The potential consequences for a second DUI charge in Las Vegas are significant. While a second drunk driving charge in Nevada is a serious crime, it’s still considered a misdemeanor.
Additionally, even though it might be your second DUI charge, it might not count as a second DUI under Nevada law. There are significant things to keep in mind as you consider your options and prepare your defense with your Las Vegas DUI attorney.
Nevada’s second offense drunk driving law is Nevada Revised Statute 484C.400. The offense has the same basic elements as a first DUI offense with the added element that you have a prior DUI conviction within seven years. A second DUI is punishable by at least ten days in jail and up to 6 months in jail. The penalties for drunk driving are intended to ensure you don’t commit the crime again.
The court may sentence a drunk driver to all or any of the range of possible penalties for a second offense of drunk driving. Here are the potential penalties and other things that you need to know about possible sentencing outcomes:
- Jail time: 10 days is the mandatory minimum, six months is the maximum. The court may also allow you to serve some jail time under house arrest.
- Fines of approximately $1,000 plus costs
- Restitution payments for the victim
- Attendance at a Victim Impact Panel
- Intensive substance abuse treatment
- A substance abuse evaluation at your own expense ($100)
- Suspended sentence (probation instead of maximum jail time)
- Driver’s license suspension for one year
- Ignition interlock on your vehicle (For alcohol test results of .18 or higher)
- The judge decides the specific sentence
- You have a right to be heard at sentencing
A Second Offense Must Be Within 7 Years
For a drunk driving offense to count as a second offense under Nevada law, it must occur within seven years of the first offense. The sequence of events doesn’t matter. As long as a second offense occurs within seven years of a first offense, the person charged can face second-offense allegations.
How the Charging Process Works for a Second Offense
A second drunk driving offense is a misdemeanor. That means there’s no grand jury and no preliminary examination. Instead, the district attorney has to include information about the prior offense in the charging document. The district attorney also has the burden of proof to show to the court’s satisfaction that you committed a prior offense.
It’s not the jury that decides whether you have the prior offense. Instead, it’s the judge at your sentencing. The jury shouldn’t hear about prior offenses at all because the information might prejudice them and prevent you from having a fair trial.
If you go through your trial, receive a conviction, and the court isn’t satisfied that you have a prior offense, the court can sentence you as though it’s a first offense. To prove the second offense, the district attorney can ask the court to look at prior records in their own court, or the district attorney can bring official records with them to the hearing.
The Elements of a Second DUI Charge and Common Defenses
Attacking a second time DUI charge in Nevada should begin by understanding the specific charges against you and exploring your case for possible defenses:
What Does the State Have to Prove?
To prove a second offense DUI, the state has to demonstrate that you drove a vehicle while you were intoxicated or while you were high on a drug. Alternatively, they can show that you drove a vehicle while your bodily alcohol content was a .08 or higher. Finally, they can show that you drove with an unlawful quantity of drugs in your system.
What Are Some Common Defenses?
You might choose to raise one or more of the following defenses:
- Police errors in testing
- Police failing to train for giving tests adequately
- Errors in field sobriety testing
- Errors in the police’s interpretation of your driving
- Innocent explanations for poor driving
- Lack of probable cause to stop your vehicle
There may be other defenses that may apply in your case.
Your first plan should always be to evaluate the charges to see if you can seek a dismissal or a not guilty verdict at trial. However, reaching the best possible result might mean considering a plea offer.
A second drunk driving charge is a serious offense. That means the best result might mean convincing the district attorney to extend you a favorable plea offer.
One possible option that may be advantageous is a plea to reckless driving. Reckless driving isn’t a drunk driving offense at all. It just means that you drove a vehicle without proper care for the safety of people and property around you.
There’s no automatic license suspension with a reckless driving conviction. You can seek a record sealing after only one year instead of after seven years for a DUI. A reckless conviction doesn’t count as a prior offense if you’re ever charged with DUI in the future.
Although reckless driving can be a great plea, the district attorney doesn’t offer it in every case. To put it another way, it’s a lenient disposition for a second-offense DUI charge. If you’d like a reckless plea, you should work carefully with your attorney to show the district attorney that there are serious deficits in their case and that you’re a deserving candidate for leniency.
Pursuing the Best Result in Your Case
A second DUI charge in Las Vegas is a serious matter. You’re exposed to significant time in jail, and a year without a driver’s license. However, there are things that you can do to minimize the damage and defend yourself against the charges. It’s important to work with an attorney as quickly as possible to begin mounting your defense.