Nebraska prohibits driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This prohibition includes being under the influence of medications, street drugs, and drugs that have adverse reactions with alcohol. This article will explain how the use of different drugs can lead to an impaired driving conviction and the possible penalties.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as "the ingestion of alcohol or drugs in an amount sufficient to impair—to any appreciable degree—the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle in a prudent and cautious manner." So, for a driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) charge, the prosecutor must prove that the consumed drugs caused an appreciable degree of impairment.
Proof of impairment. At trial, the prosecutor will typically use evidence like expert testimony, blood test results, and the officer's observations of a driver's field sobriety test performance to prove impairment. Nebraska doesn't have a per se limit for drugs (similar to the .08% alcohol limit), so the prosecution must prove actual impairment rather than just an amount of drugs in the driver's system.
Impairing substances. Nebraska statutes don't explicitly set out what substances can lead to a DUID conviction. But the courts have held that any drug—prescription, over the counter, or illicit—can lead to a DUID if it causes appreciable impairment. Also, a physician's prescription is not a legal defense if the prescription warned against possible impairment or use with alcohol.
The penalties for drugged driving are generally the same as those for drunk driving. Nebraska counts all DUI within the last 15 years when calculating prior offenses.
First offense. A first-offense DUID will result in seven to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a six-month license revocation. But offenders who are granted probation can avoid jail and face only 60 days of license revocation and the $500 fine. As a condition of probation, the offender must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) for the revocation period.
Second offense. A second DUID will result in 30 days to six months in jail, $500 in fines, and an 18-month license revocation. Offenders who are granted probation can obtain a restricted IID license after 45 days but must still pay a $500 fine and either serve ten days in jail or complete 240 hours of community service.
Nebraska has a different type of probation for DUI offenders called the "24/7 Sobriety Program." Offenders can petition the court to participate in the 24/7 sobriety program. The program requires the offender to submit to twice-daily drug tests but allows the offender to avoid jail time and drive during the revocation period.