Drunk driving in Las Vegas is illegal under Nevada law 484C.110. The law states that the maximum penalties for drunk driving are up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, revocation of the driver’s license for 185 days, and 96 hours of community service. The drunk driver may also be required to attend an 8-hour DUI school and attend a victim impact panel.
These penalties will vary depending on the circumstances of the specific scenario in question. However, most people who are facing a first-time DUI want to know what penalties they’re most likely to receive in their particular case.
While no set formula will tell you what penalties you will receive, certain aspects of a first-time DUI can offer some insight into how the court will proceed with sentencing. Understanding the potential penalties you may face can help you, and your Las Vegas DUI attorney decide what action to take. Here are the typical penalties and additional considerations for a first-time DUI in Las Vegas.
Although the maximum jail time for a first DUI is six months, most first-time offenders don’t end up serving that much time. The court has the option to suspend the jail time entirely. A suspended sentence means that you don’t serve time as long as you comply with the terms of your probation. If you’re arrested, the court might technically sentence you to one or two days in jail but then give you credit for an equal amount of time that you already spent in jail.
There are a few factors that can make jail time more likely in your case: a high alcohol or drug level, a long criminal history, a car accident or resisting arrest. If none of these apply to your case, you’ll probably get the standard suspended sentence. When one or more of these factors are present in your case, your attorney can help you address it in a way that helps you avoid or minimize jail time.
The maximum fine for a first DUI is $1,000. The court can also order you to pay court costs on top of that. Those court costs cover the expenses the state incurs to bring and process the case against you. Most DUI offenders don’t pay the maximum penalty. However, you should expect to pay a penalty of more than $500. It’s not uncommon for total fines and costs to approach $1,000.
Most first-time DUI offenders receive probation. This consideration is especially true when you receive a suspended sentence. Probation comes with many terms and conditions. The court will more than likely order you to avoid using alcohol, drugs, and other controlled substances without a lawful prescription. They might order you to receive a substance abuse evaluation or treatment. They’ll probably order you to avoid breaking the law of any government including a state or local authority.
The most probable penalty for violating your probation is jail. If you violate your probation, the court can continue your probation, or they can put you in jail for up to the maximum term of six months. Most judges don’t give the max for a first probation violation. You’re more likely to spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks in jail for a first probation violation.
Ignition Interlock Device
Introduced in Nevada Law NRS 484C, Judges will often rule that an ignition interlock device (IID) must be installed at the driver’s expense for all of their vehicles for a minimum of 6 months. Also called breath interlock devices (BIDs), these breathalyzer-like accessories attach to the vehicle’s dashboard or center console and must be used to test the driver’s breath before the vehicle will start.
If any alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath, the car will not start and the attempt will be logged and submitted to records which will then be reviewed by the court. Failure to use the device or any attempt to circumvent it is a itself a misdemeanor violation which carries a minimum of 30 days in jail or 60 days of home confinement along with a three-year driver’s license revocation.
A driver’s license suspension is standard for a first DUI offense. The suspension is three months. However, you can receive a restricted license after 45 days. A restricted license allows you to drive to and from work, probation appointments, and other limited destinations. Judges may allow immediate access to a restricted license by having an ignition interlock device installed.
Per Nevada Law 483.525, Defendants in DUI cases will need to maintain SR-22 insurance for three years to provide “proof of financial responsibility” in order to have a suspended driver’s license reinstated. This insurance provides additional coverage for damages, injury, or fatality in the event of another DUI.
Offenders who are able to plea bargain their DUI offenses down to a lower charge may not have a license suspension at all. If you’re able to get your charges pleaded down to reckless driving, there’s no automatic suspension. You will still get eight points on your license, but you can keep your license if you stay squeaky clean on the roads. This consideration makes it critical to work with a qualified attorney to represent you in the best possible light.
Substance Abuse Treatment and Intervention
It’s common for a first DUI sentence to include some substance abuse education and intervention. The amount of treatment that you will be required to complete depends mostly on your blood alcohol or drug level at the time of your offense.
On the low end, first DUI offenders can expect to spend one day attending a Nevada DUI school. There are lots of these around, and you’ll want to make sure that yours is court approved before you begin. You’ll also need to attend a victim impact panel where you listen to victims of drunk driving share their stories.
If your blood alcohol or drug level is high, you might get more intensive intervention. Usually, in cases where a blood alcohol level is .18 or greater, you can expect the court to order a substance abuse evaluation. You may have to go to outpatient counseling, or they can even send you to an inpatient facility. Even if this is a possibility for you, there are things that your attorney can do to help you present your case in a way that minimizes the court’s imposition on your time and freedom.
First time DUI offenders must wait a full seven years before they can seal their drunk driving conviction from the public record. For people who depend on driving for their employment, the wait can seem like a lifetime.
This consideration is another reason to do everything you can to defend yourself against the charges or get a reckless driving plea offer. If you can plead your charges down to reckless driving, you have to wait only one year before taking steps to seal the record of your conviction.
How an Attorney Can Help
Although drunk driving penalties and charges are serious, there are things you can do to defend yourself against the charges and improve your outcome. If you can identify where law enforcement violated constitutional protections to arrest you, you may be able to succeed in getting the charges against you dismissed before trial. Errors in testing procedures, field sobriety tests or other protocol can cast doubt in the jury’s mind.
In addition to all the other benefits of pleading the case down to reckless driving, a reckless driving conviction doesn’t count as a drunk driving conviction if you get another DUI charge. If you get another drunk driving charge after pleading a DUI down to reckless driving, you’ll face only a first drunk driving offense. These reduced penalties make it even more important to do everything that you can to pursue your case as aggressively as possible.
Why Work With a Las Vegas DUI Attorney
An experienced DUI attorney can help you evaluate the case for the best defenses and pursue your interests to help you achieve the best possible result. They can also give you a realistic idea of what to expect in your case. Together, you can create a plan to protect and advance your interests and fully understand the legal process as it unfolds.