Is DUI a Criminal Offense in Nevada?
You are here: DUI > Criminal Offense
If you live in Nevada or simply visiting Las Vegas for the weekend, you may be wondering if driving under the influence charge is a criminal offense. While this can depend on the specific circumstances of your case, it’s important to know that DUIs are aggressively pursued by law enforcement in Nevada and come with significant legal and social consequences.
With Las Vegas and much of Nevada being popular tourist destinations, local law enforcement aggressively pursues drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence. In many cases, the police will pull over drivers they suspect may be impaired and administer field sobriety tests to determine if the driver is intoxicated. Depending on the results of these tests, you could face serious criminal charges if it is determined that you are driving under the influence.
Read on for more information about why being charged with a DUI should always be taken seriously regardless of where you live or what type of situation you’re in.
Is DUI a Crime?
Yes, a DUI in Nevada is a punishable criminal offense.
Potential consequences include substantial fines, jail time, and the revocation of driving privileges. These punishments reflect the severity with which violations are taken. When authorities deem infractions have been committed, conviction leads to tough ramifications that can last for years.
Contrast this with civil infractions, like speeding, where you are merely cited and potentially fined. With a criminal offense, however, the consequences can be much more serious and far-reaching.
For example, a first-time DUI conviction typically results in a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for this can include up to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000, and license suspension for 6 months.
As more repeat offenses occur, the penalties become more severe. A third DUI conviction in Nevada can result in a felony charge, which could lead to up to six years of prison time and fines reaching $5,000 or higher.
It’s important to remember that these punishments are not limited to physical jail time or financial costs. Additional consequences may include the requirement to attend DUI classes, the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, or even community service.
The potential impacts of a DUI conviction can go far beyond just physical penalties. A criminal record resulting from a DUI charge can affect your ability to obtain employment, housing, and other services. That’s why it’s important to always take a DUI charge seriously, even if you’re just visiting Nevada.
Nevada is committed to cracking down on drunk or impaired driving and will prosecute offenders accordingly. Those who are charged with a DUI should seek legal help immediately in order to understand their rights and options for defending such charges. Doing so can help minimize the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction.
Overview of DUI Laws in Nevada
A DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence. It’s defined by Nevada law as operating or being in actual physical control of any vehicle while in an impaired state due to alcohol or drugs.
If your blood alcohol limit is over the legal limit of .08 while driving, you can be charged with a DUI. This also applies to any amount of drugs in your system that could affect your abilities — either illegal drugs or prescription medication.
While law enforcement needs to follow certain protocols, such as a field sobriety test or breathalyzer tests, to determine if you are under the influence, any amount of drugs or alcohol that affects your ability to drive safely can result in a DUI charge.
Note that being charged or arrested with a DUI does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be ways for you to fight the charges. That’s why it’s important to seek legal help from an experienced DUI attorney if you find yourself in this situation.
What’s the Difference Between a DUI Arrest from a DUI Conviction?
A DUI arrest occurs when an individual is taken into police custody for suspicion of driving under the influence. This happens once law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while impaired due to drugs or alcohol.
At this point, the individual is taken into custody and “booked” in the system. Your photos, fingerprints, etc. will be taken during this process. After this, in most cases, you will either be released or required to post bail.
After you are released or post bail, your arrest will be passed over to a prosecutor who will either decline to file charges and/or formally charge you with a DUI. This is when the case proceeds to court.
After a lengthy process—from the arraignment to the trial—all will eventually lead to either a guilty or not guilty conviction.
If the court finds you guilty, i.e. a DUI conviction, that’s when you will be sentenced to any applicable punishments.
At the end of the day, it’s important to understand the difference between a DUI arrest and a DUI conviction.
Even if you have been arrested for DUI, it does not mean that you will be convicted — as your case may be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. An arrest only means that you have been detained by law enforcement on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence; a conviction is a court ruling in which an individual is found guilty of violating Nevada DUI laws.
What to Do if You Are Arrested or Charged With a DUI
If you are arrested or charged with a DUI, it is crucial you seek out legal representation right away. A qualified lawyer can review your case and help you build an effective defense.
Your lawyer will also be able to explain the law and provide advice on how to navigate the court system in order to get the best possible outcome for your case.
If you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties can be severe and include jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, and court-ordered alcohol or drug education classes. Depending on your circumstances, it is also possible that your case may be upgraded to an Aggravated DUI or Vehicular Homicide, which carries even harsher consequences.
Having a qualified attorney by your side can help protect you against the worst and ensure that your rights are respected throughout the legal process.
It is important to remember that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous, not only for yourself but also for other drivers on the road. If you find yourself in this situation, contact The Defenders.
The Defenders has been handling DUI cases in the Las Vegas area for over 20 years and our experienced attorneys are prepared to fight for your rights. We understand how stressful this situation can be and are ready to help you through every step of the way. Schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled team members today and get the legal advice and representation that you need.
Will a DUI Lead to a Criminal Record?
Yes, being convicted of a DUI charge will lead to the creation of a criminal record.
In Nevada, DUIs can only result in either a misdemeanor or a felony. Both of these are criminal offenses that carry fines, fail times, and loss of driving privileges. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a DUI charge in Nevada, there may be additional penalties or requirements such as the SR-22 Insurance or an ignition interlock device for a certain period.
But the most important part of a DUI conviction that you need to take note of is that a criminal record can be accessed by the public, potential employers and other organizations that require background checks. If convicted, a DUI charge on your criminal record could cause difficulty in obtaining certain jobs and other opportunities.
Many people are aware that getting a DUI can carry significant legal and other penalties, however, few realize just how many fingerprints it leaves on your future.
You may have worked terribly hard to create a great first impression in job interviews or when meeting new people, but it could all be undone in minutes as soon as someone searches for your name online or performs a background check.
That is why we take DUI cases seriously and why we recommend people to seek out legal representation when they are facing DUI charges. It’s always best to hire a qualified and experienced attorney who can help you fight against your DUI charge and protect your rights. The Defenders have extensive experience in handling DUI cases and are here to provide the legal advice and representation you need. Schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today for more information about how we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is DUI a criminal offense in Nevada?
Yes, DUI is a criminal offense in Nevada and can result in either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. It is important to remember that being convicted of a DUI charge will lead to the creation of a criminal record. This could potentially cause difficulty when obtaining certain jobs and other opportunities.
What’s the difference between a criminal offense from a civil offense?
A criminal offense is a violation of the law that can result in fines and potentially jail time. This type of offense is generally more serious, with harsher punishments imposed on the offender. A civil offense takes the form of a dispute between two or more parties, usually for monetary damages. The punishment for such an offense may involve payment of compensation to the party affected. Relating back to driving-related offenses, speeding and running a stop sign are considered civil infractions, which if caught, will result in a citation that comes with a fine.
How much jail time can I receive for a DUI conviction?
The amount of jail time you receive depends on the severity of your DUI offense and whether it is a first-time offense. Generally, a standard first-time drunken driving conviction carries a jail sentence of up to six months.
Is a DUI arrest the same as a conviction?
No, a DUI arrest is not the same as a conviction. An arrest simply means you were taken into custody and accused of violating the law. A conviction occurs when you are found guilty in court, meaning that you accept responsibility for your actions or if a judge rules in favor of the prosecution after a trial.
If I’m found guilty of a DUI, will it stay on my criminal record permanently?
This depends on the conviction. In Nevada, misdemeanor DUIs can be sealed 7 years after the case ends. Felony DUIs, however, remain part of your criminal record indefinitely.