Nevada Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties

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

Nevada officially uses the term “driving under the influence” (DUI) instead of “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). But there are still quite a few people that 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:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more within two hours of driving (called a “per se” DUI), or
  • while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A person is considered “under the influence” if is impaired to the degree that the person cannot safely drive.

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 .4% or more and underage drivers can be cited for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. (Get a rough idea of how many drinks it takes to get to a certain BAC level.)

Getting a 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 vehicles 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.

The “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 DUI Penalties

Nevada DUI penalties vary depending on the facts of the case. For the most part, the penalty ranges are determined by how many prior convictions the person has. The chart below provides potential sentences for a first, second, and third DUI conviction. The “look-back” period for determining whether a DUI is a second or subsequent offense is seven years.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


180-day maximum (mandatory 2 days in jail or 48 to 96 hours community service)

180-day maximum (mandatory 10 days in jail or home confinement)

1 to 6 years in prison


$400 minimum

$750 minimum (or equivalent number of community service hours)

$2,000 minimum

License Revocation

At least 185 days

1 year

3 years

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

185 days if BAC is less than .18%, 1 to 3 years if BAC is .18% or more

185 days if BAC is less than .18%, 1 to 3 years if BAC is .18% or more

1 to 3 years

Implied Consent and 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 the following license suspensions periods.

1st Offense

2nd or Subsequent Offense

License Revocation

1 year

3 years

For purposes of determining what is a second subsequent refusal, all prior DUI convictions, refusals, and failed BAC tests (.08% or greater) within the past seven years are counted.

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