DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI)
In Nevada, it is against the law to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle after consuming alcohol and/or drugs that impair one’s ability to drive or control a vehicle safely. DUI can be charged as:
- Driving or being in actual physical control while under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
- Driving or being in actual physical control with an alcohol content in one’s blood or breath (BAC) of .08% or higher;
- Driving or being in actual physical control while under the influence of a controlled substance;
- Driving or being in actual physical control while under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance; or,
- Driving or being in actual physical control while under the influence of a prohibited substance.
Field Sobriety Tests
A law enforcement officer may ask a DUI suspect to perform Field Sobriety Tests in order to evaluate the coordination and concentration abilities of the suspect in determining whether probably cause exists to support an arrest for DUI.
Testing for Intoxicants
A DUI suspect may be requested to give his or her consent to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) to determine the concentration of alcohol in the suspect's breath. That test is not admissible evidence in a criminal trial except to show there were reasonable grounds to make an arrest. A PBT reading can give an officer grounds to investigate further for a DUI arrest and prosecution.
Blood tests, breath analysis and urine tests can be performed to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in a person's system for purposes of criminal prosecution. Those tests are administered at the Washoe County Detention Facility (Jail) by trained Crime Lab professionals after a suspect has been arrested. If an arrestee refuses testing, law enforcement officers may request a Search and Seizure Warrant for Blood from a Reno Municipal Court Judge.
Penalties for DUI in Nevada
DUIs adjudicated in Reno Municipal Court are misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine (not including fees), 200 hours of community service, and probation for 2-3 years. There are also minimum penalties.
A First Offense DUI conviction is punishable by the following: at least 2 days jail or 48 hours of community service; a minimum fine of $400, plus fees and assessments; a $60 chemical testing fee for tests conducted at the jail at time of arrest; a $100 DUI Fee; mandatory in-person attendance at a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) presentation; and an alcohol/drug awareness class or a period of counseling, as determined by a Judge. In addition, whenever the BAC is over .18%, the Judge must order the driver to install a Breath Interlock Device (BID) for 1 to 3 years as a condition of reinstating a Nevada driver's license.
A Second Offense DUI committed within seven years of the first offense is still a misdemeanor, but has increased minimum penalties as follows: 10 days jail or 10 days house arrest; a minimum fine of $750, plus fees and assessments; a $100 DUI conviction fee; a $60 chemical testing fee for tests conducted at the jail at time of arrest; mandatory in-person attendance at a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) presentation; and a period of counseling, as determined by the Judge. Installation of a BID may also be required for a Second Offense DUI conviction.
If a defendant convicted of a DUI is under 21 years of age, has a BAC over .18%, or is convicted of a Second Offense DUI, Nevada law requires that, before sentencing, a state-certified evaluator must perform a Substance Abuse Evaluation to recommend to the Judge the appropriate level of treatment needed by the defendant.
A Third Offense DUI committed within seven years of the first and second offenses may be prosecuted as a Category B Felony in Nevada. This offense is punishable by a possible prison sentence of one to six years in the custody of the Department of Corrections and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. If a death or substantial bodily harm is caused during any DUI, this is also a felony, punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years, with no probation allowed. These cases are prosecuted by the Washoe County District Attorney and adjudicated by the Second Judicial District Court, not the Reno Municipal Court.
Loss of Driving Privileges
The DMV will revoke a person's driver's license for 90 days upon conviction of a First Offense DUI or for 1 year upon conviction of a Second Offense DUI. A Third Offense Felony DUI conviction results in a 3-year revocation of driving privileges. This is done in separate administrative proceedings and is not a decision made by Reno Municipal Court. A person who is convicted of driving with a revoked license due to a DUI could also face a 30 days jail or 60 days house arrest and a fine of $500 to $1,000 not including fees. The license will then be revoked for an additional year. To reinstate one’s license again, the driver must pay DMV a reinstatement fee, take tests again, and provide proof of insurance for three consecutive years (SR22). Reinstatement of driving privileges is governed by DMV regulations.
The State Bar of Nevada’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (1-800-789-5747) provides names of attorneys who handle DUI cases.