Reason why the driver's license was suspended or revoked
Nevada penalties for driving on the suspended or revoked license
Non-DUI charges, such as:
In many cases, prosecutors may be willing to plea bargain NRS 483.560 charges down to a lesser offense or a full dismissal. And a criminal record seal may be available one (1) year after the case ends.
There are several possible defenses to charges of driving under a suspended or revoked license, including:
- The license was never suspended or revoked;
- The defendant was given no notice of the suspension or revocation; and
- The suspension or revocation period has ended.
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Can I drive on a suspended or revoked license in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. What are the penalties?
- 3. What are the defenses?
- 4. How can I fight the license suspension or revocation?
- 5. Why was my license suspended or revoked?
- 6. Can I get a restricted license?
- 7. How do I reinstate my license?
- 8. What if I live out of state?
- 9. When can I seal the case?
- 10. Can I be deported?
No. People may drive in Nevada only if they have a current, operative, and valid driver's license.1
Yes, if the license was revoked because of a DUI conviction. In these cases, the judge is required to impose:
- at least 30 days of jail (or 60 days of home confinement) but no more than six (6) months in jail; and
- a fine of $500 to $1,000.
The judge may not permit probation in lieu incarceration. However, the defendant may be able to serve the jail intermittently as long as:
- it all gets done with six (6) months after the conviction date, and
- no incarceration period lasts less than 24 hours
If DUI was not the reason for the license revocation or suspension, then the judge usually imposes just a misdemeanor fine of up to $1,000 for violating NRS 483.560. Note that the judge also may...but rarely does...impose up to six (6) months in jail.2
2.1. License suspension penalties
In addition to fines and possibly jail, penalties for violating NRS 483.560 also includes an additional period of license suspension or revocation:
Driver's license status when the defendant drove unlawfully
Additional suspension/revocation imposed
A doubling of the original suspension period
1 extra year of revocation
Revocation of the license of 1 year
Suspended or cancelled license for an indefinite period
6-month suspension for first violation
1-year suspension for each subsequent violation
The extra suspension or revocation period will run consecutively with the underlying suspension or revocation period.3 Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example of how this works:
Example: John's driver's license was revoked for one (1) year for his DUI second case in Las Vegas. Eleven months into the revocation, police catch John driving. Since his license is still revoked, the judge imposes an extra year of revocation. So John will not be eligible to drive again for another 13 months: The remaining one (1) month of his original revocation plus the 12 months of the new revocation period.
Note it does not matter in the above example that John was only one month away from the revocation period ending when he took the wheel. He will still face another full year of license revocation for driving on a revoked license.
Three common defenses for driving on a suspended or revoked license include showing that the:
- License was never suspended
- Defendant had no notice
- Suspension period passed
3.1. License was never suspended or revoked
The Nevada DMV is a large bureaucratic organization, and clerical errors are inevitable. If the defendant can show that the DMV was mistaken about the license being suspended or revoked, the case should be dismissed.
3.2. Defendant had no notice
A defendant's Nevada driver's license may not be suspended or revoked unless the DMV or law enforcement makes an adequate effort to inform the defendant. This notice is typically in the form of a:
- document that police hand drivers following a DUI arrest, or
- certified letter mailed from the DMV to the defendant's last known address.
If the defense attorney can show that authorities failed to give the defendant proper notice, then the charges for violating NRS 483.560 should be dismissed.
3.3. Suspension / revocation period passed
If a defendant drives after his/her license's suspension or revocation period already ended, then the defendant may not be convicted of violating NRS 483.560 even if he/she neglected to formally reinstate the license. (However, the defendant may instead face charges of driving without a license.)
Note that the majority of these cases resolve through a plea bargain where the charge gets reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed. But if the defendant wants, he/she always has the option to have a bench trial in pursuit of a full acquittal.4
The defendant may be able to request an administrative Nevada DMV Hearing to contest the suspension or revocation. These civil proceedings are like "mini-trials" where the defense attorney may present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
DMV hearings are more difficult to win than criminal trials because the DMV judge requires very little evidence to find against the defendant. However, they are still worth pursuing because they are an opportunity to gather evidence and test defense theories.
Note that there may be a very limited time to request a DMV hearing. In DUI cases for example, defendants have only seven (7) days after failing the Nevada DUI breath test or Nevada DUI blood test to request a hearing. Otherwise, they forfeit the right.5
There are six main reasons why a person's license may get suspended or revoked in Nevada:
- DUI charge
- Graffiti conviction
- 12 or more driver's license demerit points
- Not following court orders
- Certain juvenile offenses
- Medical conditions
5.1. DUI charge
Getting a conviction for driving under the influence in Nevada results in an automatic license revocation. Even if the charge gets reduced or dismissed in criminal court, the Nevada DMV can still revoke the defendant's license if the person's blood alcohol level was at least .08.
The length of the DUI revocation period depends on the defendant's history of driving while impaired:6
Nevada DUI offense
(any prior DUIs can be in any state)
Length of Nevada driver's license revocation
90 days, though it may be possible to get a restricted license after 45 days
(Starting October 1, 2018, the revocation period will be 185 days.)
2nd DUI (within 7 years)
(No restricted license is available.)
3 years, though a restricted license may be available after 1 year
5.2. Graffiti or defacing property
Adults 18 and older who get convicted of using graffiti (or otherwise defacing) private or public property face a license suspension of six (6) months to two (2) years.7 Juvenile defendants also face a license suspension of three (3) months to two (2) years.8
5.3. 12 or more demerit points
The Nevada DMV imposes a six (6) month suspension when people accumulate twelve (12) or more demerit points on their driver's license within a year time span. Every moving violation has some demerit point value attached to it.9 For example:
|Nevada Traffic offense||Nevada DMV Demerit points|
|Reckless Driving in Nevada||8|
|Hit & Run in Nevada||6|
|Following too closely in Nevada||4|
|Failure to yield right-of-way||4|
|Passing a school bus when signals are flashing||4|
|Failure to yield to a pedestrian in Nevada||4|
|Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign||4|
|Speeding 1-10 mph over limit||1|
|Speeding 11-20 mph over limit||2|
|Speeding 21-30 mph over limit||3|
|Speeding 31-40 mph over limit||4|
|Speeding 41 mph and over limit||5|
Note that demerit points stay on a person's driver's license for one (1) year before disappearing.
5.4 Not following court orders
The Nevada DMV may suspend people's driver's licenses who neglect to:
- pay a Nevada traffic ticket,
- show up to a mandatory court appearance (the Nevada offense of failure to appear), or
- pay child support (the Nevada offense of failure to pay child support).10
5.5 Certain juvenile offenses
Minors found delinquent in juvenile court may have their Nevada driver's licenses suspended for three (3) months to two (2) years. This typically occurs when the child is truant or committed crimes related to firearms, alcohol and drugs.11 Learn more about the defense of juveniles in Nevada.
5.6 Medical conditions
Some medical conditions may cause a person's driving privileges in Nevada to be suspended or restricted. Examples of such conditions include:
- Heart problems,
- Psychiatric disorders,
- Impaired hearing,
- Impaired vision,
- Limited mobility, and/or
- Inability to reach the vehicle pedals without assistance.
For more information, see our article about medically-restricted licenses in Nevada.12
Possibly, depending on the circumstances. In Nevada DUI cases, the waiting time to get a restricted license depends on the specific charge:
Nevada DUI offense
Waiting time to get a Restricted License
45 days into 90 day revocation.
No restricted license is available.
DUI 3rd or DUI causing injury or death
1 year into 3-year revocation.
Restricted licenses may permit the license holder to drive to and from:
- the grocery store, and/or
- court-ordered child visitation13
Defendants may call the Nevada DMV at 775-684-4364 (Option 2) to see whether they may be eligible for a restricted license, and when. And refer to the Nevada DMV restricted license application.
It depends on the circumstances of the case. Call the Nevada DMV for specific instructions:
|Nevada DMV location||Phone number|
|Las Vegas||(702) 486-4368 option 1|
|Reno/Carson City||(775) 684-4368 option 1|
|Rural Nevada (Toll Free)||(877) 368-7828 option 1|
People who had their license suspended or revoked for more than a year may have to take a driving skills test.14
Out-of-state residents are subject to the same charges and penalties as Nevada residents.
Since an NRS 483.560 violation is just a misdemeanor, local Nevada attorneys can usually appear in court on the out-of-state defendants' behalf without them having to come back into the state.
A conviction for driving on a suspended or revoked license may be sealed one (1) year after the case ends in Nevada.15 But if the charge gets dismissed, then the defendant may pursue a record seal right away.16
Driving on a suspended license is not a deportable offense. However, immigration law is constantly changing under the current administration. Aliens facing criminal charges should consult an attorney as soon as possible to discuss their case and how to safeguard their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...
Have you been arrested for or charged with driving on a license that is suspended or revoked in Nevada? Then phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone meeting. And if you are not a U.S. citizen, we will take every legal measure possible to keep you out of Immigration Court and removal proceedings.
See our article on the difference between a revoked and suspended driver's license in Nevada.
Arrested in California? Go to our article on California "driving on a suspended license" law.
- NRS 483.560 (Nevada law prohibits people driving "a motor vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access at a time when the person's driver's license has been cancelled, revoked or suspended.")
- Sixth Amendment.
- NRS 483.360.
- NRS 483.460.
- NRS 206.330.
- NRS 62E.250.
- NRS 483.448.
- NRS 483.465; NRS 483.765.
- NRS 62E.250.
- NRS 483.367; NAC 483.350.
- NRS 483.360; Restricted License Information, Nevada DMV.
- License suspensions & revocations, Nevada DMV.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.