"Misdemeanor DUI Court" in Nevada
("Moderate Offenders Program")
Explained by Las Vegas Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers

Misdemeanor DUI Court (aka the Moderate Offenders Program) is an alcohol rehabilitation program in Nevada that allows eligible DUI defendants to avoid jail. Upon successful completion, the defendant's DUI conviction may be reduced to something lesser such as reckless driving.

Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada usually lasts one (1) year and consists of court monitoring, alcohol testing, rigorous counseling as well as other conditions. It typically costs upwards of $4,500.

The Moderate Offenders Program in Las Vegas is very selective. And participants who break the rules may be sent to jail.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada, including eligibility, costs, and requirements. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

Also see our article on Felony DUI Court (aka the Serious Offenders Program).

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Misdemeanor DUIs carry up to 6 months of jail in Nevada. DUI Court participants may avoid jail altogether.

1. What is Misdemeanor DUI Court in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Misdemeanor DUI Court is an alternative sentencing program that offers first- and second-time DUI offenders the opportunity to submit to intense alcohol counseling instead of incarceration. Upon successful completion of this program, the DUI charge may be reduced to a lesser offense.1

2. Should I do Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?

Misdemeanor DUI Court is a good option if (1) the prosecutor refuses to dismiss the DUI charge or plea bargain it down, and (2) the defendant has a substance-abuse problem. Through DUI Court the defendant can avoid jail, get help, and probably get the DUI charge reduced. Note that for a second DUI, the defendant would still have to do five (5) days in jail no matter what.

3. Am I eligible for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?

In order to be considered for the Moderate Offenders Program in Nevada, the defendant must:

  • be facing charges of a first- or second-time misdemeanor DUI (within the last seven (7) years), and
  • have never seriously hurt or killed someone from driving under the influence

DUI Court is geared for people who clearly have drinking problems. Therefore, judges are likely disqualify defendants with no past DUIs and who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of below .18.

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A SCRAM anklet, which detects the wearer's blood alcohol level.

4. What is Misdemeanor DUI Court like in Nevada?

The Clark County Moderate Offenders Program typically lasts one (1) year. Though DUI Court may span as few as six (6) months or be extended to no more than three (3) years.

The defendant gets assigned a case manager who recommends to the judge what kind of treatment he/she requires and how much. Nevada DUI Court usually comprises these requirements:

  • Weekly "status checks" with the DUI Court judge, but as the defendant move through the program these meetings may taper off. (In Clark County, DUI Court meets on Thursdays.)
  • If it is the person's first DUI, one (1) day in jail or twenty-four (24) hours of community service (if he/she has not done so already). If it is the person's second DUI, five (5) days in jail and some community service.
  • A SCRAM anklet that detects if the defendant has ingested alcohol.
  • A GPS tracker so the court can monitor the defendant's whereabouts.
  • Ninety (90) days of house arrest with no alcohol in the home.
  • A breath ignition interlock device installed in each of the defendant's cars. If it detects the driver's BAC is .02 or more, it keeps the car from starting and notifies the 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 the defendant abide by a curfew and surrender his/her driver's license.

If the defendant complete all the requirements of the Moderate Offenders Program, his/her misdemeanor DUI charge may be reduced to a reckless driving conviction or another lesser charge depending on the terms of the plea bargain.2

5. How do I apply for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?

The application process for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada consists of the following steps:

  1. The defense 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.
  2. Within ten (10) days of receiving notice of the Moderate Offenders Program application, the D.A. or the court can request a hearing to debate whether the defendant should be accepted.
  3. If the judge grants the defendant admission to the Moderate Offenders Program, the judge will suspend the defendant's jail sentence and transfer the case to DUI Court.

Defendants not accepted to Misdemeanor DUI Court will face typical Nevada misdemeanor DUI penalties.

People interested in participating in the Clark County Moderate Offenders Program should retain counsel to take care of the process because it is extremely selective, time-sensitive and confusing.

6.  How does Nevada Misdemeanor DUI Court handle relapses or if I break a rule?

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It varies. Moderate Offenders Program judges determine sanctions for relapsing or breaking the rules on a case-by-case basis. They take into account the defendant's criminal record, how he/she has done in the program so far, and any other circumstances relevant to the case.

Some Nevada judges permit the defendant to relapse once with nothing but a verbal reprimand or a SCRAM bracelet before he/she is terminated from DUI Court. But picking up another DUI charge will automatically cause him/her to be expelled from the program and sent to jail to serve out his/her original misdemeanor sentence. The original sentence usually includes six (6) months in jail.

7. How much will Misdemeanor DUI Court cost me in Nevada?

It depends on the length of the program. A one-year Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County usually costs up to $4,500 total.

8. Can I do Misdemeanor DUI Court if it is my third DUI?

Probably not. The Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County is open only to people facing misdemeanor charges for their first or second DUI within the last seven (7) years.

Defendants facing felony charges for a third DUI (and who have never hurt or killed anyone else while driving under the influence) may be eligible for Felony DUI Court. In Clark County, Felony DUI Court is called the Serious Offenders Program. It is longer, more expensive and more intensive than the Moderate Offenders Program. 3

9. If I do not live in Nevada, can I do DUI Court in my home state?

Perhaps, if the home state's DUI Court is comparable to Nevada's and the judge trusts that the defendant will see it through.

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Arrested for DUI 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.

Legal References:

  1. NRS 484C.320-.330.
  2. Id.
  3. 484C.340.

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