Las Vegas, once a dusty desert city; is now the self-proclaimed "Entertainment Capital of the World," boasting world-class shows, food, and lots of ways to lose your hard-earned money. Whether you are visiting the Strip for a bachelorette party, or are a local resident of Clark County pulled over after a UNLV basketball game, a DUI can have serious consequences on your life and wallet.
DUI arrests can occur in many scenarios: a checkpoint at W. Tropicana Ave. and S. Decatur Blvd. administered by Las Vegas Metro, a multiple vehicle collision out by East Bonanza Road at North Lamb Boulevard, or just a simple traffic stop.
If you are arrested for a DUI you'll likely be brought to Clark County Detention Center for booking and a blood or breath test. In some situations, you'll be asked to complete a urine test. If you refuse to take any such tests, you'll be spending the night in jail anyway.
The DMV Hearing: But I need to drive to work…
After you've been arrested for a Las Vegas DUI, you'll be facing two separate proceedings: the DMV hearing and the criminal court process. Your license will be suspended by the DMV seven days after your arrest.
Time is of the essence. You have only seven days to request an administrative hearing from the DMV following a DUI arrest in Nevada. If you don't request the hearing, your license will be automatically suspended. The hearing will automatically pause your license suspension.
This hearing is conducted similarly to a typical court trial, but an administrative judge will act as both prosecutor and judge, and there will be no jury present. Your DMV hearing is entirely separate from criminal court proceedings and is done via the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Basically, criminal courts impose fines and even incarceration for a DUI, while all the DMV can do is to suspend the defendant's driver's license if the driver's blood alcohol level (BAL) is .08 or above.
Also, in some cases, even if your license gets suspended, you can still apply for a "restricted license" after a certain period of time has passed. Just like it sounds, a "restricted" driver's license is more limited than a permanent license. You can drive to and from work, school, court-ordered child visitation, the doctor, and the grocery store.
Duration of DMV Driver's License Suspension
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
You can violate Nevada's DUI law two separate ways:
Under Age 21 DUI
Las Vegas has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. If your BAC is .02% or higher, the consequences are similar to an adult except: 1) you'll have to pay around $100 to get an alcohol and drug screening evaluation to determine if you have a substance abuse problem; and 2)your license will be suspended for 90 days minimum, even if your BAC was below .08. Bottom line: if you are under 21 and have been drinking, don't even think of getting behind the wheel. It's just not worth it.
Nevada's Implied Consent
Nevada's implied consent law dictates that refusing to take an alcohol test will result in an automatic one year suspension. But if you have refused a chemical test within the last seven years and had your license suspended because of it, then the suspension will span three (3) years.
This is in addition to any penalties you'll receive if you are convicted or plead in the criminal case.
Ignition Interlock Device
In some situations you will have to install an ignition interlock device on any car you own or operate. Generally, a judge will order this if your breath or blood alcohol level is above a 0.18.
An ignition interlock device is an in-car alcohol-screening device that is wired into the vehicle's ignition. It will prevent your car from starting if alcohol is detected in your system. The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver's seat. Before starting the car, you must blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. You must pay for all of this out of pocket. The cost to have the device installed along with inspection and maintenance fees are determined by the vendor.
Reckless Driving Charge
At your pretrial conference, the prosecutor might offer a first-time offender a reduced charge known as a "reckless driving" in exchange for your guilty or no contest plea. The fines and penalties for a reckless charge are much less than for a standard DUI. Speak to a lawyer to see if you may be eligible.
If the jury finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence in your case ranging from a small fine, to probation, to alcohol/drug counseling, and in the most serious cases, jail or prison time.
Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation.
Contact a qualified attorney.