Getting arrested for a DUI can cause the person's driver's license to be suspended even if the driver never gets convicted. And the driver faces jail and high fines if he/she is then caught driving on a suspended license. But a skilled Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to secure temporary and restricted driver's licenses so the person may continue to drive legally.
This article explains how a Nevada DUI arrest can result in a suspended driver's license. It also defines what "temporary" and "restricted" driver's licenses are. Finally it outlines the procedures for applying for these licenses.
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: One in criminal court, and one in the Nevada DMV. What follows is information on the Nevada DMV case. (Learn more about the criminal case in our article on Nevada DUI law.)
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 suspend the defendant's driver's license if the driver's blood alcohol level (BAL) is .08 or above. The length of the suspension depends on the defendant's DUI history:
- A first time DUI carries a 90-day driver's license suspension
- A second-time DUI carries a 1-year driver's license suspension
- A third-time or subsequent DUI carries a 3-year driver's license suspension
Note that it is a misdemeanor in Nevada for a person with a suspended driver's license to drive before the suspension period is up. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. (Learn more about the Nevada crime of driving on a suspended license.)
Also note that a DUI defendant's driver's license can be suspended regardless of what happens in the criminal case. Whereas a criminal court should not convict a defendant of DUI unless the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the DMV can find someone liable for DUI based solely on the defendant's blood or breath tests results:
Finally note that drivers who prevails at a DMV hearing will still have their license suspended if they end up getting convicted of DUI in criminal court. Still, it is worth trying to a succeed at a DMV hearing as long as there is a shot that the criminal case may resolve with no DUI conviction (and therefore no license suspension).
Breath and Blood Tests in Nevada DUI Cases
People arrested on suspicion of DUI in Nevada are immediately taken by the police to a local jail for a mandatory breath or 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.)
Many drivers opt for the Nevada DUI breath test because the breathalyzer device is not intrusive. It also 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.
Some drivers opt to take the Nevada DUI blood test
Nevada DMV license suspension hearings
Whether or not a DUI defendant takes a breath or blood test, he/she is entitled to a "Nevada DMV Hearing" to contest the suspension of his/her driver's license. If the person waives his/her right to a hearing, then the license suspension begins as soon as the breath or blood tests come 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:
"Temporary"Licenses in Nevada DUI cases
Nevada DUI arrestees whose blood alcohol level is .08 or above are eligible for a "temporary license" if they request a DMV hearing to contest their driver's license suspension. The timeline for when a DUI defendant may request a temporary license depends on whether the driver submitted to breath or blood test:
DUI defendants who take breath tests have their licenses confiscated at the time of their arrest. The police then give the defendants a pink slip, which is a temporary driver's license good for 7 days. The defendant should soon contact a Las Vegas NV DUI defense attorney (well before the seven days are up). The defense attorney will then request a DMV hearing and a longer temporary license.
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 letter also states when the defendant's driver's license suspension period begins. The defendant should then contact a criminal defense lawyer right away to request a DMV hearing and temporary license.
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 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 passport (the passport can be expired within less than 1 year)
- A birth certificate
- Proof of Social Security Number, such as a SSA 1099, a W2, or a Social Security Card
Second, the defendant needs 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.
The DMV Hearing results
A few weeks 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 ID as well and a copy of the Court findings.)
But if the DMV finds against the defendant, then his/her license will be suspended for 90 days for a first-time DUI, 1 year for a second-time DUI, or 3 years for a subsequent DUI. However, it may be possible for the defendant to get a "restricted" license allowing him/her to drive to and from certain places once half of the suspension period is completed:
"Restricted"Licenses in Nevada DUI cases
The Nevada DMV may allow people whose driver's licenses are suspended for DUI to get "restricted" licenses once the suspension is half complete. For example, a first-time DUI defendant whose license is suspended for 90 days may be able to get a restricted license after 45 days have passed.
Like it sounds, a "restricted" driver's license is more restricted than a permanent license. At most, it allows the DUI defendant to drive to and from work, school, court-ordered child visitation, the doctor, and the grocery store.
Process for retrieving a restricted license in Nevada
A Nevada resident with a suspended license due to a DUI must complete the following steps to apply for a restricted license from the DMV:
- The person should contact the Nevada DMV in Carson City by dialing 1-877-368-7828 and then pressing options 6, 2 and 3. The person then needs to provide his/her driver's license number to the agent. At that point, the person should ask the agent if it is necessary to get a SR 22 form from his/her insurance company in order to get a restricted license. (It probably will be necessary.)
- If the DMV agent confirms that the person needs an SR 22 form, he/she should contact his/her car insurance company and get a SR 22 form. (Learn more about how Nevada DUIs affect car insurance.)
- The person 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.
- The person then waits to hear from the DMV. Note that the DMV will verify the information on the restricted license application with the person's employer. If the DMV approves the application, the person may then return to a FULL SERVICE DMV with valid ID to get the restricted license.
Note that a first-time DUI defendant serving a 90-day license suspension should submit the application exactly 30 days into the suspension. That way the DMV has time to process the application before the suspension period is half over.
Arrested for DUI? 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.