No, not at this time, in 2021 the Las Vegas police have done away with DUI checkpoints and are taking a new approach to getting impaired drivers off the streets. The new approach involves officers saturating an area and looking for impaired drivers in that vicinity. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has affectionately named this police tactic a “Blitz.”
“Instead of going out and fishing, we wanted to go out and be hunters,” said Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Bret Ficklin. “We want to take an active, proactive approach to finding DUI drivers. We’re sending resources around the whole area and actively look for DUI drivers.” The DUI Strike Team patrols the city in a targeted blitz, usually picking one Saturday night each month to send up to 70 officers from multiple jurisdictions into a section of town to scout out impaired drivers.
As an example, during one of these Blitzes in October 2021, the Las Vegas Police reported the following:
- “On Saturday night, officers stopped more than 160 vehicles and made 13 DUI arrests.
- Police also issued 40 citations, recovered three guns and made one felony arrest.
- The DUI blitz was part of an ongoing effort aimed at catching and stopping impaired drivers.”
These Blitzes occur about twice a month and they do not have to conform to rules regarding DUI checkpoints. If you are stopped during one of these blitzes and the police officer smells alcohol or the scent of marijuana from the car, the officer will form a reasonable belief that the driver is under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana. They can request the driver to take a sobriety test and when the driver fails the field sobriety test, the police officer can request the driver to take a blood or urine test to confirm the level of THC in their blood. The driver will be placed on hold and will not be allowed to leave until they have submitted to a blood or urine test. When working with the Spartacus Law Firm and our Las Vegas marijuana DUI attorney, we’ll make sure we review the sobriety test in detail and determine if there are any issues that can present reasonable doubt in court or dispute the sobriety tests validity.
In most scenarios, law enforcement will initiate a traffic stop that leads to an investigation of impaired driving. Driving conduct such as weaving between lanes, driving too slow or too fast, running through a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign, swerving, or even being asleep behind the wheel of your vehicle can give law enforcement probable cause to initiate a traffic stop which ca lead to an impairment investigation. Once a traffic stop has been initiated if the officer suspects impairment he or she may ask the driver to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) pursuant to NRS 484C.150.
If a driver passes the PBT but exhibits other signs of impairment, law enforcement may suspect the driver of being under the influence of a drug, such as marijuana.
At this point, the officer may invoke the assistance of a drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) to assist in the investigation. The DRE officer may question the driver about their general health, consumption of food, alcohol, drugs, prescribed medications, and during this questioning, the DRE will make observations about coordination and speech patterns. The DRE may also note the driver’s pupil size, pulse, and blood pressure.
Pursuant to NRS 484C.160
if the presence of a controlled substance is in issue the officer may direct the person to submit to a blood or urine test, or both, in addition to the breath test. The only exception to taking a blood test for drug impairment is if a person is afflicted with hemophilia or with a heart condition requiring the use of an anticoagulant as determined by a physician or an advanced practice registered nurse is exempt from any blood test which may be required but must, when appropriate, be required to submit to a breath or urine test. NRS 484C.160(4)
A third DUI conviction
will no longer be charged as a misdemeanor, instead it will be enhanced to a category B felony and the penalties are much more severe. The court may order the driver to be detained in state prison for 1-6 years and pay a fine of $2000-$5000. The court may also order the driver to be medically evaluated to determine if the driver has a substance abuse disorder and if the driver can still be treated.
While it is possible to receive jail time for a first offense DUI marijuana, it is unlikely. A great majority of defendants get time served for the time they were in custody for the DUI marijuana arrest. If the DUI marijuana charge involved injury to others, the likelihood of jail time increases. But, for a first-time DUI marijuana you will not likely receive any jail time. The penalties are not enhanced for the marijuana component and the penalties are almost identical to being convicted of a DUI alcohol first offense.
Much like alcohol, blood draw testing is used to determine a driver’s THC levels. However, a marijuana DUI is often difficult for a prosecutor to prove. A Las Vegas marijuana DUI attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely with the right defense strategy. Hiring a qualified criminal defense lawyer is imperative in these types of cases and can make the difference between time in jail and no time served.
One of the first challenges to a driving under the influence charge is to challenge the probable cause of the traffic stop itself. A motion to suppress the evidence can challenge the probable cause for initiating the traffic stop, and if the motion is granted the DUID charge will be dismissed.
An experienced defense attorney may also be able to rebut the presumption that you were impaired while you were in actual physical control of a vehicle. Marijuana stays in your system long after the intoxicating effects have worn off. Proving impairment in a marijuana DUI case can be difficult, and the prosecutor may be willing to stipulate to a negotiated resolution such as reckless driving, careless driving, or speeding.
Cotter v. State, 738 P.2d 506 (1987) — Holding that aside from per se DUI cases, the state must show more than consumption of a controlled substance and subsequent driving. Furthermore, the State must show impairment as “to a degree which renders him incapable of driving safely or exercising actual physical control of the vehicle.”
Sheriff Clark County v. Burcham, 198 P.3d 326 (2008) — Holding that aside from per se laws, whether a driver is under the influence will “always be a question of fact, to be considered in the light of such variable circumstances as the individual’s resistance to the substance, the amount ingested and the type and time of ingestion. An attack on the blood draw itself may be warranted if the driver did not consent to the blood draw and the police officer failed to obtain a warrant to perform a blood draw.
At the Spartacus Law Firm, we will also analyze the testing equipment to determine whether the police or lab technicians had their equipment up to date, certified, and functional, and whether any contamination of the blood sample or chain of custody could have occurred.
Although it’s likely for a license suspension, there are plenty of instances where this can be avoided. Following a blood test in Nevada, the driver gets to keep their driver’s license until the results come back from the lab and show positive for drugs. At this point, the Nevada DMV notifies the driver by mail that their license is being suspended. The driver may then request a Nevada DMV hearing to contest the suspension. The length of the license suspension depends on whether the driver has previous DUIs:
- A first-time DUI carries a 185-day suspension
- A second-time DUI carries a one (1) year suspension
- A third-time DUI carries a three (3) year suspension
Unfortunately, Nevada does not provide for the expungement of criminal offenses. However, your file can be sealed for a misdemeanor marijuana DUI conviction after seven years from the date the case was closed NRS 179.245
. Marijuana DUI charges that are negotiated to reckless or careless driving can be sealed one year after the case is closed NRS 179.245
. Charges that are dismissed can be sealed immediately NRS 179.255