How to get a "restricted driver's license" following a DUI arrest in Nevada

Where does a "restricted license" allow me to drive?

The Nevada DMV allows some DUI defendants whose driver's licenses have been revoked to get "restricted" licenses to drive to and from:

  • work,
  • school,
  • the doctor,
  • the market, and/or
  • court-ordered child visitation

When can I get a restricted license after a Nevada DUI?

First-time DUI defendants may obtain a restricted license 90 days into their 185-day driver's license revocation.

Felony DUI defendants may obtain a restricted license 1 year into their three-year driver's license revocation.

Once the revocation period has ended, the defendants are free to apply for a regular driver's license with no restrictions.

Penalties for violating a restricted license

Getting arrested for driving under the influence can cause the person's driver's license to be revoked even if the driver never gets convicted. And people caught driving outside the scope of a restricted license face misdemeanor penalties of:

  • 30 days to 6 months in jail (or 60 days to 6 months in house arrest), and
  • $500 - $1,000 in fines

In this article, our Las Vegas NV DUI defense attorneys discuss:

restricted license
Nevada DUI defendants with revoked licenses may be able to get "restricted licenses" to drive to work, school, and other locations.

1. What are restricted licenses in Nevada DUI cases?

Restricted licenses permit people whose licenses have been revoked following a Nevada DUI arrest to drive to essential locations such as:

  • their job,
  • their school or college,
  • their doctor's office (or the doctor's office of a household member),
  • their grocery store, and/or
  • court-ordered child visitation1

Therefore, people with restricted licenses must be careful not to drive for recreational purposes such as to the movies, a mall, a restaurant, a park, a friend's house, etc. People with restricted licenses should have a designated driver to take them to places outside the scope of their restricted license.  

People arrested on a DUI first may get a restricted license 90 days into their 185-day driver's license revocation. And people arrested for a DUI third or a DUI causing injury can get a restricted license one year into the three-year driver's license revocation.2

Restricted licenses expire once the underlying revocation period ends.

1.1. How Nevada DUI arrests affect driver's licenses

Many people do not realize that a DUI arrest subjects the driver to not one but two cases in Nevada:

  1. The criminal case, and
  2. The civil DMV case, as discussed below.

A Nevada DMV case has a narrower scope than a criminal case. Whereas criminal courts impose fines and even incarceration for a DUI, all the DMV can do is to revoke the defendant's driver's license if the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or above. The length of the revocation depends on the defendant's DUI history:

Nevada DUI offense Driver's License Revocation Time

DUI 1st

185 days

DUI 2nd

1 year

DUI 3rd or DUI causing injury or death

3 years

Note that a DUI defendant's driver's license can be revoked regardless of what happens in the criminal case. Criminal court should not convict a defendant of DUI unless the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But the DMV can find someone liable for DUI based solely on the defendant's breath or blood test results.3

1.1.1. Breath and Blood Tests in Nevada DUI Cases

Drivers arrested on suspicion of DUI in Nevada are immediately taken by the police to a local station or jail for a mandatory DUI breath test or DUI blood test. The driver usually can choose which test to take. (However if the police suspect the driver is on drugs, the driver is required to take a blood test.)4

Some drivers opt for the breath test because the breathalyzer device is not intrusive and gives instant results. If the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) registers as .08 or higher, the police immediately confiscate the person's driver's license. If the driver takes the blood test, he/she keeps his/her license pending the results (which may take several weeks to come back).

1.2. "DMV Hearings" in Nevada DUI cases


DUI defendants are entitled to a "Nevada DMV Hearing" to contest the revocation of his/her driver's license.

If the person waives his/her right to a hearing, then the license revocation begins seven (7) days after the breath tests come back positive for DUI or five (5) days after the blood test comes back positive for DUI. Alternatively, if the person chooses to schedule a DMV hearing, he/she may get a "temporary license" for several weeks pending the hearing results.5

1.2.1. Time to request a DMV hearing

There is a short grace period between when DUI defendants allegedly fail their breath test and when their license revocation begin. It is during this grace period that the defendant may request a "DMV hearing" to contest the license revocation and request a temporary license.  

When this grace period begins depends on whether the defendant takes a breath or blood test:

  • Breath. DUI defendants who fail a DUI breath test have their licenses confiscated at the time of their arrest. The police then give the defendants a pink slip, which indicates that their license will be revoked in seven (7) days.
  • Blood. By contrast, DUI defendants who take blood tests may still drive until the DMV mails them a certified letter saying that the test indicates that they committed a DUI. This may be weeks or month after the arrest. This certified letter indicates that their license will be revoked in five (5) days from the mailing.6

1.2.2. Process for retrieving a temporary license in Nevada

Once a criminal defense attorney faxes the DMV Administrative Office requesting a DMV hearing and a temporary license, the DMV takes up to two (2) business days to process the paperwork. The DUI defendant may then visit any full-service DMV in Nevada to retrieve the license as long as he/she follows the following rules:

First, the defendant must bring to the DMV one of the following forms of identification:

  • A photo ID, such as a state-issued ID or valid U.S. passport (the passport can be expired within less than one (1) year)
  • A birth certificate
  • Proof of Social Security Number, such as an SSA 1099, a W2, or a Social Security Card

Second, the defendant needs to bring a completed copy of the Nevada DMV's driver's License or Identification Card" application form and pay a fee to the DMV clerk. Alternatively, the defendant can go to the DMV's Information Desk to get the form (which is yellow) and fill it out at the DMV.

Once the defendant waits on line for a DMV teller, the defendant will be issued a paper temporary license. The defendant will then be photographed, and another temporary license with the photo will be mailed to him/her within 10 business days. The defendant may then drive legally on the temporary license pending the DMV hearing results.7

1.2.3. Nevada DMV Hearing


The DMV hearing is a like a mini-trial. The defendant and his/her attorney may present evidence and cross-examine the arresting officers.

However, DMV hearings are harder for DUI defendants to win than a criminal trial. This is because criminal prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the DMV's administrative judge needs very little evidence in order to find that the defendant committed DUI.

Still, DMV hearings are valuable because they serve as a dry run of the criminal case. And the defense attorney can extract valuable information from the arresting officer that he/she may be able to use to negotiate a good plea deal.8

1.2.4. DMV Hearing results

A few days following the DMV hearing, the DMV will mail out a copy of its "findings." If the DMV finds in favor of the defendant, his/her driver's license is reinstated. The defendant would just need to return to a full-service DMV to retrieve his/her permanent license. (The defendant should bring his/her ID and a copy of the DMV hearing findings.)

But if the DMV finds against the defendant, then his/her license will be revoked. Recall, the revocation periods depend on the defendant's charge:

  1. A DUI first carries a 185-day revocation
  2. A DUI second carries a 1-year revocation
  3. A DUI third (or DUI causing injury) carries a 3-year revocation.

Note that drivers who prevail at a DMV hearing will still have their license revoked if they end up getting convicted of DUI in criminal court.

Continue reading to learn if and how the driver can get a "restricted" license.9

2. When and how can I obtain a restricted license after a Nevada DUI?

The waiting period to obtain a restricted license depends on the defendant's DUI charge:

Nevada DUI offense

Waiting time to get a Restricted License

DUI 1st

90 days into 185-day revocation.

DUI 2nd

No restricted license is available.

DUI 3rd or DUI causing injury or death

1 year into 3-year revocation.

The defendant should go through the following steps to apply for a restricted license from the DMV:

  1. The defendant should contact the Nevada DMV in Carson City by dialing 1-877-368-7828 and then pressing options 6, 2 and 3. The defendant then needs to provide his/her driver's license number to the agent. At that point, the defendant should ask the agent if it is necessary to get an SR 22 insurance form from his/her insurance company in order to get a restricted license. It probably will be necessary.
  2. If the DMV agent confirms that the person needs an SR 22 form, he/she should contact his/her car insurance company and get an SR 22 form. (Learn more about how Nevada DUIs affect car insurance.)
  3. The defendant must then fill out the Nevada DMV Restricted License Application and follow directions on the application on how to submit it to the Nevada DMV. This includes getting an ignition interlock device installed and checked by the DMV.
  4. The defendant then waits to hear from the DMV. Note that the DMV will verify the information on the restricted license application with the defendant's employer. If the DMV approves the application, the defendant may then return to a full-service DMV with a valid ID to get the restricted license.

Note that a first-time DUI defendant serving a 185-day license suspension should submit the application about 75 days into the suspension. That way the DMV has time to process the application in time for the defendant to receive the restricted license at 90-day mark.10

3. When and where can I drive on a restricted license after a Nevada DUI?

Nevada restricted licenses permit DUI defendants to drive to and from the following locations under the following conditions:11

Permitted driving locations on a Nevada restricted license Rules and application requirements

To and from work and work-related tasks

The defendant's employer must complete certain information on the application. The DMV will verify the information with the supervisor.

Self-employed defendants must attach a copy of their business license or other acceptable document(s) to substantiate self-employment.

Workdays and hours are limited to a maximum of six (6) days per week, ten (10) hours per day.

To and from school

School authorities and parents/guardians must complete certain sections of the application.

The school route may be traveled on scheduled school days only, and no more than once daily. And the driving must be for academic purposes only, not extra-curricular activities.

To and from medical care providers

The application must include a statement from the medical provider(s), on the provider's letterhead and dated within the past thirty (30) days.

The application must include a “Verification of Need” affidavit completed by an unbiased individual (neighbor, social worker, clergyman) and signed in front of a DMV authorized representative.

To and from court-ordered child visitation

The application must include a certified copy of a court order authorizing restricted driving privileges to and from child visitation.

To and from the grocery store

The application must include a “Verification of Need” affidavit completed by an unbiased individual  (neighbor, social worker, clergyman) and signed in front of a DMV authorized representative.

The defendant may go only two (2) days a week during a two (2) hour period.

Note that if the defendant needs to drive a household member to the doctor's, the restricted license application must include a doctor's statement with the following information:

  1. description of the person's medical condition(s),
  2. prescribed medications,
  3. verification that the medical condition(s) renders the person unable to operate a motor vehicle, 
  4. whether the medical condition is temporary or permanent,
  5. if temporary, estimated time for recovery, and
  6. any recommended restrictions.

For further questions, call the DMV in Carson City at 775-684-4364 (option 2).

4. What if I drive outside the scope of my restricted license after a Nevada DUI?

Driving in violation of a restricted license in Nevada is a misdemeanor carrying:

  • 30 days to 6 months in jail or 60 days to 6 months in residential confinement, and
  • $500 - $1,000 in fines, and
  • probation is not available

The penalties are the same for the Nevada crime of driving on a revoked or suspended driver's license without a restricted license.12

People cited for driving without a license may be able to get the case dismissed if they can provide proof that they did have a valid restricted license at the time and just forgot to carry it with them.

Img call for help

Arrested for DUI in Nevada? Call us . . .

If you have been booked for a DUI in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to talk for free. We may be able to help you get a DMV hearing and a temporary license. And if necessary, we can walk you through how to get a restricted license so you can return to your normal life as soon as possible.

Arrested in Colorado? See our article on Colorado DUI driver's license suspension laws.

Legal References

  1. NRS 483.490.
  2. NRS 483.460.
  3. NRS 484C.230.
  4. Id.
  5. Id.; NRS 484C.220.
  6. NRS 484C.220.
  7. Id.; Restricted License Information, Nevada DMV.
  8. NRS 484C.230.
  9. Id.; NRS 483.460.
  10. Restricted License Information, Nevada DMV.
  11. Id.
  12. NRS 483.560.

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