Nevada residents facing a driver’s license suspension or revocation are entitled to an administrative DMV hearing to fight to keep their license. DMV hearings are like small-scale civil trials where the license-holder’s attorney may present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
There are many reasons that trigger a license suspension or revocation in Nevada, including:
- getting a DUI
- racking up traffic tickets (at least 12 demerit points within a year)
- not maintaining auto insurance
- not paying child support
- using graffiti
- not properly securing a child in a vehicle
- various juvenile offenses, including habitual truancy
And because state DMV offices share information with each other, even out-of-state residents may face a license suspension in their home state for an alleged traffic violation in Nevada.
But an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer may be able to save the defendant’s driver’s license by getting the underlying criminal charge reduced or dismissed.
This article summarizes how Nevada’s license suspension and revocation laws work and ways to avoid it. Specifically, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is a license suspension or revocation in Nevada?
- 2. What are the grounds?
- 3. How do I fight it?
- 4. What if I live out of state?
- 5. How do I reinstate my license?
- 6. What if I move from Nevada to another state?
- 7. What if I move from out-of-state to Nevada?
- 8. What if I drive with a suspended or revoked license?
- 9. Does it show up on background checks?
- 10. Can I get a restricted license?
1. What is a license suspension or revocation in Nevada?
Like it sounds, a suspended or revoked license is when the Nevada DMV temporarily cancels a person’s driving privileges. Once the suspension or revocation period has elapsed, the driver may petition the DMV to reinstate the license.
2. What are the grounds?
Two of the most common reasons for a Nevada driver’s license suspension or revocation are 1) a DUI arrest, and 2) accruing 12 or more demerit points.
2.1. DUI license revocations
There is a mandatory license revocation period for driving under the influence. The length of the revocation depends on the specific DUI charge:
|DUI offense||Length of Nevada driver’s license revocation|
|1st DUI||185 days (restricted license may be available after 90 days)|
|2nd DUI (within 7 years)||1 year |
(No restricted license is available.)
|Felony DUI, including a 3rd DUI (within 7 years) and DUI causing injury or death||3 years, but a restricted license is available after 1 year|
Note that DMV proceedings are separate from criminal court proceedings in Nevada DUI cases. Even if the criminal case gets dismissed or the defendant gets acquitted at trial, the DMV can still revoke the defendant’s license if his/her blood alcohol level was .08 or higher.1
2.2. Demerit point license suspensions
A Nevada driver who racks up twelve (12) or more demerits in a year’s time faces a license suspension of six (6) months or more.2
Most moving traffic violations cause a predetermined number of demerit points to go on the person’s license for a year:3
|Nevada traffic offense||Demerit Points|
|Hit & Run||6|
|Following too closely||4|
|Failure to yield right-of-way||4|
|Passing a school bus when signals are flashing||4|
|Failure to yield to a pedestrian||4|
|Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign||4|
|Driving too slowly||2|
|Failure to dim headlights||2|
|Speeding 1-10 mph over limit||1|
|Speeding 11-20 mph over limit||2|
|Speeding 21-30 mph over limit||3|
|Speeding 31-40 mph over limit||4|
|Speeding 41 mph and over limit||5|
Even though demerit points disappear from a person’s driver’s license after a year, the underlying traffic violation remains on the defendant’s criminal record unless the case gets sealed.4
Note that it may be possible to remove up to three (3) demerit points by doing Traffic School.5 See the list of Nevada DMV-approved traffic schools.
2.3. Other reasons for Nevada license suspensions and revocations
The following actions will cause the Nevada DMV to suspend or revoke the defendant’s driver’s license for some period of time:
|Nevada Offense||Driver’s license suspension or revocation period|
|Street racing||6 months to 2 years6|
|Not paying child support||Depends on the case7|
|Failure to maintain SR-22 insurance||Until the driver gets SR-22 insurance8|
|Using graffiti||6 months to 2 years (1 – 2 years for juveniles)9|
|No liability insurance, and the defendant had an accident causing bodily injury or property damages in excess of $750||Depends on the case10|
|No car insurance||Until the driver gets insurance11|
|Perjury or making a false affidavit to the DMV||1 year12|
|Missing a court appearance||Depends on the case13|
|Failure to properly secure a child in a car (third or subsequent offense)||30 days to 180 days14|
|Juveniles using or possessing alcohol or drugs||90 days to 2 years15|
|Habitual truancy (first offense)||30 days to 6 months16|
|Juveniles using firearms||Up to 1 year for a first offense17|
3. How do I fight it?
Once the defendant receives notice of the license suspension or revocation, he/she usually has seven (7) days to request a Nevada DMV Hearing to contest it. The driver is then allowed to continue driving pending the outcome of the hearing.
For example: In DUI cases, defendants who fail the DUI breath test get notice of their license revocation immediately; therefore, the seven-day period to request a DMV hearing starts right away. But defendants who take the DUI blood test get to keep their license pending the blood test results, which may take months to come back. The seven-day period does not start until the DMV notifies them by mail that they failed the blood test.
A DMV hearing is a small-scale administrative proceeding where — similar to a trial — the defense attorney can present evidence and arguments and question witnesses. DMV hearings are traditionally harder to win than criminal trials because the state has a much lower burden of proof in DMV hearings.
If the defendant wins the DMV hearing, he/she may continue driving. If the state wins, the DMV will notify the defendant of the length and dates of his/her license suspension or revocation.18
4. What if I live out of state?
The Nevada DMV informs defendants’ home state DMVs when and why their driving privileges were suspended in Nevada. Then the home state DMV will usually impose the same penalty that it would have if the defendant committed the offense in the home state.
Most states abide by the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, where all DMVs agree to share information and penalize their license holders accordingly.19
For example: If a San Francisco resident gets arrested for driving drunk in Reno, the Nevada DMV will tell the California DMV about the arrest. The California DMV will then probably suspend the defendant’s California driver’s license, which is what the California DMV would do had the defendant got arrested for DUI in California.20
All non-Nevada residents arrested or cited for a traffic matter in Nevada should consult with a lawyer in their home state about how their case will affect their driver’s license.
5. How do I reinstate my license?
It depends on the type of case. Sometimes the driver has to take a written or vision test. DUI defendants have to get an ignition interlock device installed. And all drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked for more than a year have to take a driving skills test. Either way, it is the responsibility of the driver (or driver’s lawyer) to contact the DMV and fill out the proper paperwork.21
For specific instructions call the Nevada DMV headquarters at 775 684-4368. Note that drivers still have to go through the reinstatement process even if he/she gets cleared of all criminal charges.
See our related article, How do I reinstate a revoked license in Nevada?
6. What if I move from Nevada to another state?
If someone with a suspended Nevada driver’s license moves to another state, he/she still has to pay a reinstatement fee and earn clearance in Nevada before getting a license in the new home state.
Call the Nevada DMV headquarters at 775 684-4368 for more information. Any payments can be made by credit card using the Processing Center Payment Authorization (NVL-007).
7. What if I move from out-of-state to Nevada?
New Nevada residents with suspended licenses in other states have to get their old licenses reinstated before they can get Nevada licenses. They should contact their state’s DMVs for reinstatement procedures.
8. What happens if I drive with a suspended or revoked license?
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum sentence is:
- six (6) months in jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines
9. Does it show up on background checks?
No. This is because license suspensions and revocations are civil, not criminal matters. However, the underlying criminal charge that led to the license suspension or revocation will show up in background checks. Learn about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.
10. Can I get a restricted license?
Possibly. People with suspended or revoked licenses may call the Nevada DMV at 775-684-4364 to learn whether and when they may get a restricted license. Also refer to the Nevada DMV restricted license application.
For example in Nevada DUI cases, a restricted license may be available depending on the specific charge and if the defendant gets an ignition interlock device installed:
|Nevada DUI offense||Waiting time to get a Restricted License|
|DUI 1st||90 days into 185-day revocation|
|DUI 2nd||No restricted license is available.|
|DUI 3rd or DUI causing injury or death||1 year into 3-year revocation.|
In non-DUI cases, it may be possible to get a restricted license when half of the person’s suspension or revocation period has passed. So if a defendant is given a one (1) year license suspension for using graffiti, the defendant may be eligible for a restricted license after six (6) months.23
At most, restricted licenses allow the license-holder to drive to and from:
- medical providers,
- the supermarket, and/or
- court-ordered child visitation
Every restricted license has a different scope, though, which is tailored to the particular license-holder’s needs. (Also refer to our article about medically-restricted licenses in Nevada.)24
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
If you are facing license suspension or revocation due to an NRS DUI violation, traffic ticket, lapsed insurance, or other reason, call Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers. We may be able to request a DMV hearing and/or negotiate a favorable resolution to safeguard your driving privileges.
Licensed to drive in California? Read our informational article on driver’s license suspensions after a DUI in California.
Licensed to drive in Colorado? Read our informational article on driver’s license suspensions after a DUI in Colorado.
- NRS 483.460.
- NRS 483.473.
- NAC 483.510.
- NRS 483.473.
- NRS 483.475.
- NRS 484B.653.
- NRS 483.443.
- NRS 485.3075.
- NRS 206.330; NRS 62E.690.
- NRS 485.190.
- NRS 485.326
- NRS 483.460.
- NRS 483.465.
- NRS 484B.157.
- NRS 62E.630.
- NRS 62E.430.
- NRS 62E.650.
- NRS 483.360.
- Nevada is not actually part of the Interstate Driver License Compact, but it acts as it is. See Nevada Center for Interstate Compacts and Non-resident Violator Compact.
- California Vehicle Code 13352.
- License suspensions & revocations, Nevada DMV.
- NRS 483.560.
- NRS 483.490.
- NRS 483.460; NRS 483.360.