In Nevada, a fourth-offense DUI is a category B felony that carries 2 to 15 years in prison, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and a three-year driver’s license suspension. Moreover, the judge is precluded from granting probation in lieu of state prison.
This is the case even:
- if the incident caused no injuries or
- if the prior convictions for driving under the influence occurred in other states.
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the penalty for a fourth-DUI in Nevada?
- 2. Why is the punishment so harsh?
- 3. Can defendants do DUI Court instead of prison?
- 4. What if a fourth DUI causes an injury?
- 5. What if a fourth DUI causes a death?
- 6. Can the charges be reduced or dismissed?
- 7. Will immigrant defendants be deported?
- 8. When can defendants seal a fourth DUI from their record?
1. What is the penalty for a fourth DUI in Nevada?
A fourth conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a category B felony. The punishment includes:
- 2 to 15 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- Fines of $2,000 to $5,000, and
- 3-year driver’s license revocation by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) following prison
The judge may not grant probation instead of a prison sentence. It does not matter if the prior convictions of drunk driving or drugged driving were from other states. It also does not matter if the current DUI incident caused no injuries.1
Note that judges will likely choose a sentence on the higher end of the penalty range if the defendant was transporting a child younger than 15 years old at the time of DUI.2
2. Why is the punishment so harsh?
In Nevada, it is an automatic felony when a person commits a third DUI within seven years of the first. And once a defendant has that felony conviction for a DUI 3rd on his/her record, any subsequent DUIs are automatically prosecuted as felonies as well. And it makes no difference if the fourth DUI occurs more than seven years after the prior cases.3 The saying among prosecutors is, “Once a felon, always a felon.”
3. Can defendants do DUI Court instead of prison?
No. Only certain DUI 3rd defendants are eligible for Felony DUI Court, which is an alternative sentencing treatment program where participants do intensive rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration.4
4. What if a fourth DUI causes an injury?
Prosecutors bring charges for DUI causing injury (NRS 484C.430) whenever a suspected drunk/drugged driving case causes someone other than the driver substantial bodily harm. It does not matter whether the defendant has prior convictions for driving under the influence.
Drunk driving causing injury is a category B felony, carrying:
- 2 to 20 years in prison;
- Fines of $2,000 to $5,000; and
- 3-year driver’s license revocation by the DMV following prison
If the defendant has prior DUI convictions, the judge will likely impose a penalty near the higher end of the sentencing range.5
5. What if a fourth DUI causes a death?
Prosecutors bring charges for vehicular homicide (NRS 484C.440) following a fatal drunk driving accident if the defendant has three prior DUI convictions. It makes no difference how long ago those three convictions occurred or which states they were in.
Vehicular homicide is a category A felony. The judge may impose either:
- 25 years in prison (with the possibility of parole after 10 years), or
- Life in prison (with the possibility of parole after 10 years)6
Note that vehicular homicide is an entirely separate offense from vehicular manslaughter (NRS 484B.657). Vehicular manslaughter is when a sober driver’s negligence causes a fatal accident.
6. Can the charges be reduced or dismissed?
There are various ways DUI lawyers can fight drunk driving charges under Nevada law. Ten possible defenses include:
- The police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make the initial traffic stop.
- The police officer did not administer the field sobriety test correctly.
- The breath test or blood test equipment was defective.
- The breathalyzer had not been calibrated recently.
- The person who administered the chemical tests was not certified.
- The chemical tests were administered too long after the arrest.
- The defendant did not begin drinking or taking drugs until after being pulled over.
- The defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was legal while he/she was driving, and rising blood alcohol caused an illegal BAC result during the chemical tests later on.
- The defendant suffered from a medical condition that caused inaccurately high blood alcohol concentration levels, such as GERD.
- The law enforcement officers committed misconduct, such as coercing a confession.
7. Will immigrant defendants be deported?
It depends on the case. Driving under the influence of alcohol is usually not deportable. But if the driver was intoxicated from illegal controlled substances, then prosecutors may have legal grounds to bring deportation proceedings.7
In any case, non-citizens charged with a crime are strongly advised to hire an attorney immediately. Getting the charges reduced or dismissed may be the only way for the defendant to stay in the U.S.
8. When can defendants seal a 4th DUI from their record?
Felony DUI offense convictions may never be sealed from the defendant’s criminal record in Nevada. But if the charge was dismissed, it may be possible to petition for a record seal right away.8 Learn more about Nevada DUI record seals.
Our DUI defense attorneys assist clients throughout the state of Nevada, from Las Vegas and Henderson to Reno and Carson City. Our criminal defense lawyers can meet
- in person,
- over the phone, or
- through video conference.
Also see our articles on
In California? See our article on 4th-time driving under the influence cases.
In Colorado? See our article on 4th-time driving under the influence cases.
- NRS 484C.410; NRS 483.460; see also Chapman v. State (2002) 118 Nev. 178, 42 P.3d 264.
- NRS 484C.410; see also Lader v. Warden (2005) 121 Nev. 682, 120 P.3d 1164.
- Id.; Note that a first DUI and a second DUI in a seven-year period are misdemeanors as long as no one gets hurt. A first-time offense usually carries no jail as long as the defendant completes all the other terms. A second DUI (subsequent offense within seven years) carries mandatory jail time of 10 days. Other penalties include some hours of community service, DUI School, fines with court costs, and a victim impact panel. Defendants may be able to regain driving privileges with a restricted license and an ignition interlock device.
- NRS 484C.340.
- NRS 484C.430.
- NRS 484C.440.
- 8 USC 1227.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.