If no one gets hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident in Las Vegas, the driver will probably face only misdemeanor charges in Nevada that carry up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But if someone does suffer injury or death, the state will bring serious felony DUI charges that carry up to 20 years in prison. Scroll down for the definition, defenses, and penalties for DUI with injury or death in Nevada.
Definition (NRS 484C.430)
The legal definition of DUI causing injury or death in Nevada applies when an intoxicated or high driver “proximately causes the death of, or substantial bodily harm to, another person.”
In other words, someone can be charged with this crime in Nevada when their alleged drunk driving causes an accident in which another person gets seriously hurt or killed.
Even if the driver does not seem like they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can still be arrested for violating “DUI causing injury or death in Nevada” laws as long as their BAC is .08 or above.
Note that defendants in fatal DUI cases may not be prosecuted for murder.1
Note that vehicles involved in Nevada DUI cases are usually impounded. Read more about Nevada DUI impound laws.
Getting arrested for DUI with injury or DUI with death in Nevada is extremely frightening. But remember: you are presumed innocent and that the prosecutor may be unable to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Standard defenses that drunk driving defense attorneys often employ in serious or fatal drunk driving cases are:
- The driver had not been drinking or did not start drinking until after he/she stopped driving the car. If the prosecutor cannot prove that the driving was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this charge should be dismissed or else reduced to something like reckless driving.
- The breath testing equipment was faulty or the police committed misconduct which hampered the results. Raising doubt about the accuracy of the BAC reading can be very effective in getting the case dismissed.
- The fatality or physical harm was not caused by the driving. Charges for DUI with death or injury in Las Vegas cannot hold up in court if our client’s driving was not the actual cause of the accident. We often bring in experts to reconstruct the accident scene to show that our client is not the one at fault.
Penalties (NRS 484C.430)
DUI causing injury or death in Las Vegas is a category B felony, carrying a punishment of:
- 2 to 20 years in Nevada State Prison,
- maybe a fine of $2,000 to $5,000, and
- possible 3 year license suspension or revocation, and
- a requirement to install a Nevada ignition interlock device as a condition of reinstating driving privileges
If a person who was found guilty of DUI causing injuries in Nevada was also transporting a child under fifteen years old at the time of the alleged violation, the court may consider it an “aggravating factor” when determining the length of the prison sentence and any fines.
The Nevada Department of Prisons will make an effort to segregate people convicted of driving drunk from violent offenders and to house them in minimum-security facilities.
If the criminal defense attorney in a Las Vegas DUI with death or injury case can convince the prosecutors that their evidence may be too weak to support a conviction, the prosecutors may agree to dismiss the charge or else reduce it to a lesser one such as:
- Reckless Driving in Nevada: Driving recklessly is the willful or wanton disregard of others while operating a vehicle. This non-DUI offense may be charged as a felony if it allegedly caused death or substantial injury. The prison range for felony reckless driving in Nevada is one to six years.
- Vehicular Manslaughter in Nevada: This offense punishes “negligent” driving that causes the death of another. Also a non-DUI related crime, vehicular manslaughter in Nevada is only a misdemeanor and carries up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
- Misdemeanor DUI: Driving drunk is only a misdemeanor in Las Vegas when the prosecutor cannot prove that it caused death or substantial injury. The standard sentence includes fines, Nevada DUI School, a victim impact panel, license suspension, and up to six months in jail (usually suspended).
A Clark County judge may not grant probation or suspended sentences in Las Vegas DUI with death or injury cases.
Calls us if you have been arrested for DUI . . .
If you have been arrested for DUI causing injury or DUI causing death in Nevada, call our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys for a free consultation. We may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed, and we will do everything to keep you out of prison and your record clean.
¿Habla español? Obtener información acerca de las leyes de DUI causando lesiones o la muerte de Nevada.
For information about California DUI murder laws, go to our article on California DUI murder laws. And for additional information about California DUI causing injury law, go to our page on California DUI causing injury law.
- Leavell v. Eighth Judicial District Court, No. 79923 (September 14, 2020); David Ferrara, Nevada Supreme Court prohibits murder charges in fatal DUI cases, Las Vegas Review-Journal (September 14, 2020); NRS 200.030.