Nevada's DUI Laws and 1st, 2nd, 3rd Conviction Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third DUI/DWI conviction in Nevada.

By , Attorney · Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Nevada's DUI laws are strict, and the penalties you'll face for a DUI conviction generally depend on the number of prior convictions you have. This article explains Nevada's DUI rules and the penalties you'll face for a first, second, and third conviction. This article also covers the consequences of being convicted of a DUI that's charged as a felony.

Nevada's DUI Laws

Nevada officially uses the term "driving under the influence" (DUI) instead of "driving while intoxicated" (DWI). But there are still quite a few people who use DWI and DUI interchangeably when talking about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Nevada's DUI laws prohibit all motorists from operating a motor vehicle:

A person is considered "under the influence" if is impaired to the degree that the person cannot safely drive. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 484C.110.)

The BAC limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers who are under the age of 21. Commercial drivers can get a DUI for a BAC of .04% or more and underage drivers can be cited for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 484C.120.)

Getting a Nevada DUI Without Actually Driving

In addition to driving or operating a car, a person is prohibited from being in "actual physical control" of a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a BAC of .08% or more. The policy behind this law is to prevent drunk driving before it starts.

Facts to Consider

A judge or jury might consider the following evidence in determining whether a driver was in actual physical control of a vehicle:

  • whether the vehicle was running
  • whether the driver was arrested at night
  • where the ignition key was located
  • where and in what position was the driver found in the vehicle
  • whether the driver was asleep or awake
  • whether the vehicle's headlights were on
  • whether the vehicle is located on public or private property, and
  • whether the vehicle was stopped in the road or legally parked.

Every situation is different. So, you should always consult an experienced DUI attorney about your case.

Nevada's "Sleeping-it-Off" Defense

In Nevada, a driver is not considered to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if all of the following apply:

  • the driver is asleep in the car
  • the driver is not in the driver's seat
  • the engine of the car is not running
  • the car is legally parked, and
  • the driver could not have driven the car to the location where the car was found while under the influence.

When these factors do apply, it's sometimes called the "sleeping-it-off" defense.

Nevada First DUI (Misdemeanor) Conviction Penalties

The "look-back" period for determining whether a DUI is a second or subsequent offense is seven years. A first DUI conviction within seven years is generally a misdemeanor and typically carries:

  • two to 180 days in jail (the minimum can be served through 48 to 96 hours of community service)
  • $400 to $1,000 in fines
  • a 185-day license revocation, and
  • a 185-day ignition interlock device (IID) requirement.

In addition to the normal penalties, first offenders who had a BAC of at least .18% must attend a treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse.

Nevada Second DUI (Misdemeanor) Conviction Penalties

A second DUI conviction within seven years is generally a misdemeanor and typically carries:

  • 10 to 180 days in jail (the minimum can be served through home confinement)
  • $750 to $1,000 in fines
  • a one-year license revocation, and
  • a one-year IID requirement.

Convicted drivers are also required to pay for and attend a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program as a condition for getting their license back.

Nevada Third DUI (Felony) Conviction Penalties

A third DUI conviction within seven years is generally a felony and typically carries:

  • one to six years in prison
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • a three-year license revocation, and
  • a three-year IID requirement.

Prior to sentencing, the offender will be evaluated for drug and alcohol dependencies. Based on the results, the court can order participation in substance abuse treatment.

Nevada Felony DUI Conviction Penalties

As noted above, a third DUI within seven years is a felony in Nevada. If you've been convicted of a felony DUI in Nevada, all subsequent DUI offenses can also be charged as felonies. For example, suppose you're convicted of a fourth DUI after having been convicted of a felony third DUI ten years earlier. In this situation, the fourth DUI would be a felony regardless of when the prior felony DUI occurred.

Fourth or Subsequent DUI Convictions in Nevada

A second felony DUI is a category B felony and carries two to 15 years in prison, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and license revocation for three years.

Nevada Felony DUI Charges for Offenses Involving Deaths or Injuries

Generally, an offender who causes "great bodily harm" or death to another while driving under the influence will be facing category B felony charges. A conviction carries two to 10 years in prison, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and a three-year license revocation.

Depending on the circumstances, a DUI incident involving the death of another person could also lead to vehicular homicide charges. A DUI-related vehicular homicide is a category A felony and carries at least ten years in prison.

Nevada's Underage DUI Laws

Nevada applies a BAC limit of .02% to drivers under 21 years of age. Unlike in some other states, a violation of Nevada's zero-tolerance law is not a criminal offense. Driving with a BAC of .02% or more, for underage drivers, will result in only administrative license-related penalties.

A driver who's under the age of 21 and has a BAC of .02% to .08% will be suspended for 90 days. However, restricted driving privileges may be available with the use of an IID.

Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Nevada

Under Nevada's "implied consent" laws, all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI are required to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test. A refusal will result in license suspension regardless of what happens in criminal court.

Talk to an Attorney

DUI convictions are serious. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, you should seek legal advice from a qualified DUI attorney.

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