Las Vegas Nevada DUI Court is an alternative sentencing “specialty court” that allows DUI defendants suffering from addiction to do rehab instead of jail. Once you finish the program, the court may reduce your driving under the influence charge to a less serious offense.
Here are three key things to know:
- DUI Treatment Court is a one-year program for defendants facing first-time DUI or second-time DUI charges (which are misdemeanors).
- Felony DUI Treatment Court is a three-year program for defendants facing a third-time DUI charge (which is a felony).
- If you fail to finish your program, you will be convicted and sentenced to jail or prison on your original DUI charge.
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is DUI Court in Nevada?
- 2. Can anyone do it?
- 3. How are Misdemeanor and Felony Courts similar?
- 4. How are Misdemeanor and Felony Courts different?
- 5. How do I apply?
- 6. What if I do not finish?
- Additional resources
1. What is DUI Court in Nevada?
Nevada DUI Court is a diversion program that allows eligible drunk or drugged driving defendants to enter an intensive rehabilitation program in place of incarceration. The program is time-consuming, intrusive, and costly. But upon successful completion, your DUI charge may be reduced to a lesser offense.
Following a Nevada arrest for driving under the influence, we will first attempt to get your case dismissed or reduced to reckless driving. However, if the prosecutor refuses to negotiate — and if going to trial seems too risky — then doing rehab under the court’s supervision may be a good option to explore.1
2. Can anyone do it?
No. You are automatically disqualified from misdemeanor or felony DUI Treatment Court if:
- you are not addicted to drugs or alcohol;
- you seriously harmed or killed another person while driving under the influence;
- you have more than two DUI misdemeanor convictions in the past seven years; or
- you have a prior felony DUI conviction.2
Nobody is automatically assured of a spot in the program. The program is very selective, and each participant is accepted on a case-by-case basis.
3. How are the Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Courts similar?
The formats of DUI Treatment Court and Felony DUI Treatment Court have a lot in common. Both require the following:
- Weekly status check meetings with the judge (these become more infrequent over time)
- Group counseling (such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous)
- Individual counseling
- Ignition interlock devices in your cars
- Unannounced alcohol and drug testing
- SCRAM devices3
4. How are the Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Courts different?
Predictably, Felony DUI Treatment Court is longer and harsher than DUI Treatment Court. Specifically, the ways the programs differ include the following:
|DUI Treatment Court
(For DUI 1st and DUI 2nd defendants)
Felony DUI Treatment Court
(For DUI 3rd defendants)
|Program lasts 6 months to 3 years
|Program lasts 3 to 5 years
|Possibly up to 90 days of house arrest
|6 months of house arrest
|Program costs approximately $4,500
|Program costs approximately $11,000 – $15,000
|For a DUI 1st, 1 day in jail or 24 hours of community service
For a DUI 2nd, 5 days in jail and up to 50 hours of community service
|As long as you are compliant, no incarceration other than the 6 months of house arrest
|Upon completion, your charge may be reduced to reckless driving or other lesser charge
|Upon completion, your charge is reduced to a DUI 2nd, which is a misdemeanor
DUI Treatment Court (formally called the Moderate Offenders Program) has been around in some form as a specialty court program since 1983. Felony DUI Treatment Court (formally called the Serious Offenders Program) came into existence only in 2007.4
5. How do I apply?
The Specialty Court application process requires the following steps:
- You appear before the judge and plead guilty or no contest to the DUI charge you were originally charged with.
- You submit to the court 1) a completed application to the rehab program, and 2) a substance abuse evaluation completed by a certified counselor or doctor that declares you are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- The judge and prosecutor may request a court hearing within 10 days to debate whether you should be accepted into rehab.
- If you get accepted into the rehab program, the judge will suspend your original DUI sentence and transfer the case to the Specialty Court.5
6. What if I do not finish?
Then the judge will impose your original sentence, which always involves incarceration.
The punishment for not finishing DUI Treatment Court is up to six months in jail. The punishment for not finishing Felony DUI Treatment Court is one-to-six years in Nevada State Prison.6
If you are suffering from addiction, you can find support at:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – A 12-step program aimed at overcoming alcoholism
- Narcotics Anonymous – A 12-step program aimed at overcoming drug addiction
- Crisis Support Services of Nevada – For immediate help with your substance abuse disorder, call 1-800-450-9530 or text 839863
- NRS 484C.320 Application by a first-time offender to undergo a program of treatment; sentencing of offender and conditional suspension of sentence; notice to Department.
- Id.; see Success adds up for DUI Court, Las Vegas Review-Journal (August 20, 2007); Nevada Senate Bill 277 (2017).
- NRS 484C.320; NRS 484c.340.