Nevada DUI laws prohibit driving under the influence of methamphetamine. Even if the driver is not impaired, operating a motor vehicle with a blood meth level of 100 nanograms per ml. qualifies as drugged driving.
A first-time offense of DUI of meth with no serious injuries is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, DUI School, a Victim Impact Panel, a 185-day license revocation, and up to six months in jail (which is usually suspended).
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is DUI of methamphetamine in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties?
- 3. Will I lose my license?
- 4. How can criminal defense lawyers fight DUI of meth charges?
- 5. Can I get deported?
- 6. How long before I can seal the record?
1. What is DUI of methamphetamine in Nevada?
Nevada law prohibits driving a motor vehicle while either:
- the driver has ingested meth “to a degree which renders [the driver] incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle”; or
- the driver’s blood contains 100 nanograms per ml. of meth; or
- the driver’s urine contains 500 nanograms per ml. of meth.
Therefore, drivers do not have to be “high” to be convicted of DUI of meth. So long as their blood or urine contains illegal meth levels, drivers are DUI even if there is no impairment.1
When police officers pull over DUI suspects, they will ask them to take a preliminary breath test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC).2 If the drivers pass the test but still seem impaired, the police may then suspect that they are driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) instead of alcohol.
The following symptoms may tip off a policeman trained in drug recognition evaluation (DRE) that a driver is under the influence of methamphetamine:
- motor restlessness and lack of coordination
- violence, aggression, nervousness, restlessness
- palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- increased heart rate, blood pressure, or respiration rate
- light sensitivity
Anyone who drives in Nevada is presumed to have given implied consent to take a blood test or urine test following a DUI meth arrest. If a driver in Nevada refuses to submit to a DUI chemical test, the police may obtain a warrant and use reasonable force to administer a blood draw.3
2. What are the penalties?
The Nevada punishment for driving under the influence of drugs such as methamphetamine is the same as that for drunk driving. The sentence increases with each successive conviction.
DUI of meth case
Penalties in Nevada
|Third- or subsequent DUI||Category B felony:
|DUI causing injury or death (NRS 484C.430)||Category B felony:
If the case involved a fatality and the driver has already been convicted of DUI three or more times, then the charge will instead be for vehicular homicide. A conviction carries 25 years or a life sentence in prison, with the possibility of parole after 10 years.4
In many DUI cases, judges permit defendants who cannot afford to pay their fine to instead perform the equivalent hours of community service.
Note that DUI suspects found with meth in their possession face additional charges for possession of illegal drugs (NRS 453.336).
3. Will I lose my license?
DUI meth defendants get to keep their driver’s license until the Nevada DMV mails them a letter informing them that their license will be revoked due to failing the blood test. The defendant then has seven days to request a DMV hearing, which is like a mini-trial to contest the driver’s license suspension.
At that point, the only way that DUI meth defendants can keep their driver’s license is to win both the criminal case and the DMV administrative hearing. Winning one and not the other will still trigger a license suspension.
Note that DUI defendants who request a DMV hearing can continue driving pending the results of the hearing. In many cases, the DMV hearing does not occur for several weeks until after the arrest. Meanwhile, DUI defendants who opt not to request a DMV hearing will have their license revoked on the date specified in the DMV letter.
A first offense DUI carries a 185-day license revocation, but defendants can usually continue driving with an ignition interlock device in their car. A second offense DUI carries a 1-year license revocation. And a third offense DUI carries a 3- year driver’s license revocation.5
4. How can criminal defense lawyers fight DUI of meth charges?
Seven common defenses to DUI of meth charges in Nevada include:
- The police did not have reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.
- The police did not have probable cause to effectuate a DUI arrest of the defendant.
- The law enforcement officer gave incorrect field sobriety test instructions.
- Too much time elapsed between the arrest and the blood test.
- The blood test samples became contaminated.
- The lab techs let their certification lapse.
- The defendant suffered from a medical episode that mimicked being high.
5. Can I get deported?
DUI is usually not a deportable crime. But if the defendant was in the possession of drugs, non-citizen defendants may be vulnerable to deportation.6 Any immigrant facing criminal charges should consult with a lawyer immediately to try to get the charges reduced to a non-deportable offense.
6. How long before I can seal the record?
Misdemeanor DUI convictions in Nevada must remain on defendants’ criminal records for seven years before they can petition the court for a record seal. And felony DUI convictions are unsealable. But if DUI charges get dismissed, then defendants can petition for a record seal immediately.7
- NRS 484C.110. Other prohibited substances the statute mentions includes amphetamine, cocaine, cocaine metabolite, marijuana, marijuana metabolite, lysergic acid diethylamide, heroine, heroine metabolite, and phencyclidine. See also Whisler v. State, (2005) 121 Nev. 401, 116 P.3d 59, 121 Nev. Adv. Rep. 40. See also State v. Jones, (1995) 111 Nev. 774, 895 P.2d 643, 111 Nev. Adv. Rep. 76.
- NRS 484C.150.
- NRS 484C.160.
- NRS 484C.400; NRS 484C.430; NRS 483.460.
- NRS 483.460.
- 8 USC 1227.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.