Misdemeanor DUI Court is an intensive rehabilitation program that allows eligible misdemeanor DUI defendants suffering from addiction in Nevada to avoid jail and DUI convictions. Also known as the Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County, Misdemeanor DUI Court typically lasts one year and includes:
- substance abuse counseling,
- unannounced alcohol and drug testing (and wearing SCRAM anklets),
- ignition interlock devices in the defendant’s cars,
- 90 days of house arrest, and
- for DUI first defendants, 1 day in jail or 24 hours of community service; for DUI second defendants, 5 days in jail
Las Vegas’s Moderate Offenders Program is very selective. Participants who break the rules face jail time. But if a defendant completes the program successfully, the judge may reduce the charge to something lesser such as reckless driving.
In this article, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss
- 1. What is Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?
- 2. What are the benefits?
- 3. Am I eligible?
- 4. What is it like?
- 5. How do I apply?
- 6. What if I relapse or break the rules?
- 7. What if I do not finish Nevada Felony DUI Court?
- 8. How much will it cost me?
- 9. What if this is my third DUI?
- 10. If I do not live in Nevada, can I do DUI Court in my home state?
Also see our article on Felony DUI Court (aka the Serious Offenders Program).
1. What is Misdemeanor DUI Court in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Misdemeanor DUI Court allows eligible first- and second-time DUI defendants the opportunity to submit to intense alcohol counseling instead of incarceration. Upon successful completion of this program, the DUI charge may be reduced to a lesser offense.
In short, Misdemeanor DUI Court is an alternative sentencing program that aims to rehabilitate rather than penalize.1
2. Should I do Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?
The Moderate Offenders Program is a lengthy and expensive commitment, but it is a good option if:
- the District Attorney refuses to dismiss or plea bargain down the DUI charge, and
- the defendant has a substance-abuse problem.
Successful DUI Court defendants may
- avoid jail,
- get help to fight their addiction, and
- probably get the DUI charge reduced.
Note that second-time DUI defendants still have to do five (5) days in jail no matter what. But that is still half the 10-day jail sentence that DUI 2nd defendants have to do if they are not accepted into DUI Court.2
3. Am I eligible for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?
In order to be considered for the Moderate Offenders Program in Nevada, the defendant must:
- be an alcoholic or drug addict;
- be facing charges of a first- or second-time misdemeanor DUI (within the last seven (7) years); and
- have never seriously hurt or killed someone from driving under the influence.
Note that first-time DUI defendants that had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .18 or above are not eligible for the Moderate Offenders Program.3
4. What is Misdemeanor DUI Court like in Nevada?
The Clark County Moderate Offenders Program is an intensive rehabilitation process that spans one (1) year on average. However, DUI Court may last from only six (6) months to as much as three (3) years.
The defendant gets assigned a case manager who recommends to the judge what kind of treatment he/she requires and how much. Nevada DUI Court usually comprises these requirements:
|Misdemeanor DUI School requirements||Details|
|“Status check” meetings with the judge||These are weekly. But as the defendant works through rehab, these meetings taper off. |
In Clark County, the Moderate Offenders Program meets on Thursdays.
|Jail and/or community service||For a DUI first, the defendant does 1 day in jail or 24 hours of community service. |
For a DUI second, the defendant does 5 days in jail and up to 50 hours of community service
|House arrest (“residential confinement”) for 90 days||There can be no alcohol in the home during house arrest. The defendant may have to wear a SCRAM anklet that detects if the defendant has ingested alcohol.|
|An ignition interlock device installed in all the defendant’s cars.||Also called a “breath interlock device (BID)”, an ignition interlock device precludes the car from starting if the defendant blows a blood alcohol content of .02 or above. The case manager is notified whenever this happens.|
|Group counseling such as Alcoholics Anonymous and individual counseling.||Counseling is bi-weekly or weekly.|
|Random alcohol testing||The judge and case manager decide the frequency.|
|Other terms specific to the defendant||In some cases, the judge will impose a curfew, a driver’s license suspension, or a GPS tracker the defendant has to wear.|
If the defendant complete all the requirements of the Moderate Offenders Program, his/her misdemeanor DUI charge may be reduced to a reckless driving conviction or another lesser charge depending on the terms of the plea bargain.4
5. How do I apply for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada?
The application process for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada consists of the following three steps:
- The defense attorney submits to Justice Court a completed application for Misdemeanor DUI Court. The application includes a substance abuse evaluation filled out by a certified counselor or doctor.
- The D.A. and court then have ten (10) days to request a hearing to debate whether the defendant should be accepted.
- If the judge lets the defendant into the Moderate Offenders Program, the judge will suspend the defendant’s jail sentence.
Defendants not accepted to Misdemeanor DUI Court will face typical Nevada misdemeanor DUI penalties.5
Defendants hoping to get accepted into the Clark County Moderate Offenders Program may increase their chances by hiring an experienced attorney. The program is very selective, and the application is time-sensitive and confusing.
6. How does the program handle relapses or if I break a rule?
DUI Court judges determine sanctions on a case-by-case basis. They take into account the defendant’s criminal record, how he/she has done in the program so far, and any other circumstances relevant to the case.
Some Nevada judges permit the defendant to relapse once with nothing but a verbal reprimand. But picking up another DUI charge will automatically cause the defendant to be expelled from the program and ordered to serve out his/her original sentence. The original sentence usually includes six (6) months in jail.6
7. What if I do not complete the program?
People who do not finish the Moderate Offenders Program are ordered to complete their original misdemeanor sentence.
Example: Vince gets arrested for DUI 2nd in Las Vegas. He is accepted into the Moderate Offenders Program after the judge imposes a suspended sentence of 6 months in jail. Vince never takes DUI Court seriously and keeps skipping court appearances and counseling. Finally the judge expels Vince from the program and imposes the 6-month jail sentence.
Had Vince in the above example stayed in DUI Court, he would have done only the 5 days in jail that the program requires.7
8. How much will Misdemeanor DUI Court cost me in Nevada?
It depends on the length of the program. A one-year Moderate Offenders Program in Clark County usually costs up to $4,500 total.8
9. Can I do Misdemeanor DUI Court if I am charged with a DUI third?
No. The Moderate Offenders Program is open only to people facing DUI-first or -second charges.
Defendants facing DUI third charges may be eligible for Felony DUI Court. In Clark County, Felony DUI Court is called the Serious Offenders Program. It is longer, more expensive and more intensive than the Moderate Offenders Program.9
10. If I do not live in Nevada, can I do DUI Court in my home state?
Perhaps, if the home state’s DUI Court is comparable to Nevada’s. Judges determine these situations on a case-by-case basis.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Arrested for DUI in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers might be able to negotiate with prosecutors to get your case thrown out or reduced to a lesser offense so you can avoid DUI Court completely. Call us for a phone consultation.
- 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. NRS 484C.330 Application by the second-time offender to undergo a program of treatment; sentencing of offender and conditional suspension of sentence; notice to Department.
- Id.; NRS 484C.400.
- Id.; see Kim Palchikoff, Jail alternative is no free pass, Las Vegas Sun (June 7, 2015).
- NRS 484C.320; NRS 484C.330.
- See note 6.
- NRS 484C.340.