized speed contest on a public highway carries six months to two years of license suspension.
- Nevada crime of failure to pay child support: Being in arrears for court-ordered support payments for a child is grounds for license suspension in Nevada.
- Nevada crime of failure to maintain auto insurance: Failing to maintain SR-22 insurance for three years following certain license suspensions or revocations is grounds for license suspension.
- Nevada crime of graffiti: A juvenile who is convicted of one graffiti violation will get a license suspension of six months to two years.
- Nevada crime of juveniles using firearms: A juvenile who violates state firearm laws will get up to a one-to-two year license suspension depending on whether he/she has past offenses.
- Failure to appear: The DMV will suspend a person's driver's license if they do not pay a traffic ticket fine on time or if they fail to appear at a required court hearing.
- Failure to properly secure a child: Having three or more convictions for failing to use a child restraint system in a car is grounds for license suspension in Nevada.
- Truancy: Being habitually late for school may cause juveniles either to lose their license or to have to wait extra time before the license can be issued
- Juveniles with alcohol or drugs: Minors who buy, possess, sell or use drugs or alcohol may have their license suspended.
- No liability insurance: A person's license will be suspended if he/she has an accident with bodily injury or damages in excess of $750.00 and did not have liability insurance.
- Fraudulent license application or insufficient funds: The DMV may cancel a person's license for bouncing a check to the DMV or submitting a false license application.
How can a driver fight a license suspension in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Before the DMV can impose a license suspension it has to notify the driver about the upcoming suspension. At this point the driver can request a DMV hearing in Nevada to contest the suspension. The driver is then allowed to continue driving pending the outcome of the hearing.
A DMV hearing in Nevada is like a mini-trial in that the defendant's lawyer may cross-examine witnesses and present evidence. But the big difference is that DMV hearings are much harder for defendants to win than criminal trials because the state has a much lower burden of proof.
If the defendant wins the DMV hearing, he/she may continue driving. If the state wins, the DMV will notify the defendant of the length and dates of his/her license suspension.
Are demerit points permanent in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Note that the underlying traffic violation always remains on the defendant's permanent driving record unless the judge agrees to dismiss or reduce the charge as part of a plea bargain. Learn more about the Nevada DMV Demerit System. And see the list of Nevada DMV-approved traffic schools.
How does a suspended license get reinstated in Las Vegas, Nevada?
It depends on the type of case. Sometimes the driver has to take a written or vision test. And all drivers with suspended licenses of a year or more have to take a driving skills test. Either way it is the responsibility of the driver (or driver's lawyer) to contact the DMV and fill out the proper paperwork.
For specific instructions call the Las Vegas DMV at 702-486-4368 option 6.Note that drivers still have to go through the reinstatement process even if he/she gets cleared of all criminal charges.
What happens if a driver with a suspended license moves away from Nevada?
If someone with a suspended Nevada driver's license moves to another state, he/she still has to pay a reinstatement fee and earn clearance in Nevada before getting a license in the new home state. Go to the following form for more information: Processing Center Payment Authorization (NVL-007).
What happens if a driver with a suspended license in another state moves to Nevada?
New Nevada residents with suspended licenses in other states have to get their old licenses reinstated before they can get Nevada licenses. They should contact their state's DMVs for reinstatement procedures.
What if someone drives on a suspended license in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum sentence is six months in Clark County Detention Center and/or up to $1,000 in fines. Note that the judge will order 30 days in jail (or 60 days of house arrest) as well as fines if the suspension was due to a DUI. See more at our article on the Nevada crime of driving on a suspended license.
Call 702-DEFENSE . . . .
If you are facing license suspension due to a DUI, traffic ticket or other reason, call Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). They may be able to negotiate or litigate a favorable resolution to safeguard your license.
To learn about license suspension in California, go to our informational article on drivers license suspensions after a DUI in California. See also traffic violations in Nevada, Nevada crime of hit & run, Nevada crime of street racing, Nevada crime of failure to pay child support, Nevada crime of failure to maintain auto insurance, Nevada crime of reckless driving, Nevada crime of graffiti, Nevada crime of juveniles using firearms, Nevada DMV Demerit System, misdemeanor in Nevada, Clark County Detention Center, Nevada crime of driving under the influence, and Nevada crime of driving on a suspended license.