In Nevada, a DUI can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies because the maximum punishment for a misdemeanor is 6 months in jail, whereas a felony can result in a substantial prison sentence.
Misdemeanor DUI charges are far more common than felony DUI charges. What makes a DUI a misdemeanor or a felony? First offense DUI and second offense DUI are misdemeanors, whereas third offense DUI and DUI causing death or substantial bodily harm are felonies.
Misdemeanor DUI can be charged in either the Justice Courts (e.g. Las Vegas Justice Court, Henderson Justice) or the Municipal Courts (e.g. Las Vegas Municipal Court, North Las Vegas Municipal Court).
When you are charged with a DUI, two separate cases are opened: a criminal case and an administrative case. The criminal case is brought in local Justice Courts or Municipal Courts. Criminal DUI charges are prosecuted by the Clark County District Attorney or the local City Attorneys (e.g. the Las Vegas City Attorney, the Henderson City Attorney, etc.).
The administrative case is handled by the DMV. Generally speaking, the criminal case can result in the most serious penalties, including fines and jail time, whereas the administrative (DMV) case can result in the loss of your driver's license.
Potential penalties for misdemeanor DUI also vary based upon whether the charged DUI is a first or second offense within any seven year period. Read below to learn about the potential penalties (both criminal and administrative) for first and second offense DUI.
The standard administrative penalty for a first misdemeanor DUI is a 90-day suspension of your driver's license and a $35 civil penalty fee. If you request a DMV hearing, you can also obtain a temporary license that will allow you to continue driving until the date of your administrative hearing. Once you have your administrative hearing, they will either reinstate your license if you win, or your suspension period will begin if you lose. Assuming your license is suspended, you may apply for a restricted license 45 days into your suspension assuming you can demonstrate a real need (transportation to and from work is one of the most common needs cited).
Where a person's prior DUI convictions took place is irrelevant. If the person had a DUI in Florida 6 years ago, it will still count toward the total amount of DUIs that person has committed. The only issue with prior DUI convictions is when they occurred. If a person has prior DUI convictions but they all occurred over 7 years ago, the person's new DUI will be charged as a DUI first offense.
The standard administrative penalty for a second misdemeanor DUI is a 1-year suspension of your driver's license, a 5-day suspension of your registration, and a $35 civil penalty fee. If you request a DMV hearing, you can also obtain a temporary license that will allow you to continue driving until the date of your administrative hearing. Once you have your administrative hearing, they will either reinstate your license if you win, or your suspension period will begin if you lose.
In addition to the other criminal penalties listed above, if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over twice the legal limit (0.18 or higher), additional penalties may apply. These can include the following:
Misdemeanors are, generally speaking, less serious offenses. But misdemeanor DUI can have very serious consequences, including mandatory jail time. So if you have been charged with a misdemeanor DUI, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your case. I have helped many people charged with misdemeanor DUI in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, Nevada. If you want to discuss your case, call or text me at the number listed above for a free consultation.