First-time Nevada DUI arrests trigger a 185-day license suspension, but in-state residents may still drive with an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle. The only way DUI defendants can avoid a license suspension is by winning both the 1) criminal case and 2) DMV hearing, which are separate proceedings. For non-Nevada residents, the license consequences vary by state.
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada DUI defense lawyers discuss:
- 1. How long will my license be suspended after a DUI in Nevada?
- 2. What if I refused to take the breath and blood test?
- 3. How soon does the license suspension start?
- 4. How can I keep my license?
- 5. How do I reinstate my license?
- 6. Can I drive while my license is revoked?
1. How long will my license be suspended after a DUI in Nevada?
The length of a DUI license revocation depends on the charge:
|DUI offense ||Length of Nevada driver’s license revocation|
|1st DUI in 7 years||185 days, though defendants can usually continue driving with an ignition interlock device. |
Learn more about DUI 1st revocations.
|2nd DUI in 7 years (including DUIs from other states)||1 year, and there is no way to resume driving earlier. |
Learn more about DUI 2nd revocations.
|Felony DUI, which includes:||3 years, though defendants can usually resume driving after one year with an ignition interlock device. |
Learn more about DUI 3rd revocations.1
2. What if I refused to take the breath and blood test?
Defendants who refuse a chemical test after a DUI arrest will have their license revoked for either:
- 1 year, if this is the first time the defendant has refused a chemical test in the last seven years; or
- 3 years, if the defendant has previously refused to submit to a chemical test in the prior seven years.
This suspension period for refusing to take a chemical test is in addition to the suspension period for the underlying DUI. For instance, a person who is arrested for a first-time DUI and refuses to take a chemical test faces a one-and-a-half-year license suspension: One year for not taking the test, and 185 days for the DUI-1st.2
Nevada law presumes that drivers give implied consent to submit to an evidentiary breath or blood test following a DUI arrest. Even if the DUI charges are eventually dropped, defendants who refused the test will still get their license suspended for the refusal.
3. How soon does the license suspension start?
It depends on whether the defendant took a breath test or blood test. Defendants who take a breath test after their DUI arrest have their license confiscated right way and are given a temporary permit good for seven days. In contrast, defendants who take a blood test keep their license until their test results come back by certified mail: Then they get a temporary permit good for seven days.
Either way, defendants have only seven days to request a DMV hearing to contest the license suspension once they receive their temporary permit. If they do not request a hearing, the license suspension begins once the temporary permit lapses. If they do request a hearing, defendants can continue driving pending the results of the DMV hearing weeks or months later.
A summary of these license suspension start times is in this table:
|DUI defendant||Start time of driver’s license revocation|
|Breath test with DMV hearing||Immediately if the DMV judge rules against the defendant|
|Breath test without DMV hearing||7 days after the DUI arrest|
|Blood test with DMV hearing||Immediately if the DMV judge rules against the defendant|
|Blood test without DMV hearing||7 days after the defendant receives the blood test results by certified mail|
Note that defendants who refused to take a chemical test – and are then forced to submit to a blood draw – get their license confiscated immediately and given a seven-day temporary permit. They can then request a DMV hearing to contest the suspension; otherwise, the year-long suspension kicks in once the temporary permit ends. This is separate from the suspension defendants may receive for the underlying DUI once their blood results come back. They can contest this suspension at a DMV hearing as well (as discussed in the prior paragraph).3
4. How can I keep my license?
As discussed in the prior section, DUI defendants may request a DMV hearing to contest their driver’s license suspension. DMV hearings are administrative trials where defendants – or their attorneys – may present evidence and arguments and cross-examine witnesses. Currently, most DMV hearings are conducted telephonically instead of at the DMV offices.
But note that DUI defendants must win both their DMV hearing as well as their criminal case to avoid a license suspension. Winning one and not the other will still trigger a suspension. Defendants are advised to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent them in both their criminal case and their DMV hearing.
In practice, DMV hearings are harder to win than criminal cases. This is because criminal cases require prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the DMV has a much lower burden of proof. But DMV hearings are still worth having: They often highlight issues and arguments defendants can use to their advantage during the criminal case.4
5. How do I reinstate my license?
Reinstatement of driving privileges is not automatic once the revocation period ends. The defendant must follow DMV reinstatement procedures and physically receive a new license in order to drive again legally. This includes purchasing SR-22 insurance to show proof of financial responsibility, which defendants then have to maintain for three years.5
6. Can I drive while my license is revoked?
Whether Nevada DUI defendants may drive during their suspension period depends on their specific charge:
|Nevada DUI offense||When defendants may resume driving|
|1st-time DUI||Right away with an ignition interlock device|
|2nd-time DUI||Not until the one-year-long suspensions is up|
|Any felony DUI, including 3rd-time DUI||After one year with an ignition interlock device6|
- Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines7
Note that as of 2018, DUI defendants are not eligible for restricted licenses.8
Arrested in California? Learn about DUI driver’s license suspensions in California.
Arrested in Colorado? Learn about DUI driver’s license suspensions in Colorado.
- NRS 483.460; State v. Terracin (2009) 125 Nev. 31, 199 P.3d 835, 125 Nev. Adv. Rep. 4; Department of Motor Vehicles & Pub. Safety v. Paul (1997) 113 Nev. 481, 936 P.2d 834, 113 Nev. Adv. Rep. 50.
- NRS 484C.210.
- NRS 484C.210; NRS 483.460.
- NAC 483.849
- Nevada DMV.
- NRS 483.460; NRS 483.490; Nevada Senate Bill 259 (2017).
- NRS 483.560.
- See Nevada DMV application for restricted license.