First DUI Offense in Nebraska

The administrative and criminal penalties for a first DUI in Nebraska.

By , Attorney

In Nebraska, it's unlawful for a person to operate or be in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle:

A person is considered "under the influence" if the person's ability to drive a vehicle in a "prudent and cautious manner" is impaired to any "appreciable degree."

Generally, when someone is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), administrative (license-related) penalties are imposed. If the defendant is later convicted of DUI in court, there are criminal penalties in addition to the administrative penalties already imposed.

This article discusses the administrative and criminal penalties associated with a first DUI in Nebraska.

Administrative Penalties

License revocation. Under Nebraska's implied consent law, all motorists must consent to a chemical test of blood, breath, and/or urine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Generally, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will revoke the license of any driver who has a BAC of .08% or more or refuses to take a chemical test as follows:

  • BAC of .08% or more. If a driver's BAC is .08% or more and the person doesn't have any prior license revocations in the last 15 years, the revocation is for 180 days.
  • Refusals. Motorists who refuse a chemical test face a revocation of one year.

Typically, the arresting officer will take possession of the offender's license and issue a temporary license that's valid for 15 days.

Ignition interlock permit. The offender can petition for an administrative hearing to contest the license revocation. In lieu of a hearing, the offender can apply for an ignition interlock permit to use during the period of revocation. To get the permit, the driver must provide proof that an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed on one or more vehicles operated by the person.

First-time offenders who submitted to and failed a chemical test will be issued the IID permit 15 days after the arrest. Drivers who refused a chemical test must wait 105 days before being allowed to drive with an IID permit.

Criminal Penalties

A first DUI conviction is a class W misdemeanor. The criminal penalties imposed for a first offense depend on the defendant's BAC and whether the defendant is given a probationary sentence (also called a "suspended sentence"). Penalties are typically more severe if the defendant's BAC was .15% or more. If probation or a suspended sentence is imposed, generally the defendant is sentenced to jail time but is allowed to serve all or a portion of the time on probation rather than actually in jail. But if the defendant violates probation, the original sentence can be imposed.

Conviction Sentence

BAC less than .15%. A first DUI conviction involving a BAC of less than .15% (see about how many drinks it takes) carries:

  • seven to 60 days in jail
  • a $500 fine (a first offense can lead to other expenses too), and
  • a six-month license revocation (any period of revocation imposed by the court upon a DUI conviction is reduced by any period of administrative revocation imposed by the DMV).

The defendant is required to apply for an ignition interlock permit for the revocation period.

BAC .15% or more. Defendants with a BAC of .15% or more are looking at:

  • seven to 60 days in jail
  • a $500 fine, and
  • a one-year license revocation (after 45 days, the defendant can drive with an ignition interlock permit and IID).

Probation or Suspended Sentence

BAC less than .15%. First offenders with a probationary sentence and a BAC that's less than .15% face:

  • up to 60 days in jail (no minimum jail time)
  • a $500 fine, and
  • a 60-day license revocation (the defendant must obtain an IID and permit during the revocation period).

BAC .15% or more. Probationary sentences for defendants with a BAC of .15% or more carry:

  • up to 60 days in jail with a minimum of either two days in jail or 120 hours of community service
  • a $500 fine, and
  • a license revocation for one year (the defendant must apply for an ignition interlock permit and install an IID during the revocation period).

Additional Penalties for First Offenses

Alcohol assessment and treatment. All DUI offenders must complete an alcohol assessment and the recommended treatment program. Generally, the defendant is responsible for the costs of the assessment and treatment.

Alcohol monitoring device. The court can require DUI offenders to use an alcohol monitoring device and to abstain from alcohol use at all times.

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