People convicted of a misdemeanor-level DUI in Nevada can apply for a record seal seven (7) years after the case ends. But people convicted of a felony DUI in Nevada may never get their record sealed.
DUI offense in Nevada
Record seal wait time
|Felony DUI: ||May never be sealed|
|Misdemeanor DUI: ||7 years after the case ends|
|Misdemeanor Reckless Driving||1 year after the case ends|
|Dismissal of the DUI charge (no conviction)||No wait time|
Definition of DUI in Nevada
DUI is short for driving under the influence. It encompasses any of the following illegal behaviors:
- driving while impaired by alcohol;
- driving while impaired by drugs, including marijuana;
- driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, whether or not the driver is impaired; or
- driving with an illegal amount of drugs in the driver’s system, whether or not the driver is impaired
Driving under the influence can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on whether the defendant has prior DUIs and whether the DUI caused an injury or death.
Sealing a misdemeanor DUI in Nevada
There are two types of DUIs in Nevada that are prosecuted as misdemeanors:
- a DUI that caused no serious injuries, and the defendant had no other DUIs within the previous seven years;
- a second DUI within seven years of the first misdemeanor DUI, and the incident caused no serious injuries
People convicted of either a first- or second-time misdemeanor DUI must wait seven (7) years before petitioning the court for a record seal. Note that the DUI record does not automatically disappear after seven years: The defendant has to actively apply for a seal.
The record seal process itself takes several weeks if not months. The procedure involves:
- obtaining a recent printout of the defendant’s police record (called a SCOPE);
- composing a petition to seal the record;
- submitting the petition to the relevant prosecutor;
- if the prosecutor signs off on the petition, submitting the petition and an “order to seal” to the relevant court;
- if the judge grants the petition, mailing the signed “order to seal” to all government agencies that have records of the DUI conviction; and
- following up with the agencies to ensure that they complied with the “order to seal”
Defendants are advised to hire an attorney to handle all the paperwork.
Note that most other Nevada crimes that are prosecuted as misdemeanors can be sealed after only one or two years. But Nevada law imposes a lengthier record seal waiting period for DUI to serve as a drunk driving deterrent.
Sealing a felony DUI in Nevada
There are four types of DUIs in Nevada that are prosecuted as felonies:
- a third DUI within seven years of the defendant’s first DUI, and the incident caused no injuries;
- any DUI a defendant gets following a prior felony DUI conviction whether or not the current incident injured anyone;
- any DUI that causes substantial bodily harm or death;
- vehicular homicide (a fatal DUI following three prior DUIs)
Felony DUIs stay on a defendant’s criminal record forever. There is no way to seal felony-level DUIs in Nevada.
People with felony DUI convictions may apply for a Nevada Governor’s Pardon, but pardons serve different purposes than record seals: Pardons are meant to publicly “forgive” the defendant for the crime and to restore their civil rights. Pardons do not seal the record from public view. Furthermore, pardons are very difficult to get.
Sealing reckless driving convictions in Nevada
It may be possible for a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney to get a misdemeanor-level DUI charge changed to a reckless driving charge. The waiting-time to apply for a reckless driving record seal is only one (1) year after the case ends. That is six years sooner than the waiting period to get a misdemeanor DUI sealed.
Sealing a DUI case that gets dismissed in Nevada
There are two scenarios when a drunk or drugged driving charge gets dismissed in Nevada:
- the prosecutors dismiss the case as part of a plea bargain or after realizing they do not have enough evidence to sustain a conviction; and
- the case goes to trial, and the defendant is acquitted
Whenever a DUI charge gets dismissed, the defendant can pursue a seal of the arrest record right away. It makes no difference if the charge was for a misdemeanor or a felony.
People who succeed in having their charges dismissed are advised to try to get the arrest record sealed as soon as possible. Even though their record shows only an arrest and not a conviction, an arrest still looks bad to potential employers. And as discussed earlier, the record seal process itself takes several weeks or months.
Record seals versus expungements
Nevada law offers only record seals, not record expungements. An expungement is when a record is physically destroyed so there is no trace left of it.
In contrast, a record seal does not erase criminal records; instead, it shields a person’s criminal record from public view so it no longer appears on background checks.
Although sealed records are invisible to most people, they may be visible to certain agencies such as the Nevada Gaming Control Board and insurance companies. And people applying for certain professional licenses are expected to disclose their criminal record whether it was sealed or not.
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