DUI Laws in Nevada

In this article, we review DUI laws in Nevada and the penalties you may face if you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Been caught driving under the influence in Nevada? Not too sure how to go about the legal system? This article aims to help you better understand DUI laws in the state of Nevada. Plus, we review how a stay in rehab can help you face an alternative sentence.

Table of Contents:


Some people get confused when they see the terms DUI and DWI. A DUI stands for “driving under the influence” while a DWI is an abbreviation for “driving while intoxicated” [1]. Though these terms are both used to define driving with a blood alcohol count (BAC) of over the legal limit, there are some states that use the term DWI solely when discussing drug-related traffic violations. Furthermore, there’s the abbreviation OUI which means “operating under the influence”. This term may be used in replacement of DUI or DWI but is much less common.

In the state of Nevada, all three terms DUI, DWI, or OUI are interchangeable and are used when discussing driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

The most common way for a police officer to decide whether or not you’re driving under the influence is through a breathalyzer test which records your BAC. Across the country, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08% if you are 21 years of age or older. If you’re under 21 years of age the legal limit is 0.02%. If you’re a commercial license holder, then the legal limit is 0.04% [2].

Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are allowed in the State of Nevada. [3] If you’re suspected of being under the influence of a drug in the state of Nevada, you might have to take a sobriety test then and there. Where are the usually placed?

Throughout the state of Nevada, you can expect to run into sobriety checkpoints in highly visible places. You will find these checkpoints particularly on nights when people are expected to be partying like Friday and Saturday nights… and in areas where partying is more likely to happen such as Las Vegas and Reno. The checkpoints are highly mobile and can be a part of highly publicized events.

At these sobriety checkpoints, you can expect a police officer to stop either all or some of the cars passing through and provide a breathalyzer test. Officers that run DUI checkpoints also assist with crashes, use Intoxilyzer for impaired drivers, assist with obtaining search warrants for impaired drivers who refuse to voluntarily submit to evidentiary tests, and then hold and transport offenders to jail. [4]

If the test reveals your BAC is over 0.08% or if you refuse to take the test, you will be arrested on the spot and charged accordingly. From here, your case will be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles where they will revoke your license. The amount of time it’s revoked for depends on the number of offenses you’ve committed previously.

From that point, you’ll be given a court date and actions will be taken against you. What these actions are all depends on your circumstance, however, the most common penalties are as follows:

  • Completion of DUI school
  • Delay in driver’s license
  • Fine
  • Jail time

The court’s conviction and the initial DUI will be placed on your record. This is to keep the court informed in future cases. Furthermore, you may run into problems with future employers as a DUI is visible on a background check. See below on how to get these records expunged.

Misdemeanor or Felony

For your first DUI, you can expect to only receive a misdemeanor in Nevada….with penalties which will follow. The same can be said for your second. However, upon receiving your third DUI in the state of Nevada, you will be charged with a felony and can be subject to much harsher penalties.

It should be noted, even if you’re a first-time DUI offender, whether you receive a misdemeanor or felony entirely depends on your situation. For example, if someone was either killed in an accident due to your DUI, then you’ll automatically be charged with a felony and face even harsher penalties. Or, if you had a child in the car, you may hold a heavier risk of receiving a felony.

1st DUI

Upon receiving your first DUI in Nevada, you can expect to receive a misdemeanor and the following penalties:

  • A fine between $400 and $1,000.
  • Jail time between 2 days or 6 months.
  • License suspension for 90 days.
  • Mandatory DUI school.
  • Potential attendance at a substance-abuse treatment program.
  • Potential community service for 96 hours.

It should be noted that these penalties will differ if you’re under 21 years of age. [2]

2nd DUI

Upon receiving your second DUI, you can expect a misdemeanor and the following penalties:

  • A fine between $750 and $1,000.
  • Jail time between 10 days and 6 months.
  • License suspension for 1 year.
  • Mandatory community service for 100 to 200 hours.
  • Mandatory DUI school.
  • Potential car registration suspension.
  • Potential attendance at a substance-abuse treatment program.
  • Potential clinical supervision for up to 1 year.

3rd DUI (or more)

Upon receiving your third DUI (or more), you can expect a felony and the following penalties:

  • A fine between $2,000 and $5,000.
  • License suspension for 3 years.
  • Potential car registration suspension.
  • Prison time between 1 to 6 years.

NOTE: In Nevada, consecutive offenses are only applicable if completed within a 7-year period. Therefore, if you receive a DUI and then another one, let’s say, 10 years later, you’ll be charged as if it were your first offense.

Jail Time

From the above information, it becomes clear that jail time is a very serious risk when receiving a DUI in the state of Nevada. You even risk prison time if you’ve received a third DUI or have hurt or killed someone in an accident due to your DUI. The following are the most likely reasons you’ll receive harsher jail time for a DUI:

  • Someone was hurt because of your DUI.
  • You refused a sobriety checkpoint testing.
  • You entered a plea bargain.

When it comes to the worst that can happen due to your DUI, vehicular manslaughter is the worst possible case. Under NRS 200-070, a person who commits such a crime will be charged with a misdemeanor if the victim was only hurt but a felony if they were killed. Depending on the situation, you are at risk of up to 6 years in prison. [5]

The good news is you hold the possibility of avoiding jail time in Nevada for a DUI conviction if you complete a series of steps. If you decide to take these steps rather than face jail time, it’s important to know that a lack of completion will be considered a violation of probation and you will risk jail time. These include:

  1. Paying a fine.
  2. Taking the DUI classes.
  3. Attending a MADD or Victim Panel.

Still, even people who’ve simply committed their first-offense are at risk of jail time. This usually happens if BAC was 0.10% or more. Sentences rise when BAC is over 0.15% in Nevada. If you had a minor in the car or were driving well over the speed limit, then you are all at risk of further jail time. In order to get a better sense of the amount of jail time you risk, you’re going to want to talk to a Nevada State licensed lawyer who specializes in DUI cases.

Classes and DUI School

In the Silver State, DUI classes are required after receiving either a first or second DUI offense. These classes must be taken either in-person or online. Both are acceptable by the court. [6]  These classes typically take around 8 hours to complete and have a standard price of around $100. You can expect lectures and class discussions on the dangers and impacts of drunk driving along with in-class exercises and video presentations. You may also have to take a final exam in order to pass the course.

If you don’t pass DUI school, you have the opportunity to take it once more without paying extra fees.

It should be noted, a judge may order you to take DUI school for 16 to 24 hours, depending on your circumstance. In this case, the price for DUI school will rise to between $275 and $325. Depending on where you live, these costs may be cheaper.



Statute of Limitations

If your DUI offense resulted in a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations in Nevada is 1 year. If it resulted in a felony, then the statute of limitations is 3 years. A statute of limitations is the amount of time prosecutors have for charging you with your DUI. The purpose of this is for the sake of eyewitness memory not weakening and evidence not deteriorating.

It should be noted, your statute of limitations DIFFERS from your DUI charge itself. In the state of Nevada, your DUI charge will stay on record for 7 years, no matter whether or not the prosecutors charged you.


In Nevada, you do have the opportunity to expunge a DUI charge under certain circumstances. Admittedly, it’s very difficult to get a full expungement. However, it’s very possible to get your DUI charge sealed from your record.

When a DUI charge is sealed, it isn’t necessarily taken off your record. Rather, it’s hidden from the public. Therefore, employers will not be able to see it upon giving you a background check. However, the court WILL be able to see it if you are charged again in the future.

In order to get your DUI sealed in Nevada, you must wait 2 years since you were convicted of your DUI as long as it was a misdemeanor. If you were charged with a felony, then you will have to wait anywhere between 7 to 15 years, depending on your circumstances.

DUI Lawyer Costs

Let’s be blunt: a lawyer is going to cost you a great deal. An average lawyer can cost you around $2,500. A good lawyer can raise that price upwards to $5,500. And an experienced lawyer can go as high as $6,000.For many, it’s more worthwhile to face the penalties than receive a lawyer. This is especially true for first and second-time offenders. You only want to look into getting a lawyer if you’re risking a lot due to your DUI, such as harsh jail time.

Is Rehab an Option?


Rehabilitation is always an option in cases of alcohol and drug use crimes. Even if you must pay the penalties for your DUI, it remains in your best interest to seek alcohol or drug treatment.

In Nevada, you can see if you are eligible for a drug court. [7] These are courts designed to do away with traditional punishment and offer help to those who break the law. Typically, help is provided through drug or alcohol treatment. And if you voluntarily enter treatment, you have the chance to completely change your life!

It should be noted, if you’ve committed a felony, you ARE NOT eligible for a drug court. There are other circumstances which might not make you eligible. In order to get a clearer sense of whether you qualify for a drug court or not, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer.

Your Questions

If you have any further questions pertaining to DUI laws in the state of Nevada, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any further information on DUI laws in Nevada, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] NHTSA: Drunk Driving
[2] DMV.org: Nevada DUI & DWI Laws & Enforcement
[3] CDC: Drunk Driving in Nevada
[4] NHTSA: Office of Safety and Traffic Annual Report 2017 for Nevada
[5] Nevada: Crimes Against the Person
[6] Las Vegas Defense Group: “DUI School” in Nevada: How it Works
[7] Administrative Office of the Courts: Drug Court Articles:
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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