"Misdemeanor DUI Court" in Nevada
("The Moderate Offenders Program")


Misdemeanor DUI Court is an intensive rehabilitation program that allows eligible misdemeanor DUI defendants suffering from addiction in Nevada to avoid jail and DUI convictions. Also known as the Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County, Misdemeanor DUI Court typically lasts one year and includes:

Las Vegas's Moderate Offenders Program is very selective. Participants who break the rules face jail time. But if a defendant completes the program successfully, the judge may reduce the charge to something lesser such as reckless driving

In this article, our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys discuss

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

Misdemeanor DUI Court
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 allows eligible first- and second-time DUI defendants 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.

In short, Misdemeanor DUI Court is an alternative sentencing program that aims to rehabilitate rather than penalize.1

2. Should I do Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?

The Moderate Offenders Program is a lengthy and expensive commitment, but it is a good option if:

  1. the District Attorney refuses to dismiss or plea bargain down the DUI charge, and
  2. the defendant has a substance-abuse problem.

Successful DUI Court defendants may

  • avoid jail,
  • get help to fight their addiction, and
  • probably get the DUI charge reduced.

Note that second-time DUI defendants still have to do five (5) days in jail no matter what. But that is still half the 10-day jail sentence that DUI 2nd defendants have to do if they are not accepted into DUI Court.2

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 an alcoholic or drug addict;
  • 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.

Note that first-time DUI defendants that had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 or above are not eligible for the Moderate Offenders Program.3

SCRAM
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 is an intensive rehabilitation process that spans one (1) year on average. However, DUI Court may last from only six (6) months to as much as 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:

Misdemeanor DUI School requirements Details

“Status check” meetings with the judge

These are weekly. But as the defendant works through rehab, these meetings taper off.

In Clark County, the Moderate Offenders Program meets on Thursdays.

Jail and/or community service

For a DUI first, the defendant does 1 day in jail or 24 hours of community service.

For a DUI second, the defendant does 5 days in jail and up to 50 hours of community service

House arrest (“residential confinement”) for 90 days

There can be no alcohol in the home during house arrest. The defendant may have to wear a SCRAM anklet that detects if the defendant has ingested alcohol.

An ignition interlock device installed in all the defendant's cars.

Also called a “breath interlock device (BID)”, an ignition interlock device precludes the car from starting if the defendant blows a blood alcohol content of .02 or above. The case manager is notified whenever this happens.

Group counseling such as Alcoholics Anonymous and individual counseling.

Counseling is bi-weekly or weekly.

Random alcohol testing

The judge and case manager decide the frequency.

Other terms specific to the defendant

In some cases, the judge will impose a curfew, a driver's license suspension, or a GPS tracker the defendant has to wear.

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.4

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

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

  1. The defense attorney submits to Justice Court a completed application for Misdemeanor DUI Court. The application includes a substance abuse evaluation filled out by a certified counselor or doctor.
  2. The D.A. and court then have ten (10) days to request a hearing to debate whether the defendant should be accepted.
  3. If the judge lets the defendant into the Moderate Offenders Program, the judge will suspend the defendant's jail sentence.

Defendants not accepted to Misdemeanor DUI Court will face typical Nevada misdemeanor DUI penalties.5

Defendants hoping to get accepted into the Clark County Moderate Offenders Program may increase their chances by hiring an experienced attorney. The program is very selective, and the application is time-sensitive and confusing.

6.  How does the program handle relapses or if I break a rule?

gavel

DUI Court judges determine sanctions 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. But picking up another DUI charge will automatically cause the defendant to be expelled from the program and ordered to serve out his/her original sentence. The original sentence usually includes six (6) months in jail.6

7. What if I do not complete the program?

People who do not finish the Moderate Offenders Program are ordered to complete their original misdemeanor sentence. Henderson criminal defense attorney Adam Solinger gives an example:

Example: Vince gets arrested for DUI 2nd in Las Vegas. He is accepted into the Moderate Offenders Program after the judge imposes a suspended sentence of 6 months in jail. Vince never takes DUI Court seriously and keeps skipping court appearances and counseling. Finally the judge expels Vince from the program and imposes the 6-month jail sentence.

Had Vince in the above example stayed in DUI Court, he would have done only the 5 days in jail that the program requires.7

8. 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

9. Can I do Misdemeanor DUI Court if I am charged with a DUI third?

No. The Moderate Offenders Program is open only to people facing DUI-first or -second charges.

Defendants facing DUI third charges 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.9

10. 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. Judges determine these situations on a case-by-case basis.

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Arrested for DUI in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers might be able to negotiate 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 Application by a first-time offender to undergo a program of treatment; sentencing of offender and conditional suspension of sentence; notice to Department.

    1. An offender who is found guilty of a violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 that is punishable pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection 1 of NRS 484C.400, other than an offender who is found to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.18 or more in his or her blood or breath, may, at that time or any time before the offender is sentenced, apply to the court to undergo a program of treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse for at least 6 months. The court shall authorize that treatment if:

          (a) The offender is diagnosed as an alcoholic or abuser of drugs by:

                 (1) An alcohol and drug abuse counselor who is licensed or certified, or a clinical alcohol and drug abuse counselor who is licensed, pursuant to chapter 641C of NRS, to make that diagnosis; or

                 (2) A physician who is certified to make that diagnosis by the Board of Medical Examiners;

          (b) The offender agrees to pay the cost of the treatment to the extent of his or her financial resources; and

          (c) The offender has served or will serve a term of imprisonment in jail of 1 day, or has performed or will perform 24 hours of community service.

          2. A prosecuting attorney may, within 10 days after receiving notice of an application for treatment pursuant to this section, request a hearing on the question of whether the offender is eligible to undergo a program of treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse. The court shall order a hearing on the application upon the request of the prosecuting attorney or may order a hearing on its own motion. The hearing must be limited to the question of whether the offender is eligible to undergo such a program of treatment.

          3. At the hearing on the application for treatment, the prosecuting attorney may present the court with any relevant evidence on the matter. If a hearing is not held, the court shall decide the matter upon affidavits and other information before the court.

          4. If the court grants an application for treatment, the court shall:

          (a) Immediately sentence the offender and enter judgment accordingly.

          (b) Suspend the sentence of the offender for not more than 3 years upon the condition that the offender be accepted for treatment by a treatment provider that is approved by the court, that the offender complete the treatment satisfactorily and that the offender comply with any other condition ordered by the court. If the court has a specialty court program for the supervision and monitoring of the person, the treatment provider must comply with the requirements of the specialty court, including, without limitation, any requirement to submit progress reports to the specialty court.

          (c) Advise the offender that:

                 (1) He or she may be placed under the supervision of a treatment provider for a period not to exceed 3 years.

                 (2) The court may order the offender to be admitted to a residential treatment facility or to be provided with outpatient treatment in the community.

                 (3) If the offender fails to complete the program of treatment satisfactorily, the offender shall serve the sentence imposed by the court. Any sentence of imprisonment must be reduced by a time equal to that which the offender served before beginning treatment.

                 (4) If the offender completes the treatment satisfactorily, the offender's sentence will be reduced to a term of imprisonment which is no longer than that provided for the offense in paragraph (c) of subsection 1 and a fine of not more than the minimum fine provided for the offense in NRS 484C.400, but the conviction must remain on the record of criminal history of the offender.

          5. The court shall administer the program of treatment pursuant to the procedures provided in NRS 458.320 and 458.330, except that the court:

          (a) Shall not defer the sentence, set aside the conviction or impose conditions upon the election of treatment except as otherwise provided in this section.

          (b) May immediately revoke the suspension of sentence for a violation of any condition of the suspension.

          6. The court shall notify the Department, on a form approved by the Department, upon granting the application of the offender for treatment and his or her failure to be accepted for or complete treatment.

    NRS 484C.330 Application by the second-time offender to undergo a program of treatment; sentencing of offender and conditional suspension of sentence; notice to Department.

    1. An offender who is found guilty of a violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 that is punishable pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 1 of NRS 484C.400 may, at that time or any time before the offender is sentenced, apply to the court to undergo a program of treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse for at least 1 year. The court shall authorize that treatment if:

          (a) The offender is diagnosed as an alcoholic or abuser of drugs by:

                 (1) An alcohol and drug abuse counselor who is licensed or certified, or a clinical alcohol and drug abuse counselor who is licensed, pursuant to chapter 641C of NRS, to make that diagnosis; or

                 (2) A physician who is certified to make that diagnosis by the Board of Medical Examiners;

          (b) The offender agrees to pay the costs of the treatment to the extent of his or her financial resources; and

          (c) The offender has served or will serve a term of imprisonment in jail of 5 days and, if required pursuant to NRS 484C.400, has performed or will perform not less than one-half of the hours of community service.

          2. A prosecuting attorney may, within 10 days after receiving notice of an application for treatment pursuant to this section, request a hearing on the matter. The court shall order a hearing on the application upon the request of the prosecuting attorney or may order a hearing on its own motion.

          3. At the hearing on the application for treatment, the prosecuting attorney may present the court with any relevant evidence on the matter. If a hearing is not held, the court shall decide the matter upon affidavits and other information before the court.

          4. If the court grants an application for treatment, the court shall:

          (a) Immediately sentence the offender and enter judgment accordingly.

          (b) Suspend the sentence of the offender for not more than 3 years upon the condition that the offender be accepted for treatment by a treatment provider that is approved by the court, that the offender complete the treatment satisfactorily and that the offender comply with any other condition ordered by the court. If the court has a specialty court program for the supervision and monitoring of the person, the treatment provider must comply with the requirements of the specialty court, including, without limitation, any requirement to submit progress reports to the specialty court.

          (c) Advise the offender that:

                 (1) He or she may be placed under the supervision of the treatment provider for a period not to exceed 3 years.

                 (2) The court may order the offender to be admitted to a residential treatment facility or to be provided with outpatient treatment in the community.

                 (3) If the offender fails to complete the program of treatment satisfactorily, the offender shall serve the sentence imposed by the court. Any sentence of imprisonment must be reduced by a time equal to that which the offender served before beginning treatment.

                 (4) If the offender completes the treatment satisfactorily, the offender's sentence will be reduced to a term of imprisonment which is no longer than that provided for the offense in paragraph (c) of subsection 1 and a fine of not more than the minimum provided for the offense in NRS 484C.400, but the conviction must remain on the record of the criminal history of the offender.

          5. The court shall administer the program of treatment pursuant to the procedures provided in NRS 458.320 and 458.330, except that the court:

          (a) Shall not defer the sentence, set aside the conviction or impose conditions upon the election of treatment except as otherwise provided in this section.

          (b) May immediately revoke the suspension of sentence for a violation of a condition of the suspension.

          6. The court shall notify the Department, on a form approved by the Department, upon granting the application of the offender for treatment and his or her failure to be accepted for or complete treatment.

  2. Id.; NRS 484C.400.
  3. Id.
  4. Id.
  5. Id.
  6. Id.; see Kim Palchikoff, Jail alternative is no free pass, Las Vegas Sun (June 7, 2015).
  7. NRS 484C.320; NRS 484C.330.
  8. See Kim Palchikoff, Jail alternative is no free pass, Las Vegas Sun (June 7, 2015).
  9. NRS 484C.340.

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