A second-offense DUI in Nevada is still treated as a misdemeanor, but it carries more severe penalties than a first offense. These penalties include jail time ranging from 10 days to 6 months and fines ranging from $750 to $1000. In addition, if convicted you will be required to attend a MADD victim impact panel and install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you operate for at least 6 months
Nevada law defines a 2nd DUI as a new DUI arrest that occurs within seven years of a first DUI arrest.
In many cases, it is possible to get the DUI reduced to reckless driving or even dismissed.
In this article, our attorneys will answer the top 10 questions of people facing second-offense DUI charges in Nevada.
1. Can I go to jail for a DUI-second in Nevada?
Yes, a DUI-2nd conviction carries a “minimum mandatory” 10-day jail sentence. The court may order up to six months behind bars, but anything more than 10 days is rare unless you were transporting a child under 15 at the time.
The judge can allow you to serve the 10-day sentence intermittently so that you do not have to miss work, though each period of confinement must be no less than 48 consecutive hours. In certain cases, you may be able to serve some of the 10 days in residential confinement at home.1
Typically, judges impose a six-month suspended jail sentence. This means you will not have to serve more than 10 days in jail as long as you complete all the other probation terms and stay out of trouble while the case is open.
2. Will I lose my license? How soon? And for how long?
A DUI-2nd carries a one-year driver’s license suspension in Nevada.2 The only way to avoid a suspension is to win both the criminal case and the administrative DMV hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The DMV hearing – which is like a mini-trial – is actually harder to win than the criminal case. Criminal prosecutors have the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Though the DMV requires much less evidence to prove that you drove with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
Note that if you elect to take a breath test after being arrested, you get a temporary license good for seven days. If you request a DMV hearing during that week, you can continue driving pending the results of the DMV hearing. Otherwise, the license suspension begins on the seventh day.
Meanwhile, if you elect to take a blood test, you can continue driving until the lab results come back – which may take weeks. Then you will receive a letter in the mail from the DMV giving you seven days to request a DMV hearing. Otherwise, the suspension will begin after the seventh day.3
After the one-year period of suspension ends, you must maintain SR-22 insurance for three years in order to reinstate and keep your driving privileges.4 You will also have to pay a $121 license reinstatement fee and a $35 Victims Compensation Civil Penalty.5
See our related article on refusing to take a breath- or blood- chemical test, which also carries a one-year license suspension.6 And see our article on commercial driver DUIs, where a second DUI results in a permanent CDL revocation.7
3. Will I have to do rehab?
NRS 484C.400 requires DUI-2nd defendants to take an alcohol and drug dependency evaluation. This “DUI Assessment Program” costs $100. Depending on the results, defendants may have to complete up to one year of clinical supervision by a treatment facility.
In practice however, nearly all DUI-2nd offenses are pled down to what’s called “first for sentencing, second for enhancement.” So you get the lesser DUI-1st penalties, but a DUI-2nd goes on your record. That way if you get arrested for another DUI within seven years of your original DUI, you’d face a DUI-3rd charge.
By following the “first in sentencing, second for enhancement” plea, you avoid having to get an evaluation entirely (unless your BAC is .18 or higher). Though if an evaluation is done, it is exceedingly rare that additional requirements are not recommended: The judge typically orders 18 weeks of AA or group therapy. Depending on the severity of the BAC or history, more requirements can be ordered.8
4. What if I cannot afford the fine?
Nevada judges may allow you to perform a certain number of hours of community service in lieu of the fine. One hour of public service equals $10 in fines.9
5. How long will I need the ignition interlock device for a DUI-2nd?
If your BAC was under 0.18%, then you must drive with the IID for at least 185 days. Otherwise, the judge will order the IID for 12 to 36 months.10
6. What counts as a prior DUI?
Any previous DUI conviction in the U.S. counts as a prior as long as the arrest occurred within seven years of the current Nevada case. So if an earlier DUI charge was dismissed or reduced to reckless driving, then it would not count as a prior offense.11
Note that people who plead guilty (or no contest) to a DUI-2nd in Nevada must sign an “admonishment of rights” form. It explains how drunk driving “priorable” offense, and that the penalties for a third-time DUI will be even harsher than for a second DUI.
7. What if my prior DUI was a felony?
People with a prior felony DUI conviction who get arrested again for DUI automatically face another felony charge. It does not matter if the current drunk driving case caused no injuries, or if the prior DUI arrest was more than seven years earlier.12 The saying in Nevada is, “Once a felon, always a felon.”
8. How do I fight the charges?
Just eighteen of the many available drunk driving defenses that Nevada DUI attorneys use are:
- There was no reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop, to begin with.
- The police gave improper instructions for the field sobriety tests.
- You failed the walk and turn test and one-leg stand test for non-alcohol-related reasons, such as bad shoes, a physical injury, flashing traffic lights, or an uneven road.
- Law enforcement did not have probable cause to make an arrest.
- You had medical conditions that caused an inaccurately high BAC level, such as auto-brewery syndrome.
- You had medical conditions that made you seem intoxicated, such as a diabetic episode.
- The breath- or blood testing equipment was faulty.
- The breath- or blood samples were contaminated.
- The lab techs who calibrated the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN breathalyzer let their certification lapse.
- You had rising blood alcohol. This means your blood alcohol content was legal at the time of the driving but rose to illegal levels later during the chemical blood test.
- You were never in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.13
- Police interrogated you after your arrest without reading you your Miranda rights.
- You were stopped at an illegal checkpoint.
- Your breath test was taken two hours after the arrest.
- You started drinking after you stopped driving.
- The eyewitnesses are unreliable or not available to give testimony.
- The car was legally parked, the engine was off, no key was in the ignition, and you were sleeping in the backseat.
- You acted out of necessity or due to an emergency situation, and your actions were reasonable under the circumstances.
The most effective methods for fighting drunk driving charges always turn on the facts of the case. Typical evidence criminal defense attorneys rely on includes witness testimony, video footage, medical records, and testimony by expert witnesses.
Most DUI cases resolve through a plea bargain, but you always have the option of going to trial. However, since a DUI-2nd is only a misdemeanor, you may have just a bench trial – where the judge determines the verdict – and not a jury trial. In practice, juries are more likely to hand down a “not guilty” verdict than judges are.14
9. Can I do DUI Court instead of jail?
Possibly! Doing Misdemeanor DUI Court – an intensive rehabilitation program – requires you to serve five days of jail time rather than 10 days. If you complete the program successfully, the DUI conviction should be reduced to a less serious offense like reckless driving.
Also called the Moderate Offenders Program, Misdemeanor DUI Court costs about $4,500. Just some of the terms include wearing a SCRAM alcohol-detection anklet and serving 90 days of house arrest.15
10. Can I get my criminal record sealed?
Yes. DUI-second convictions can be sealed from your criminal record seven years after the case closes. If the DUI gets reduced to reckless driving (NRS 484B.653), the wait-time is only one year after the case closes. If the charge gets dismissed, then you can petition the court right away for a record seal.16
Learn how to seal Nevada DUI criminal records.
See our related articles on drunk driving penalties and underage DUI in Nevada.
Arrested in California? See our article on DUI 2nd in California.
Arrested in Colorado? See our article on DUI 2nd in Colorado.
- NRS 484C.400.
- NRS 484C.210. See also State v. Terracin, (2009) 125 Nev. 31, 199 P.3d 835.
- NAC 484C.894; NRS 484C.230; see NRS 484C.110.
- NRS 483.525.
- See Nevada DMV License Suspensions and Revocations.
- NRS 484C.210
- 49 CFR §383.51.
- NRS 484C.350; NRS 484C.360.
- See Community Service Program FAQ, Las Vegas Justice Court.
- NRS 484C.460. Another term for IID is breath interlock device (BID).
- NRS 484C.400. See also State v. Second Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., (2018) 421 P.3d 803, 134 Nev. Adv. Rep. 50.
- NRS 484C.410.
- Assembly Bill 67 (2015), defining “actual physical control.”
- See NRS 484C.420.
- NRS 484C.330.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255