Nevada DUI laws make it a crime to operate a motor vehicle:
- while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or
- with more than the legal limit of certain drugs in your blood (called DUI of drugs/DUID), or
- with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater within 2 hours of driving (called “per se” DUI).
The .08% BAC limit is reduced to
- 2 days to 6 months in jail or 48 to 96 hours of community service,
- $400 to $1,000 in fines,
- online DUI School,
- attending a Victim Impact Panel, and
- a 185-day driver’s license suspension.
Though you may continue driving immediately by installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your cars.
Subsequent DUIs (or DUIs causing substantial bodily harm) carry harsher sentences:
Nevada DUI offense
Nevada DUI Penalties
|DUI 2nd (in 7 years) – NRS 484C.400|| Misdemeanor: |
|DUI 3rd (in 7 years) – NRS 484C.400||Category B felony:|
|DUI causing injury or death – NRS 484C.430|| Category B felony: |
|DUI after felony DUI conviction – NRS 484C.410||Category B felony: |
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI lawyers will address the following:
- 1. Getting DUI reduced or dismissed
- 2. Getting a record seal
- 3. The 2-hour rule
- 4. The washout period
- 5. Refusing a breath or blood test
- 6. When a child is in the car
- Additional reading
NRS DUI statutes forbid prosecutors from reducing or dismissing DUI charges unless their case against you is weak.2 So our job is to show these prosecutors that their evidence has too many holes to hold up at trial.
Ideally, we can persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the drunk/drugged charge completely or else reduce the charge to reckless driving. There are various defenses, such as:
- The blood test or breath test was defective
- You were never in actual physical control of the vehicle
- The police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop
- Law enforcement did not have probable cause to make a DUI arrest
- The field sobriety tests were not administered in accordance with NHTSA guidelines (short for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Prosecutors have the high burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt should the case go to trial. As long as we can raise that reasonable doubt as to just one “element” of the crime, the government may be willing to drop the case.
1.1. “Sleeping DUIs”
A common case we see involves people who know they are too intoxicated to drive and decide to “sleep it off” through the night in their car. Then the police find and wake them, smell that they have been drinking, and arrest them for drunk driving even though they were not driving at all.
In these cases, prosecutors argue that these sleeping defendants:
- were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle even though they were not driving when they were found;
- were likely driving drunk before they decided to pull over and park; and
- can be convicted of DUI even though the police did not witness them driving like in typical drunk driving cases.
We have had great success in getting these “sleeping DUI” cases dismissed if we can show the following:
- When the police found you, you were not in the driver’s seat. Perhaps you were in the passenger seat or the backseat instead;
- The engine was off, and there was no key in the ignition;
- Your car was legally parked when the police found you; and
- There is evidence indicating that you did not drive the vehicle to that location while impaired.
It is also helpful to your case if your car was parked on private property, and the headlights were off.
Misdemeanor DUI convictions must remain on your Nevada criminal record for seven (7) years before you can petition the court for a record seal. Meanwhile, felony DUI convictions are unsealable: They remain on your record forever.
Note that any misdemeanor or felony DUI charge that gets dismissed can be sealed right away.3 Learn how to seal Nevada DUI records.
The two-hour rule in Nevada DUI cases refers to how courts can convict you of drunk driving if you fail an evidentiary breath or blood test within two hours of operating a motor vehicle. It does not matter if you were driving safely at the time.4
If you were tested after the two-hour window, the court can still consider the results as evidence. The results just will not carry as much weight.5
When Nevada prosecutors determine whether to charge you with a first, second, or subsequent drunk driving offense, they look back only seven years. Any misdemeanor DUIs you may have had more than seven years ago will not count against you.
This means that if you have been convicted of any misdemeanor DUIs within the last seven years, they will count as “priors” should you get arrested for driving under the influence again. It does not matter in which U.S. state or territory these past convictions occurred.
Note that this seven-year look-back period applies only to misdemeanor DUIs. Once you get convicted of felony DUI, any subsequent cases are automatically charged as felonies. It does not matter how long ago or where the original felony conviction occurred.
Nevada has an implied consent law. This means that by driving on Nevada roads, you must consent to an evidentiary breath or blood test following a DUI arrest.
If you refuse to take a breath or blood test following a DUI arrest, the officer can get a warrant to draw your blood by force. Then should your drunk driving case go to trial, prosecutors can use your refusal as evidence of your guilt.
The most important consequence of a chemical test refusal is that the DMV will suspend your license for one year even if you end up winning your criminal case. (If you have a prior refusal in the past seven years, the suspension will last three years.)
Nevada drinking and driving laws are harsher when there is a child under age 15 in the vehicle. For instance, the judge in a first-time drunk driving case may order the maximum fine of $1,000 instead of a lesser fine.6
For more information about Nevada DUI laws, see our related articles:
- DUI court process – a step-by-step guide of what to expect in your drunk driving criminal and DMV cases
- Violating DUI probation – an examination of the consequences of breaking the terms of your probation, including going to jail
- DUI checkpoints – a discussion of how Las Vegas police are now relying on “blitzes” rather than traditional checkpoints to catch drunk driving suspects
- Boating under the influence – an overview of Nevada’s laws, penalties, and defenses for the crime of driving a watercraft while intoxicated
- DUI and auto insurance – a discussion of how traffic violations can cause your insurance premiums to increase
- NRS 484C.110; NRS 484C.400; see also State v. Terracin, (2009) 125 Nev. 31, 199 P.3d 835, 125 Nev. Adv. Rep. 4, 2009; see also Sheriff, Clark County v. Burcham (2008) 124 Nev. 1247, 198 P.3d 326, 124 Nev. Adv. Rep. 101.
- NRS 484C.420 – .440.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- NRS 484C.110 (“It is unlawful for any person who…[i]s found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access.”).
- State v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev. (2021) 479 P.3d 1004.
- NRS 484C.400 – .440.