Nevada Zero Tolerance Law Explained | Half Price Lawyers

Nevada Zero Tolerance Law Explained

The Nevada zero tolerance law makes it illegal for any person under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol content. A driver under the age of 21 can face charges, and a driver’s license suspension, any time their bodily alcohol content is .02 or higher.

The zero tolerance law creates special DUI rules just for drivers under the age of 21. Any kind of drunk driving offense or driving with any measurable bodily alcohol content is a violation of Nevada law and subject to criminal and civil penalties. Here’s what you should know about the law from our team of skilled Las Vegas DUI lawyers.

Is Nevada a Zero Tolerance State?

Yes, Nevada is a zero tolerance state. Any person under the age of 21 who is caught driving with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher faces juvenile or criminal court proceedings. The possible penalties include a fine, a driver’s license suspension of at least 90 days, and even a suspended jail sentence. Nevada is a zero tolerance state because a person under the age of 21 can be charged for driving with any bodily alcohol content, even if their bodily alcohol content is under the legal limit of .08.

What Is the Penalty for Violating the Zero Tolerance Law in Nevada?

The penalty for violating the zero tolerance law in Nevada is a mandatory driver’s license suspension of 90 days, fines, and an alcohol assessment. You may also be court-ordered to participate in an alcohol victim impact panel and mandatory education classes.

If your bodily alcohol content is .08 or higher when you violate the zero tolerance law in Nevada, you face all the same penalties as an adult driver with a DUI charge. Your case may go to adult court or juvenile court, depending on whether you are over the age of 18.

What Is the Nevada Zero Tolerance Law?

The Nevada zero tolerance law is a special DUI law that applies to only drivers under the age of 21. The law comes from Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.350 and Nevada Revised Statutes 483.462.[1][2] The law says that any driver under the age of 21 with any measurable alcohol content is in violation of the law. In other words, the State of Nevada has zero tolerance for drivers under 21 who are under the influence of alcohol.

Penalties for Zero Tolerance Offense in Nevada

Penalties for a zero tolerance offense in Nevada include the following:

  • License suspension of 90 days
  • Mandatory alcohol assessment for substance abuse and dependency
  • Monetary fines
  • Alcohol education course
  • Victim impact panel
  • Probation period/suspended jail sentence

Nevada DUI Under Age 21

Even though Nevada has a zero tolerance law that applies only to individuals under the age of 21, drivers under the age of 21 can also receive a standard drunk driving charge (DUI). If a minor is caught with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or higher, or if alcohol or drugs influence their ability to drive, the minor may face traditional drunk driving charges despite Nevada having a zero tolerance law.

In that case, all of the same DUI penalties that apply to drivers over 21 also apply to the underage driver. A license suspension of 185 days, fines of up to $1,000, and a jail sentence are all possible for a driver under 21 with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or higher.

Defenses to Zero Tolerance in Nevada

Defenses to zero tolerance in Nevada include the following:

  • The driver is not under 21
  • An error in the testing instrument created a false reading
  • The law enforcement officer interpreted the testing instrument incorrectly
  • Police violated constitutional rights when conducting the investigation
  • Police didn’t calibrate the testing instruments properly
  • The police didn’t properly maintain the testing instruments before use
  • Too much time passed between the driving and the test to give an accurate reading
  • Use of gum, mouthwash or a health issue produced an invalid reading

Does a Nevada No Tolerance Charge Go to Adult Court or Juvenile Court?

A Nevada no tolerance charge may go to adult court or juvenile court. If the driver is 18 years of age or over, adult court hears and processes the case. If the driver is under the age of 18, juvenile court handles the case.

Even though the offense is the same for all drivers under 21, offenders under the age of 18 have their cases diverted to juvenile court, just like other types of crimes are diverted for young offenders in the State of Nevada.

Plea Bargains for Zero Tolerance in Nevada

Plea bargains for zero tolerance in Nevada include reckless driving and other traffic offenses.[3] Reckless driving results in 8 license demerit points rather than an automatic suspension. In addition, the period before record sealing is only one year compared to seven years for a drunk driving offense.

There are reasons that it may or may not be in your best interests to accept a reckless driving plea bargain or any other plea bargain for a zero tolerance charge in Nevada. In addition, participation in a drug or alcohol court may be another appropriate way to handle the charges in some circumstances. An experienced Nevada underage DUI attorney can help you determine the best course of action.

Can You Challenge a License Suspension for Nevada Zero Tolerance?

Yes, you can challenge a license suspension for Nevada zero tolerance. If the police fail to inform you about your constitutional rights, or if they make another error in the case, the State of Nevada may overrule the license suspension. However, it’s important to work quickly to challenge the license revocation. You have only a limited amount of time to assert your rights.

The license hearing is a completely separate hearing from the criminal zero tolerance hearing. The outcome of the license hearing doesn’t depend on the outcome of the criminal matter. However, the burden of proof for the two hearings is different. The state has a higher burden to sustain the criminal charge than they have to sustain the license revocation. Even so, it’s always a good idea to assert your legal rights. An experienced Nevada DUI attorney can help you fight for your rights effectively.

Nevada Zero Tolerance Underage DUI Attorneys

Are you charged with zero tolerance? Call our Nevada zero tolerance attorneys for a free consultation.


[1] NRS 484C.350

[2] NRS 483.462

[3] NRS 484B.653

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