Driving under the influence, often called a DUI, refers to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In some states, DUI only refers to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Other states have a variation of DUI, called driving while intoxicated (DWI). That are also other names that a state may use to identify the offense of DUI, including:

In the state of Nevada, DUI refers to being in physical control of a motor vehicle while drunk or high on drugs.

What Substances are Included in DUI Laws?

Any type of substance that impairs an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely may be included in a state’s DUI laws. These may even include legal substances.

The most commonly included legal substance in DUI laws is alcohol. There are, however, other substances which may be included in a DUI charge. These may include:

  • Illicit or illegal contraband drugs, including:
    • heroin;
    • cocaine;
    • PCP; and
    • other drugs;
  • Marijuana;
  • Prescription medication such as:
    • painkillers;
    • sleeping meds;
    • muscle relaxers; and
  • Over the counter medicines, including antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

If a doctor prescribes an individual a medication which indicates that they should not operate heavy machinery while taking the medication, it is likely that the use of that medication while operating a vehicle could result in a DUI charge.

What is the Legal Amount of Alcohol I Can Have in My System in Nevada?

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% in Nevada. This means that an individual with a BAC level at or above 0.08% is guilty of a DUI if they are operating a motor vehicle.

If an individual is a commercial driver or under the age of 21, the BAC limit is lower. In these cases, the limit is 0.04% for a commercial driver and 0.02% for an underage driver.

Do They Determine Drugged Driving the Same Way They Determine a BAC Level in Nevada?

No, drugged driving is not determined the same way as the BAC level in Nevada. The way in which the BAC level is measured is not the same manner in which the amount of drugs in an individual’s body is measured.

In Nevada, there is an allowable amount of drugs that can be in an individual’s body. Any percentage over that allowable limit is considered drugged DUI.

For example, the allowable limit for cocaine in Nevada in an individual’s urine is 150 nanograms and 50 nanograms in their blood. Therefore, if an individual has 200 nanograms of cocaine in their system while operating a motor vehicle, they would be over the limit.

Can I Still Get in Trouble If I Have Drugs in My System Under the Allowable Amount?

Yes, an individual may still be in legal trouble if they have drugs in their system that are under the allowable amount. Nevada has a per se law which prohibits an individual who has consumed drugs but is not over the allowable limit from operating a motor vehicle.

So long as an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired, they may be charged with drugged DUI.

Can I get a DUI When I am not Actually Driving?

Yes, it is possible to be charged with a DUI in Nevada when an individual is not actually driving a vehicle. In Nevada, an individual is prohibited from being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a BAC of 0.08% or more.

This law is intended to prevent drunk driving before it occurs. The court may consider the following factors when determining whether or not an individual was in actual control of a vehicle:

  • If the vehicle was running;
  • If the individual was arrested at night;
  • Where the ignition key was located;
  • Where and in what position the individual was found in the vehicle;
  • Whether the individual was asleep or awake;
  • Whether the vehicle’s headlights were on;
  • If the vehicle was located on public or private property; and
  • Whether the vehicle was legally parked or stopped in the road.

Every case and situation is unique. Because of this, it is important to consult with an attorney.

It is important to note that a driver is not considered to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in Nevada if all of the following circumstances apply:

  • The driver is asleep;
  • The driver is not in the driver’s seat;
  • The engine is not running;
  • The car is legally parked; and
  • It was not possible for the driver to have driven the car to the location where it was found.

This is known as the sleeping-it-off defense. It is worth repeating that all of the requirements must be satisfied for this defense to apply.

What is the Punishment for Drugged Driving in Nevada?

In Nevada, drugged driving has the same criminal punishment as drunk driving. The severity of the punishment depends on the number of DUI convictions an individual already has.

The first DUI offense an individual has for drugged driving is charged as a misdemeanor. The punishment for this charge includes:

  • 48 hours to six months in jail;
  • 200 hours of community service;
  • DUI school;
  • Driver’s license suspension; and
  • A $400 to $1,000 fine.

It is important to note, however, that an individual may obtain a restricted driver’s license immediately if they install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. A defendant may also be able to avoid having a misdemeanor conviction on their record if they complete misdemeanor DUI court, which is a rehabilitation program.

If an individual is charged with DUI in Nevada for the second time in 7 years, it is also charged as a misdemeanor. They may face:

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail;
  • A $750 to $1,000 fine;
  • Having an interlock device installed on their vehicle for 185 days;
  • A 1 year driver’s license suspension.

A defendant may also be able to participate in misdemeanor DUI court for their second DUI offense. Again, this may allow them to avoid a conviction.

An individual’s third DUI charge in 7 years is charged as a Category B felony. An individual convicted of this charge may face:

  • 1-6 years in a Nevada state prison;
  • A $2,000 to $5,000 fine;
  • An interlock device on their vehicle for 12-36 months; and
  • A 3 year driver’s license suspension.

A defendant may also be able to avoid a felony charge by completing felony DUI court. These punishments increase if the individual causes injury or death to another.

A DUI with injury or death is charged as a Category B felony. The defendant may face:

  • 2-20 years in Nevada state prison;
  • A $2,000 to $5,000 fine;
  • An interlock device on their vehicle for 12-36 months; and
  • A 3 year driver’s license suspension.

It is important to note that if a defendant has three prior DUI convictions, a DUI causing injury or death becomes vehicular homicide. This is a Category A felony which may result in a life sentence.

Finally, if a defendant is charged with a DUI after a previous DUI conviction, the charge is a Category B felony. The defendant may face:

  • 2-15 years in Nevada state prison;
  • A $2,000 to $5,000 fine;
  • An interlock device on their vehicle for 12-36 months; and
  • A 3 year driver’s license suspension.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Drugged Driving Case?

It is absolutely essential for you to have the assistance of an experienced Nevada DUI/DWI attorney if you are facing a DUI charge in Nevada. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Your attorney can review your case, attempt to negotiate a lesser charge or lesser punishment, and will represent you during any court appearances you are required to make. If you are convicted of a DUI you face severe punishment in Nevada and a criminal record that will affect your future and the future of your loved ones.