Las Vegas DUI Defense Attorneys
Understanding DUI Charges in Nevada
“Driving under the influence,” or DUI, refers to any situation where a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver is considered “under the influence” if they cannot safely operate the vehicle due to their consumption of alcohol or drugs.
In the state of Nevada, a driver cannot operate a vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more. Drivers under the legal drinking age cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.02%. Commercial motorists cannot drive with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.04%.
Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be extremely stressful and frightening, especially if this is not your first offense. The state of Nevada enforces strict penalties against those convicted of DUI: A first-time offender can face up to 6 months of jail time, hundreds of dollars in fines, and a driver’s license revocation of at least 185 days.
Even when a breathalyzer test puts you over the legal limit, there are numerous factors that can influence the outcome of a DUI case. Our Las Vegas DUI defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. can fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We are familiar with how DUI cases are adjudicated in Nevada and can leverage our many decades of combined legal experience when fighting for your rights.
Getting Charged with DUI without Actually Driving
It is actually possible to be charged with driving under the influence without actively driving your vehicle. Nevada state law forbids any driver from being in “actual physical control” of their vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Whether a driver was in “actual physical control” at the time of an arrest will, in many cases, be up to interpretation and can depend on a variety of situational factors.
Factors that influence whether a driver was in “actual physical control” of a vehicle in Nevada include:
- Whether it was day or night
- Whether the vehicle’s engine was running
- Whether the vehicle was parked legally and on private or public property
- Whether the vehicle’s headlights were on or off
- Whether the driver was asleep or awake when approached by law enforcement
- The location of the driver when approached by law enforcement
- The location of the vehicle’s ignition key
Nevada has specific rules that protect drivers that are responsibly attempting to “sleep off” any inebriation. Drivers that recognize they are intoxicated can avoid DUI convictions by demonstrating that they never intended to unlawfully or unsafely operate their vehicle.
Under Nevada’s “sleeping it off” rule, a driver is not in actual physical control of their vehicle if:
- They are asleep
- They are not in the driver’s seat
- Their vehicle is legally parked
- Their vehicle’s engine is not running
- Their vehicle is in a location that the driver could not have driven to while intoxicated
For example, say someone drives to a bar and parks in its adjacent lot, which allows for overnight parking. The driver enters the bar, has several drinks, and realizes upon exiting that they are too intoxicated to safely and legally drive. They decide to “sleep off” the intoxication and rest in the backseat of their vehicle. However, a police officer notices the driver sleeping in the car, wakes them, and asks them to take a breathalyzer test. The test produces a result over the legal limit, and the driver is charged with a DUI.
Because the driver in this scenario met all of the conditions required for Nevada’s “sleeping it off” rule, a court will likely find that the driver was not ever in actual physical control of their vehicle. Consequently, the DUI charge will likely be dismissed.
Refusing a BAC Test in Nevada
When you are pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, law enforcement officers will typically ask you to submit to a test that will measure your current BAC. If you know you have been drinking and expect that your BAC is over the legal limit, you may be tempted to decline to take the test.
Nevada drivers operate under “implied consent” laws that require them to submit to breath, urine, or blood tests when arrested for a DUI. In other words, by procuring a driver’s license and driving in the state, you agree to the possibility of being tested in these situations in the eyes of the law.
While you can still decline to submit to a BAC test, there are stiff penalties for doing so. An initial refusal to submit to a BAC test will result in an automatic driver’s license revocation of 1 year. A second or third refusal will trigger a 3-year suspension of your license for each offense. Keep in mind that this is in addition to any penalties resulting from a DUI conviction. You can still (and likely will) be charged with a DUI after refusing to take a BAC test.
There are some limited circumstances where refusing a breathalyzer or blood test is the appropriate course of action. Our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys can answer your questions and assess your situation to determine whether you should submit to testing after being arrested.
Penalties for DUI Convictions in Nevada
Penalties for a DUI conviction in Nevada can include jail or prison time, fines, license revocations, community service, and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in the driver’s vehicle. The specific penalties will depend on the severity and nature of the current incident as well as the number of prior convictions, if any. Nevada “looks back” 7 years when assessing how many prior convictions to take into account.
Nevada assigns the following penalties for DUI convictions:
- First Offense. Up to 180 days in jail, $400 minimum fine, license revocation for a minimum of 185 days, and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for up to 3 years
- Second Offense. Up to 180 days in jail, $750 minimum fine, license revocation for 1 year, and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for up to 3 years
- Third Offense. Up to 6 years in prison, $2,000 minimum fine, license revocation for 3 years, and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for up to 3 years
DUI cases that may seem open and shut are often anything but, even if a BAC test puts you over the legal limit at the time of your arrest. We can challenge the accuracy of BAC tests, call into question the behavior of law enforcement, or contest allegations that you were in “actual physical control” of your vehicle. Our Las Vegas DUI defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. can pursue numerous defense strategies that can help minimize or eliminate the charges you are facing.