Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense in Nevada. DUIs endanger not only the life of the driver but also the lives of other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Every year, thousands of drivers are charged with DUI, and many are injured or killed in accidents caused by impaired drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26% of all traffic fatalities in Nevada were alcohol-related in 2020.
These statistics highlight the severity of DUIs and the importance of enforcing Nevada's DUI laws. By understanding these laws, you can keep yourself and other drivers safe while on the road.
To help you better understand Nevada DUI laws, here’s a closer look at important statutes, penalties for DUIs, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits related to drunk driving, and resources for victims injured by impaired drivers.
Per Se DUIs in Nevada
According to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), “Illegal per se” refers to operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that meets or exceeds the state’s legal limit.
In Nevada, the legal limit for DUI is .08% for adult drivers, .04% for commercial drivers, and .02% for drivers under the age of 21. If you are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC that meets these thresholds, you will be charged with DUI.
Drivers should note that they can still be charged with DUI even if their BAC is lower than the legal limit. Police officers may use other means, such as a field sobriety test, to determine if you are impaired.
You may also be charged with DUI if you are impaired due to the use of any controlled or prohibited substances.
Per Se Limits for Cannabis in Nevada
Nevada is one of few states to also have per se limits for cannabis-related DUIs. While cannabis is legal to consume in the state, it is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
Per Nevada state law, a driver commits an offense if they are found to have two nanograms per milliliter of delta-9 THC or five nanograms per milliliter of 11-hydroxy-THC in their blood.
Implied Consent Law
Nevada has an implied consent law, which means that if you are suspected of driving under the influence, you are required to take a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your BAC. Refusing to take the test can result in a license suspension, and the prosecution may use your refusal as evidence against you in court.
Failure to submit to a test also results in the immediate revocation of your license for a minimum of one year. If a police officer obtains a warrant or court order, they can legally draw a blood sample involuntarily.
Zero Tolerance Law
Nevada has a zero-tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21. You can be charged with a DUI if you are under 21 and have a BAC of .02% or higher. This law is designed to deter young drivers from drinking and driving.
Enhanced Penalties for High BAC Levels
Nevada has enhanced penalties for drivers with high BAC levels. If your BAC is .18% or higher, you may face additional penalties, including a longer license suspension and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
You may face additional child endangerment charges if you are arrested for DUI with a child in the car. The penalties for child endangerment can be severe and may include jail time, fines, and the loss of custody of your child.
All states have ignition interlock programs, which require DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in certain cases.
IIDs disable a vehicle’s engine if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. In most cases, they disable the vehicle if the driver’s BAC is .02% or higher.
Nevada is one of the states that has made IIDs mandatory for all DUI convictions. However, there are some exceptions. Individuals may not be required to install an IID if they demonstrate hardship or need their vehicle to commute to work, obtain medicine, or transport themselves or family members to school.
Can DUIs be Reduced in Nevada?
Nevada state law prohibits prosecutors from reducing or dismissing DUI charges unless there is insufficient evidence to support the charge.
In some cases, a defense attorney may be able to argue that the evidence against the defendant is insufficient due to incorrectly administered sobriety tests, defective blood or breath tests, or law enforcement not having probable cause to make an arrest.
How Long Do DUIs Stay on Your Record in Nevada?
In Nevada, misdemeanor DUI convictions will remain on your record for at least seven years. After this point, you can petition for a record seal, effectively removing the charge from your record. However, felony DUIs cannot be sealed and will remain on your record indefinitely.
Any DUI charges that are dismissed can be sealed immediately, regardless of whether they are misdemeanors or felonies.
Sleeping in Your Vehicle
A common defense in DUI cases is the “sleeping-it-off” defense, which argues that the offender was not actually operating their vehicle and did not intend to operate their vehicle while impaired.
In Nevada, this can be a valid defense, as you must be in physical control of a vehicle while impaired to be charged with DUI.
As a result, you may be able to successfully avoid a DUI conviction if you were asleep in your car, you were not in the driver’s seat, the engine of the car was not running, the car was parked legally, and you would not have been able to drive the car to the location where it was found while under the influence.
However, you can still be charged with a DUI without driving if evidence suggests that you intended to operate your vehicle while impaired. For example, if the engine was running or if the car was illegally parked on the road, this may be used as evidence that you were in physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Nevada?
Driving under the influence in Nevada is a serious offense, and the penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe. The penalties for a DUI conviction in Nevada depend on various factors, such as the driver's blood alcohol content, prior convictions, and the severity of the offense.
Here are the penalties for a DUI offense in Nevada:
2nd Offense (within 7 years)
3rd Offense (within 7 years)
2 days to 6 months (or 48 to 96 hours of community service)
10 days to 6 months in jail or home confinement
1 to 6 years in prison
$400 to $1,000
$750 to $1,000
$2,000 to $5,000
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
In addition to these consequences, offenders may face other penalties, like attending a drug or alcohol treatment program. There are also more substantial penalties for DUIs that result in serious bodily harm or death. These offenses can result in penalties of up to 20 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Nevada Dram Shop Liability Insurance Requirements
Many states have laws that allow injured individuals to seek damages from establishments that serve alcohol after an intoxicated patron causes an accident. These are called dram shop laws and are meant to deter businesses from over-serving customers.
Nevada does not impose dram shop liability against establishments that serve alcohol. Nevada Revised Statutes section 41.1305 essentially makes bars, casinos, restaurants, and other establishments that serve alcohol immune from dram shop liability claims.
Many states also impose dram shop liability against businesses that knowingly serve alcohol to minors; however, this is not the case in Nevada. While bartenders and servers can be charged with a misdemeanor for knowingly serving alcohol to someone under 21, the business that they work for cannot be held liable for any accidents that result from supplying alcohol to a minor.
This doesn’t apply to social hosts, though. Social hosts are anyone who isn’t licensed to sell alcohol. If a social host provides alcohol to someone they know is under 21, and that person accidentally injures someone, the injured party can seek damages from the social host.
Given that establishments in Nevada cannot be held liable for injuries that their intoxicated patrons cause, there are no minimum dram shop liability insurance requirements.
How Much Can Someone Sue For a Drunk Driving Injury in Nevada?
If you are injured in a drunk driving accident in Nevada, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.
Plaintiffs can sue for both economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other damages with a clear monetary value. Noneconomic damages include damages that don’t have a specific monetary value, like pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
While some states impose limits on the amount someone can sue for in a personal injury lawsuit, this is not the case in Nevada. It’s important to record proof of your damages and maintain records of all the expenses you incur due to the accident to maximize your settlement.
The Statute of Limitations in Nevada
The statute of limitations is a legal deadline for filing a lawsuit. Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
In Nevada, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits resulting from a drunk driving accident is two years from the date of the accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
There are a few exceptions that can extend the statute of limitations. For example, if you don’t discover your injury until after the accident, the filing period will be two years from the date you identify your injuries. Also, if you’re a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until you turn 18.
Resources for Folks Injured by an Impaired Driver in Nevada
After an accident involving an impaired driver, it’s important to act quickly to take legal action and get compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Nevada, here are a few resources that you might find useful.
Nevada Victim of Crime Program
The Nevada Victim of Crime Program provides financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including victims of drunk driving accidents.
To qualify for this service, the crime must be reported to the police within five days, you must submit an application within two years of the crime, and you must cooperate with law enforcement during the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
Nevada Office of the Attorney General
The Nevada Office of the Attorney General provides information about victims' rights and resources available to victims of violent crimes. The website also includes information regarding what to do if you are the victim of a crime, including how to report the crime.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a non-profit organization that provides resources and support to victims of drunk driving accidents, including emotional support and assistance with the legal process.
MADD can help victims of drunk driving accidents navigate the criminal and civil justice systems, prepare victim impact statements, connect with local support groups, and find legal assistance.
MADD also helps victims connect with Crime Victim Compensation, a financial assistance program that can help pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, child care, and counseling services.
At Expertise.com, we're passionate about guiding people to find the best in life, whether they're researching how to start a small business, planning a home remodeling project, or discovering a new hobby.