Nevada’s laws and penalties for driving under the influence are among the strictest in the nation. But even legislators and prosecutors under political pressure to deal harshly with drinking and driving in Nevada recognize that, in some cases, a DUI is a mistake, a lapse in judgment. For some, a DUI is the manifestation of an addiction problem. Nevada law contains less-harsh alternatives for individuals charged with first-offense misdemeanor DUI.
At Adras & Altig, our Las Vegas DUI attorneys know that there are two sides to every story and, like everyone else, drivers arrested for DUI deserve to have their story told and defended. Our legal team will fight for your rights and aggressively argue for your first offense DUI charge to be resolved in the manner most beneficial for you.
There are several ways we can help you right away after a DUI arrest. Schedule a free consultation with Adras & Altig as soon as possible; we pride ourselves on being available and responsive. Our compassionate and understanding Las Vegas defense attorneys are to help you and treat you with the personalized attention and respect you deserve.
What Happens After Being Charged With DUI For The First Time in Nevada?
There are certain actions that occur after a DUI arrest in Las Vegas that most people are unaware of. First, you will be booked and charged, but after you are released from custody, you have just a few days to take steps to help yourself. If you contact Adras & Altig right away, we can guide you through everything that happens after your DUI arrest.
A first offense DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor. If there was a crash that resulted in someone else’s death or substantial injury, it is charged as a felony, which makes much stricter penalties possible. We can provide you with a dedicated and robust defense if you face felony DUI in Nevada, but below we discuss a misdemeanor offense.
After a DUI arrest, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 90 days. But you have seven days to request an administrative hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles to appeal and halt suspension of your driving privileges. This is a license revocation hearing and is separate from prosecution for DUI, at which the state seeks to impose jail time, a fine and other punishment if you are found guilty.
If you request a hearing, the Nevada DMV will run a national check of your driving record. If you have no other active revocations or suspensions, you will be cleared to receive a temporary driver’s license.
An administrative hearing tests simply whether at the time of arrest a test showed you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or whether you had a detectable amount of a controlled and/or prohibited substance in your blood. If you did, you lose your license for 90 days.
But your temporary driver’s license remains valid through the date of the hearing, which takes several days to schedule, and until the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who presides over the hearing renders a decision, which is typically 30 days after the hearing.
If the ALJ rules in your favor (rescinds the revocation), you will be cleared to obtain a permanent driver’s license from the DMV as long as you are otherwise eligible.
If your license is revoked and this is your first DUI offense, you may apply for a restricted driver’s license after half of the revocation period has passed, i.e., 45 days. After the 90-day revocation period has passed, you must apply to get your license restored.
Penalties & Punishments for a First-Time DUI Offense
As you go through the DMV’s Administrative Hearing process, the local district attorney’s office will have scheduled your trial date. If you are convicted of first offense DUI in Nevada, the standard sentence includes:
- 2 days to 6 months in jail or 48 to 96 hours of community service. (A suspended sentence of 6 months, which means it is not served if you stay out of trouble, is typical.)
- A fine of $400 to $1,000, plus court costs. (A net payment of $600 is typical.)
- 185-day (6 months) suspension of your driver’s license and a $35 civil penalty.
- Attendance at a state-approved alcohol awareness program (at your own expense).
- Attendance at a MADD Victim Impact Panel
- If you are younger than 21 or your BAC was 0.18 or more, an alcohol/drug dependency evaluation ($100) and attending an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.
- If your BAC was 0.18 or greater, attachment of an ignition interlock device in your car for 12 to 36 months (1 to 3 years).
- Possible orders for an ignition interlock device for 3 months to 6 months, regardless of your BAC.
If you have been required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle or you do it on your own, you may apply for and obtain a restricted driver’s license for the six-month revocation period. It will specify when and where you may drive, such as to work and for routine shopping and regular appointments.
DUI Treatment Programs for First-Time Offenders
Our job as your DUI attorneys is to either get charges dropped, obtain a not guilty verdict or, if a conviction cannot be avoided, negotiate a plea bargain that imposes the least onerous penalty as possible on you.
We will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your arrest and the alleged evidence against you to develop a strong and strategic legal defense to DUI charges. Depending on the facts of the case, we can challenge the legitimacy of your arrest, filed sobriety tests, breath test or other evidence, including whether you had “actual physical control” of the vehicle you were allegedly driving. We may be able to have the charges you face reduced or dropped without you ever appearing in court.
If a conviction appears imminent, as a first-time DUI offender charge with a misdemeanor, you will have options available to you to avoid the harsher aspects of Nevada DUI penalties. Under Nevada law (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. To take advantage of this option, you must agree to:
- Be formally diagnosed as an alcoholic or drug addict
- Pay the costs of treatment, which will be several thousand dollars
- 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
- Regular status checks before the judge
- Electronic monitoring of your whereabouts
- Random observed alcohol/drug testing
- Individual and group (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) counseling.
The program lasts at least 6 months and may include supervision (random testing, infrequent status checks) for up to three years. If you successfully complete the program, the judge will reduce your sentence to the day served in jail or community service performed and limit the fine to $400. If you fail to complete the program, the judge may impose a full sentence for first offense DUI, including 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine and a six-month driver’s license revocation.
Should I Get A DUI Lawyer For My First Offense?
No one should face even a first offense charge under Nevada’s complex and strict DUI laws on their own. A DUI conviction stays on your record forever, always there when a prospective employer, landlord or loan officer does a routine background check. Even if it’s your first DUI arrest, prosecutors in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, will still seek the maximum sentence if there is nothing or no one to persuade them and the judge that such an outcome is unwarranted in your case.
Being accused of driving under the influence is not the same as being convicted of DUI. You have a right to every legal defense available to help you avoid jail, fines, loss of your driving privileges and other penalties. We urge you to exercise your right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney if arrested for DUI in Las Vegas, and then to contact Adras & Altig at your first opportunity.
We’re not here to judge you. We’re here to protect your rights and to build a strong and persuasive defense for you. Contact us today to protect yourself from the potentially harsh consequences of the DUI charges you face.