If you are arrested for DUI (or for refusing to take an evidentiary breath or blood test), you can no longer apply for a restricted license in Nevada. Instead, you may be able to continue driving immediately with an ignition interlock device.
You can still apply for a restricted license if your license gets revoked for non-DUI reasons, such as by accruing more than 12 demerit points on your license in one year.
Under old Nevada laws, first-time DUI defendants could get a restricted license 90 days into their 185-day license revocation, and felony DUI defendants could get a restricted license one year into their three-year license revocation. Restricted licenses allowed the holder to drive back and forth from work or while performing job duties.
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is a restricted license?
- 2. When and how can I obtain one?
- 3. What driving am I allowed to do?
- 4. What if I break the rules for my restricted license?
- Additional resources
1. What is a restricted license?
If your license has been revoked for non-DUI reasons, a restricted license permits you to drive to essential locations such as:
- your job,
- your school or college,
- your doctor’s office (or the doctor’s office of a household member),
- your grocery store, and/or
- court-ordered child visitation1
Therefore, if you have a restricted license, be careful not to drive for recreational purposes such as to the movies, a mall, a restaurant, a park, a friend’s house, etc. Have a designated driver to take you to places outside the scope of your restricted license.
Restricted licenses expire once the underlying revocation period ends.
Before the law changed, people arrested on a DUI first were able to get a restricted license 90 days into their 185-day driver’s license revocation. People arrested for a DUI third or a DUI causing injury were able to get a restricted license one year into their three-year driver’s license revocation.2
1.1. How Nevada DUI arrests affect driver’s licenses
Many people do not realize that a DUI arrest subjects the driver to not one but two cases in Nevada:
- The criminal case, and
- The civil DMV case, as discussed below.
A Nevada DMV case has a narrower scope than a criminal case. Whereas criminal courts impose fines and even incarceration for a DUI, all the DMV can do is revoke your driver’s license if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or above. The length of the revocation depends on your DUI history:
|Nevada DUI offense
|Driver’s License Revocation Time
|DUI 3rd or DUI causing injury or death
Note that your driver’s license can be revoked regardless of what happens in the criminal case. Criminal court should not convict you of DUI unless the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Though the DMV can find you liable for DUI based solely on your breath or blood test results.3
1.1.1. Breath and Blood Tests in Nevada DUI Cases
If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI in Nevada, you are immediately taken by the police to a local station or jail for a mandatory DUI breath test or DUI blood test. You usually can choose which test to take. (However if the police suspect you are on drugs, you are required to take a blood test.)4
Some drivers opt for the breath test because the breathalyzer device is not intrusive and gives instant results. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) registers as .08 or higher, the police immediately confiscate your driver’s license. If you take the blood test, you keep your license pending the results (which may take several weeks to come back).
1.2. “DMV Hearings” in Nevada DUI cases
You are entitled to a “Nevada DMV Hearing” to contest the revocation of your driver’s license.
If you waive your right to a hearing, then the license revocation begins seven (7) days after the breath tests come back positive for DUI or five (5) days after the blood test comes back positive for DUI. Alternatively, if you choose to schedule a DMV hearing, you may get a “temporary license” for several weeks pending the hearing results.5
1.2.1. Time to request a DMV hearing
There is a short grace period between when you allegedly fail your breath test and when your license revocation begins. It is during this grace period that you may request a “DMV hearing” to contest the license revocation and request a temporary license.
When this grace period begins depends on whether you take a breath or blood test:
- Breath. If you fail a DUI breath test, you have your license confiscated at the time of your arrest. The police then give you a pink slip, which indicates that your license will be revoked in seven (7) days.
- Blood. By contrast, if you take a blood test, you may still drive until the DMV mails you a certified letter saying that the test indicates that you committed a DUI. This may be weeks or months after the arrest. This certified letter indicates that your license will be revoked in five (5) days from the mailing.6
1.2.2. Process for retrieving a temporary license in Nevada
Once your criminal defense attorney faxes the DMV Administrative Office requesting a DMV hearing and a temporary license, the DMV takes up to two (2) business days to process the paperwork. You may then visit any full-service DMV in Nevada to retrieve the license as long as you follow the following rules:
First, you must bring to the DMV one of the following forms of identification:
- A photo ID, such as a state-issued ID or valid U.S. passport (the passport can be expired within less than one (1) year)
- A birth certificate
- Proof of Social Security Number, such as an SSA 1099, a W2, or a Social Security Card
Second, you need to bring a completed copy of the Nevada DMV’s driver’s License or Identification Card” application form and pay a fee to the DMV clerk. Alternatively, you can go to the DMV’s Information Desk to get the form (which is yellow) and fill it out at the DMV.
Once you wait in line for a DMV teller, you will be issued a temporary license. You will then be photographed, and another temporary license with the photo will be mailed to you within 10 business days. You may then drive legally on the temporary license pending the DMV hearing results.7
1.2.3. Nevada DMV Hearing
The DMV hearing is like a mini-trial. You and your attorney may present evidence and cross-examine the arresting officers.
However, DMV hearings are harder for DUI defendants to win than a criminal trial. This is because criminal prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the DMV’s administrative judge needs very little evidence in order to find that you committed DUI.
Still, DMV hearings are valuable because they serve as a dry run of the criminal case. Also the defense attorney can extract valuable information from the arresting officer that they may be able to use to negotiate a good plea deal.8
1.2.4. DMV Hearing results
A few days following the DMV hearing, the DMV will mail out a copy of its “findings.” If the DMV finds in your favor, your driver’s license is reinstated. You would just need to return to a full-service DMV to retrieve your permanent license. (You should bring your ID and a copy of the DMV hearing findings.)
Though if the DMV finds against you, then your license will be revoked. Recall that the revocation periods depend on your charge:
- A DUI first carries a 185-day revocation
- A DUI second carries a 1-year revocation
- A DUI third (or DUI causing injury) carries a 3-year revocation
Note that if you prevail at a DMV hearing, you will still have your license revoked if you end up getting convicted of DUI in criminal court.9
2. When and how can I obtain one?
Remember, DUI defendants are no longer eligible for restricted licenses. Instead, you can get an ignition interlock device to continue driving your car anywhere.
If you are a non-DUI defendant, you should go through the following steps to apply for a restricted license from the DMV:
- Contact the Nevada DMV in Carson City by dialing 1-877-368-7828 and then press options 6, 2 and 3. You need to provide your driver’s license number to the agent. At that point, ask the agent if it is necessary to get an SR 22 insurance form from your insurance company in order to get a restricted license. It probably will be necessary.
- If the DMV agent confirms that you need an SR 22 form, contact your car insurance company and get an SR 22 form.
- Then fill out the Nevada DMV Restricted License Application and follow directions on the application on how to submit it to the Nevada DMV.
- Wait to hear from the DMV. Note that the DMV will verify the information on the restricted license application with your employer. If the DMV approves the application, you may then return to a full-service DMV with a valid ID to get the restricted license.10
3. What driving am I allowed to do?
Nevada restricted licenses allow you to drive to and from the following locations under the following conditions:11
|Permitted driving locations on a Nevada restricted license
|Rules and application requirements
|To and from work and work-related tasks
|Your employer must complete certain information on the application. The DMV will verify the information with the supervisor.
If you are self-employed, you must attach a copy of your business license or other acceptable document(s) to substantiate self-employment.
Workdays and hours are limited to a maximum of six (6) days per week, ten (10) hours per day.
|To and from school
|School authorities and parents/guardians must complete certain sections of the application.
The school route may be traveled on scheduled school days only, and no more than once daily. Plus the driving must be for academic purposes only, not extra-curricular activities.
|To and from medical care providers
|The application must include a statement from the medical provider(s), on the provider’s letterhead and dated within the past thirty (30) days.
The application must include a “Verification of Need” affidavit completed by an unbiased individual (neighbor, social worker, clergyman) and signed in front of a DMV-authorized representative.
|To and from court-ordered child visitation
|The application must include a certified copy of a court order authorizing restricted driving privileges to and from child visitation.
|To and from the grocery store
|The application must include a “Verification of Need” affidavit completed by an unbiased individual (neighbor, social worker, clergyman) and signed in front of a DMV-authorized representative.
You may go only two (2) days a week during a two (2) hour period.
Note that if you need to drive a household member to the doctor’s, the restricted license application must include a doctor’s statement with the following information:
- description of the person’s medical condition(s),
- prescribed medications,
- verification that the medical condition(s) renders the person unable to operate a motor vehicle,
- whether the medical condition is temporary or permanent,
- if temporary, estimated time for recovery, and
- any recommended restrictions.
For further questions, call the DMV in Carson City at 775-684-4364 (option 2).
4. What if I break the rules for my restricted license?
Driving in violation of a restricted license in Nevada is a misdemeanor carrying:
- 30 days to 6 months in jail or 60 days to 6 months in residential confinement, and
- $500 – $1,000 in fines.
Probation is not available.12
If you are cited for driving without a license, you may be able to get the case dismissed if you can provide proof that you did have a valid restricted license at the time and just forgot to carry it with you.
For alternatives to driving in Nevada, refer to the following:
- Las Vegas Monorail – A quick and easy way to travel between the SAHARA Las Vegas Station and the MGM Grand Station.
- Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada – Bus system in Clark County, Nevada (which includes Las Vegas).
- Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Washoe – Bus system in Washoe County, Nevada (which includes Reno).
- Taxicab Company Contact Information – List of licensed taxi cab companies by the Department of Business and Industry Nevada Taxicab Authority.
- Getting Around Las Vegas – Overview of options by visitlasvegas.com.