Evidence Needed for a DUI Conviction in Nevada: What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove in a DUI Case?
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Drinking and driving is an extremely dangerous practice that can have devastating consequences. Every day, thousands of people choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, despite knowing the risks. Unfortunately, this bad decision often leads to tragedy – not only for those involved in a crash, but also their families and loved ones who are left dealing with the aftermath of a DUI conviction.
In Nevada, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above .08 percent. If you’re found guilty of breaking this law, you could face serious penalties such as fines, jail time and license suspension or revocation.
To understand how prosecutors build DUI cases against defendants in Nevada courts, let’s take a look at what evidence is needed for a conviction under state law.
Elements of a DUI Charge
At the heart of any DUI charge is the notion that a person was driving under the influence (DUI). To prove this, prosecutors must rely on evidence that shows impaired driving.
In Nevada, you can be charged with DUI if both of these statements are true:
- Driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access; and
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of driving
Driving or in Physical Control
The first one is simple— Nevada law states you need to be in physical control of a vehicle. Are you behind the wheel during the arrest or is someone else driving (like an Uber)? If you were drunk as a passenger, you cannot be found guilty of DUI.
Of course, as with most laws, there are more nuances to consider. An experienced DUI attorney like the Defenders can help explain the laws and ensure your rights are protected.
This brings us to the second element — the prosecutor must prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your arrest, and prosecutors must present evidence such as Breathalyzer results and field sobriety tests.
Implied Consent Law
Under Nevada’s implied consent law, any person operating a motor vehicle in the state has already agreed to submit to DUI testing if they are pulled over for a possible DUI offense.
This means that you must submit to testing if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Refusal to these DUI tests can be used as evidence against you in a DUI trial, so it’s important to know your rights ahead of time and understand when and how you can refuse.
You can learn more about this in NRS 484C.150-160.
Per Se Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limit
Nevada’s legal BAC limit is .08 percent — meaning if your blood alcohol level exceeds this, you will be charged with DUI. However, regardless of the specific number, what matters most to prosecutors and judges in DUI cases is whether or not a driver was impaired at the time of driving.
This means that if you have a BAC lower than .08 percent but are still showing signs of impairment, you can still be charged with DUI. And while drug-related DUIs aren’t associated with a “per se” level of intoxication, they do require evidence of impairment and intoxication to prove guilt.
Chemical tests drawn from blood or urine can be used to prove that a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For example, despite legal in Nevada, weed or Marijuana is a prohibited substance while driving. If your blood test comes out with greater than 2 nanograms per milliliter of THC then you will be found guilty.
A Hypothetical Example
The examples above are clear cut—if you were driving, got caught, and had a BAC higher than the limit. But what about other situations?
Let’s say you were driving late at night, the officer pulls you over for weaving between lanes, and after being given a few field sobriety tests, it’s clear that you are impaired. In this case, even if your BAC is under .08 percent, you could still be charged with DUI.
Or let’s say you were at a party, had a LOT of drinks, then decided to drive back home. After driving for 10 minutes, you realized you were in no condition to drive. You decided to pull over in a side street to sleep it off.
If a police officer comes along and finds you in the driver’s seat asleep, they can still charge you with DUI. Even though you weren’t driving at the time, Nevada law already has this covered. It states that you are still guilty of DUI if “found by measurement within 2 hours after driving…to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath.”
In this scenario, if your BAC is over the limit, you can be charged with DUI. If the prosecutor can prove that you were only within 10 minutes of driving, this would be enough evidence to prove that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The only way to fight the charges against you is to challenge the evidence presented in court. It’s here that an experienced attorney like The Defenders can help make a defense for your case and potentially get charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Proving a DUI Case in Court
For prosecutors to secure a conviction, they must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt by gathering evidence that shows the defendant was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This evidence can include:
- Breathalyzer Test Results and Field Sobriety Tests
- Witness Testimony from Law Enforcement Officers and Other Witnesses
- Blood or Urine Testing Results
- Dashcam Videos and Other Recorded Evidence
- Admission of Guilt
Breathalyzer Test Results and Field Sobriety Tests
Breathalyzer tests measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) and are one of most reliable forms of evidence in DUI cases—assuming they were calibrated and administered properly. If you fail a Breathalyzer test, prosecutors will use this as proof that you were operating a vehicle under the influence.
Field sobriety tests like walking in a straight line or standing on one leg are also used to prove that a driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol. In Nevada, officers must follow strict procedures when administering these tests and if they fail to do so, evidence from the tests can be thrown out in court.
Blood or Urine Testing Results
Blood and urine tests are used to measure a person’s drug or alcohol content. These tests, which typically take place at a law enforcement office or hospital, can provide clear-cut evidence of intoxication if they come back positive.
Witness Testimony from Law Enforcement Officers and Other Witnesses
Law enforcement officers who witness DUI offenses are often called upon to testify in court. During this process, they will describe what they observed and provide details that can be used as evidence of impairment and intoxication.
Other witnesses like passengers or bystanders may also be asked to share what they saw leading up to the arrest. Together with the next item, this can help a prosecutor build a strong case against the defendant.
Dashcam Videos and Other Recorded Evidence
In some cases, officers will have access to dashcam footage or other recordings of the incident that can be used as evidence in court. This video evidence is often invaluable when it comes to proving that a driver was operating their vehicle under the influence.
Police body cams and videos from CCTV cameras can also provide valuable insights into the events leading up to an arrest and help prosecutors build a case for conviction.
Admission of Guilt
In some cases, a driver may admit guilt during or after the incident. Whether the defendant admits either orally or in writing — this can be used against them in court. This type of statement can be used as evidence in court and is often seen as strong proof that a defendant was driving under the influence.
In most cases, it’s best to remain silent if you’re facing DUI charges and speak with an attorney before making any decisions.
No matter what form of evidence is used, prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt for DUI convictions to stand. This means that all evidence must be concrete and well-documented to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial.
Charged with DUI? Hire The Defenders
If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, contact The Defenders 24/7 for a free case evaluation and more information about your legal options. Our experienced team of DUI defense attorneys can review the facts of your case, explain the charges and penalties you’re facing, and provide an aggressive defense strategy tailored to your unique needs.
Whether this was your first DUI offense or you have a complicated situation, The Defenders have the knowledge and resources necessary to protect your rights and get you the best outcome possible. Don’t wait – contact us today.