A 2nd offense drunk driving conviction in Nevada can carry extremely harsh punishments including jail even though a "DUI second" is technically a misdemeanor. However, an experienced Las Vegas drunk driving attorney may be able to get a DUI charge lessened to "reckless driving" or even a dismissal.
This page summarizes the law for second offense drunk driving offenses in Las Vegas, Nevada. Scroll down to learn the definition, potential defenses and possible penalties.
Definition of driving under the influence
It is a criminal offense in Nevada for anyone to exercise control over a car or other vehicle while under any of the following circumstances:
- the defendant was driving while intoxicated or high, OR
- the defendant's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was at least 0.08, OR
- the defendant's blood exceeds the maximum levels allowed of certain illegal and prescription drugs (for more specifics refer to our article on Nevada drugged driving laws)
In short, it is illegal in Nevada to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs or while the driver's blood contains more than the legal amount of alcohol or drugs.
Defenses to 2nd Time DUI in Nevada
The most effective methods to fight charges for a second offense DUI in Nevada turn on the specific circumstances of the case. A seasoned defense attorney will scrutinize everything from how the cop originally confronted the driver and the manner in which the arrest was carried out to how the cop measured the BAC and if any witnesses observed the incident.
As in every criminal matter, the prosecution in a DUI case bears the burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the court to hand down a conviction. A defense lawyer will attempt to create this reasonable doubt by amassing evidence to show the following:
- law enforcement misused the breath testing or blood testing instruments
- the forensic technicians who handled the testing instruments were not certified
- the arresting officer did not have sufficient probable cause to stop the defendant in the first place
- the Nevada field sobriety tests were not carried out correctly if at all
- the driver suffered from an ailment or condition which caused an inaccurate measurement on the breath testing equipment.
Penalties for 2nd Offense DUI in Nevada
- 10 days in jail (usually the Clark County Detention Center)1, though the court may order up to 6 months. Sometimes the judge allows the defendant to serve part of the time in home confinement.
- up to $1,000 in fines plus court costs, which typically amounts to $1,100 total
- Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada, which is a lengthy alcohol and drug treatment program
- A Nevada Victim Impact Panel
- A court order to "stay out of trouble," which means the defendant may not get any new arrests or citations with the exception of minor traffic tickets
- An alcohol/drug dependency evaluation which costs $100
- If the defendant's BAC measured 0.18 or higher, the court will also order a Nevada breath interlock device to be installed on the defendant's car for up to 3 years. Otherwise, the judge may order the device be installed for up to 6 months.
In addition, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles routinely imposes a 1-year suspension of the defendant's driver's license.
For penalty information on 1st- and 3rd-time DUIs, refer to our article on first-time DUI penalties and third-time DUI penalties. And for a broad overview on drunk driving punishments go to our article on Nevada DUI penalties.
Plea Bargaining and Sealing Records
In limited circumstances a defense attorney may be able to convince the D.A. to reduce a DUI second to the Nevada crime of reckless driving. Penalties are typically the same, but the long-term consequences are beneficial in four ways:
- If the defendant is ever prosecuted for drunk driving again, having a reckless driving conviction will not count as having a previous DUI. This means that if the defendant is convicted on this new DUI, he/she will face lesser penalties upon conviction.
- Pleading to reckless driving keeps the defendant's criminal record more desirable to future employers, who do not look down on reckless driving convictions as much as they do DUIs.
- Unlike DUIs, a reckless driving conviction does not trigger automatic license suspension. (But note that it does tack on 8 demerit points to the defendant's driver's license.)
- Finally, the waiting period to get a reckless driving conviction sealed from the defendant's criminal record is only one year as opposed to DUI convictions, which is seven years. (Read more on the subject of sealing criminal records in Nevada.)
For more information about Nevada DUI laws, refer to our article on Nevada DUI Laws.
Call us if you have been arrested . . . .
If you have been accused of a DUI second in Nevada, phone Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). They can speak with you for free regarding the odds of getting your case reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed completely. And if you wish there is always the option of taking your matter to trial.
1Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Clark County Detention Center houses inmates awaiting trial and who have been sentenced to short jail stays.