Las Vegas has earned a reputation for being the city that never sleeps. With alcohol being served 24 hours a day, the Las Vegas police take driving under the influence very seriously, and the penalties for a first time DUI are among the harshest in the country. The state of Nevada, especially Clark County, has taken a proactive and aggressive approach to keep the roads safe and DUI-free. Penalties for DUIs can generally be broken down into two categories, criminal penalties, and administrative penalties.
Criminal penalties for a first DUI offense in Nevada are given once the driver is convicted of driving under the influence. Although the penalties for second DUI
and third DUI charges
are more severe, a first time conviction can still carry hefty consequences if not handled correctly. Criminal penalties for a first time DUI will depend on your particular circumstances. The most common penalties for someone’s first DUI in Las Vegas include:
Drivers convicted of a first DUI must serve either two days to six months in jail or perform 48 to 96 hours of community service while wearing clothing that identifies the driver as someone convicted of DUI. The fine ranges from $400 to $1000. Convicted drivers are also required to pay for and attend an educational course on drug and alcohol abuse and install an IID on their car for 185 days as a condition for getting their license back.
Penalties are more serious for a driver if they have a BAC of .18% or higher. On top of the standard first DUI penalties mentioned above, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device
(IID) for a period of 12 to 36 months. Along with an IID, you may also be required to attend a drug
and alcohol treatment program.
If you’ve been convicted of a DUI that resulted in wrongful death
or substantial injury
to another motorist or pedestrian, you could face extensive jail time. Nevada law states that someone convicted of a felony DUI could face anywhere between 2 to 20 years in prison and must pay a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
There are also other potential penalties you may face outside of criminal penalties. In fact, there are a handful of administrative penalties that can be given by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If the field sobriety test you’ve taken after being pulled over indicates a BAC of .08% or more, drugs in your system without a prescription, or if you refuse to take these tests altogether, you’ll lose your driver’s license. For a first DUI in Las Vegas, administrative penalties include:
- Drivers whose blood or breathalyzer results reveal a BAC of .08% or more will have their license suspended for 90 days.
- Must attend a state-approved alcohol awareness program
- Motorists who refuse a chemical test in violation of Nevada’s implied consent laws will face a one-year revocation of their driver’s license.
- Motorists who refuse two or more times within a seven-year period face a three-year administrative driver’s license revocation.
- Attendance at a MADD Victim Impact Panel
- Orders for an ignition interlock device (IID)
However, these penalties are not set in stone. If the Nevada DMV revokes your license, you can request a hearing to challenge the revocation. If you don’t request a DMV administrative hearing
in writing, you forfeit your right to challenge an administrative suspension. Having an experienced DUI defense attorney
by your side during this process can be critical for a successful challenge. One of the immediate benefits of requesting a hearing is that the DMV may issue you a temporary driver’s license that allows you to drive while the DMV conducts its review.
First Offense DUI charges in Las Vegas are almost never cut and dry. Even if your breathalyzer or blood test came back over the limit, there are often many issues an experienced DUI lawyer can use to get the charges reduced – or even dismissed. Your case will be meticulously reviewed to understand all information in your case. Seeking inconsistencies or oversights that can turn the case proceedings in your favor. Below are some of the more common defenses for a first offense DUI in Las Vegas.
- Blood testing equipment malfunction or misuse
- Lack of experience or care from equipment handlers
- Lack of probable cause from the police officer
- Improper procedure with the field sobriety test
- The defendant’s physical condition inadvertently affected the results of the blood test
If you’ve been charged with your first DUI in Las Vegas you may be able to apply with the court to undergo a treatment program prior to sentencing. If the court accepts, the judge can suspend your sentence for up to three years to give you the time needed to successfully complete the treatment program. According to NRS 484C.320
, you may apply to attend an alcohol treatment program to avoid being sentenced and sent to jail if your BAC was less than 0.18. However, in order to take advantage of this option, you must agree to the following:
- Be formally diagnosed as an alcoholic or drug addict
- Pay the costs of treatment out of your own pocket
- Serve at least one day in jail or perform 24 hours of community service
- 90 days of house arrest with no alcohol in the home
- Routine status checks before the judge
- Electronic monitoring of your whereabouts
- Random alcohol or drug testing
- Individual and group counseling
If entered into the DUI treatment program, it must last at least 6 months and can include ongoing monitoring for up to three years. If you successfully complete the DUI treatment program, the judge can reduce your sentence to the day served in jail or community service performed and limit the fine to $400. However, if you fail to complete the DUI treatment program, you can face 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine and a six-month driver’s license revocation.