First Offense DUI in Nevada: Charges, Penalties, and Other Consequences
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If you have been charged with DUI in Nevada, you have been charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A motor vehicle can be anything including a bicycle. Yes, you can get a DUI on a bike.
DUI first offense is only for people who have not had any prior DUIs in the last 7 years.
DUI-first is a misdemeanor, punishable by 2 days to 6 months in jail, $400 to $1000 in fines, 8 hours of DUI classes, 6 months of license revocation, and a victim impact class.
If you are arrested for DUI, this is the punishment no matter what; however, you may be able to do community service instead of going to jail.
In some cases, you can have an ignition interlock device installed in your car instead of losing your driver’s license.
Judges will grant these changes to people who have not previously been arrested for any crime and are the sole provider for their families and need to get to work.
A good DUI lawyer may be able to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed under the right circumstances.
Factors That Affect the Penalties for a First Offense DUI
- The defendant has a prior DUI conviction within the last 7 years
- The defendant caused a crash that injured or killed another person
- BAC is 1.8 or higher
- The defendant is under 21
Can I Go to Jail for a DUI First Offense in Nevada
Going to jail is always a possibility when you are arrested for a first-offense DUI.
It is, however, very unlikely unless there were other circumstances. The judge in your case has the discretion to impose the maximum penalty of 6 months in jail. This also includes paying for any and all DUI-related costs associated with your conviction.
The penalties imposed are the minimum mandatory sentence:
- Fines– $400-$1000 plus court fees. Usually, $1000 is the fine and you can make monthly payments to the court until it’s paid off. However, if you don’t pay the fine you can be arrested and taken to jail. Some examples of the fines are Las Vegas Justice court charges of $685 and Las Vegas Municipal Court Charges of $810.
- DUI Classes–DUI school is a required 8-hour course about alcohol awareness and traffic safety. In some cases, the classes can be taken online; otherwise, you must attend every class. The defendant must pay for the class, which is around $150
- Attendance at a victims impact panel class such as a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) lecture. The defendant will pay to attend the lecture, around $40.
- An order to stay out of trouble– The defendant must not be arrested or get anything other than minor traffic tickets while your DUI case is pending. DUI cases usually take 6 months to a year to finalize.
- Driver’s License Suspension-The Nevada DMV will suspend your license for 6 months, but you may be able to avoid this by using a breath interlock device installed in your vehicle.
- SR-22– The SR-22 is special insurance that you must carry on your license or vehicle for 3 years after your conviction for a first offense DUI. SR-22 insurance costs about $300 per year added on to your regular insurance
- Ignition Interlock Device-A judge may order that the defendant place an ignition interlock device in all of their vehicles for 6 months. These devices require the driver to blow a straw into a device to determine if the person has any alcohol on their breath. If the defendant has any alcohol on their breath, the car won’t start. You must blow into the machine every time you get in your car or it won’t start. These devices cost the defendant around $1000 for the device and installation and you are also charged to have them removed.
- Jail or community service-Nevada law mandates that the defendant serve at least two days in jail. In most cases, judges will count the arrest and jail time immediately after the arrest as the jail time and consider it as time served. If the defendant bails out before the jail hours are complete, the judge may order the defendant to complete 48 to 96 hours of community service. The judge can also impose a suspended jail sentence of 6 months. This is considered probation and the defendant will do no jail time as long as they complete all of the above sentencing terms.
These sentencing guidelines are the standard sentence for a first-offense DUI without any prior convictions in 7 years. If you have been arrested for DUI and seven years have passed between arrest dates, then you will be charged with first offense DUI. If, however, you were arrested within 7 years you are going to be charged with 2nd offense DUI.
If you were arrested for first offense DUI and you have a child under the age of 15 in your car, your penalties will be much harsher including:
- Higher court fines
- Mandatory Jail Time
How Can a Defense Attorney Help
You may think that once you have been arrested for first offense DUI that you are automatically considered guilty. That, however, is not the case.
There are 3 common defenses against DUI First charges. These include:
Poorly Administered Field Sobriety Test
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has detailed procedures that police must use to explain, administer and score the following field sobriety tests:
- The horizontal gaze test: following something with your eyes
- The one-leg stand test
- The walk-and-turn test
If the police lack the training or administer the test without giving proper instructions, then the test can be invalidated and the DA may lack the evidence to prosecute the case.
Physical Condition Caused Inaccurate BAC Results
There are many medical reasons for the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN breathalyzer to register a falsely high BAC. These medical conditions can include:
- Acid reflux
- GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease
If your attorney can gather medical records of your condition and provide expert medical testimony about your condition the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to have a case.
Rising Blood Alcohol
This is a common occurrence where a person’s BAC rises after they have stopped drinking. So the defendant may have had a legal BAC when they were pulled over but not administered the chemical test until hours later.
Drunk driving charges only apply when the defendant has control of the vehicle, not later on.
If an attorney can prove the defendant’s high BAC was due to rising blood alcohol, the drunk driving charges should be dismissed.
Some other possible defenses against a first-offense DUI are
- The breath or blood testing equipment was not working properly or misused
- The staff administering the test were not properly certified
- The arresting officer lacked probable cause to pull the defendant over
Typical evidence in a first offense DUI cases include police reports, eyewitnesses, surveillance video, medical records and expert testimony.
A good defense team will investigate all the evidence against the defendant including the confrontation between the driver and the police, how the arrest was conducted, how the BAC test was administered, and any eyewitnesses. If any evidence is questioned it may be able to be thrown out and the charges should be dropped or reduced.
Can My DUI Charges Be Reduced?
Depending on the case and circumstances a first-offense DUI charge can be reduced to reckless driving or dismissed. However, prosecutors are prohibited from pleading down charges of driving under the influence unless a guilty verdict is unattainable.
A good DUI defense attorney has the job of convincing prosecutors that their evidence is not sufficient to get a conviction.
Dismissal of DUI Charges
This is highly unlikely and can only happen if the defendant was sober and had a legal BAC of alcohol.
This is the next best thing other than dismissal—a reduction to reckless driving. This occurs when the defendant is clearly guilty, but there were procedural errors by the police like administering the blood test after the two-hour period.
The penalties for reckless driving reduction are the same as a first offense DUI.
Las Vegas DUI First Offense Attorney
As you can see, getting a first time DUI in Las Vegas is not only expensive but can disrupt your life for months, even years. You’ll need a good attorney to either get the charges dropped altogether or get it reduced to reckless driving.
Having a good attorney can mean the difference between having your license revoked for 6 months or having an interlock device installed in your car so you can drive.
The Defenders have been DUI attorneys in Las Vegas for years.
Our DUI expert attorneys can help you through the rigorous court process and help you navigate through all the things you have to do to satisfy a DUI charge.
Call The Defenders today if you have been arrested or charged with first-offense DUI.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a first offense DUI or DUI-first?
A first offense DUI or a DUI-first is when you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol for the first time. In Nevada, first DUI charges are often prosecuted as misdemeanors. It carries penalties that can include jail time, fines, license suspension and more.
What evidence do prosecutors need to prove a DUI?
To prove a DUI charge, prosecutors must have evidence of your BAC level, which typically comes from either a breathalyzer test or blood test. They may also use other evidence such as police reports, eyewitness accounts and surveillance video.
Can I get my charges reduced or dismissed?
It depends on the case and circumstances but it is possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed if an attorney can show that there were procedural errors by the police or that the evidence against the defendant is insufficient.
What are the penalties for a first offense DUI?
The penalties for a first offense DUI can include jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, and the installation of an interlock device in your vehicle. The exact penalties depend on the severity of the charge and any mitigating circumstances.
What are some possible defenses against a first offense DUI?
What are some possible defenses against a first offense DUI?
Can my DUI charge be reduced?
Depending on the case and circumstances, a first-offense DUI charge can be reduced to reckless driving or dismissed. However, prosecutors are prohibited from pleading down charges of driving under the influence unless a guilty verdict is unattainable.
Is it possible to get DUI charges dismissed?
Dismissal of DUI charges is highly unlikely and can only happen if the defendant was sober and had a legal BAC of alcohol. In other cases, it may be possible to reduce charges to reckless driving.