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Misdemeanor DUI Attorney in Las Vegas

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).

Criminal and Administrative Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI

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.

Potential criminal penalties for first misdemeanor DUI:

  • Attend the "Victim Impact Panel" (a one-time live presentation about victims of DUI accidents)
  • Complete DUI School
  • Attend Coroner’s Program (a one-time in-person presentation held at the Clark County Coroner’s Office)
  • Jail time of 2 days minimum and 6 months maximum
  • Performance of not less than 48 hours and not more than 96 hours of community service
  • Pay a fine that is between $400 to $1,000 plus additional court costs

Administrative Penalties for First Misdemeanor DUI

Until recently, the standard administrative penalty for a first misdemeanor DUI was a 90-day suspension of your driver's license and a $35 civil penalty fee. However, with the passage of SB 259, the suspension period has now increased for any DUI arrests that occur on or after October 1, 2018.

For any arrests that occur on or after October 1, 2018, a person’s license will now be suspended for 185 days. A person may apply for a restricted license halfway through that suspension period, which would be 93 days.

A second added penalty is that of the breath interlock device. Previously breath interlock devices were only ordered in felony DUI cases or in misdemeanor DUI cases where the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was over twice the legal limit (0.16 or greater).

However, SB 259 now makes breath interlock devices mandatory for anyone who is convicted of a DUI for a total of six months. It is also required for anyone seeking to obtain a restricted license. It does not matter whether the DUI was alcohol or drug related, which seems strange when you consider the fact that a breath interlock device is only capable of detecting alcohol.

Additionally, refusal to submit to a blood or breath test will result in a one-year suspension of a person’s driving privileges regardless of whether the person has any prior DUI convictions.

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 93 days into your suspension assuming you can demonstrate a real need (transportation to and from work is one of the most common needs cited).

Potential criminal penalties for second misdemeanor DUI:

  • Attend and pay for a Victim Impact Panel
  • Complete and pay for DUI School
  • Complete and pay for Traffic School
  • Incarceration for not less than 10 days and not more than 6 months OR residential confinement for not less than 10 days and not more than 6 months
  • Pay a fine that is between $750 to $1,000 plus additional court costs OR perform an equivalent amount of community service
  • Complete an alcohol/drug dependency evaluation
  • Complete an alcohol/drug treatment program

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.

Administrative Penalties for Second Misdemeanor DUI

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.

Additional Criminal Penalties for High Blood Alcohol Level

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:

  1. Submitting to an "alcohol evaluation" and any recommended follow-up treatment, including participating in an alcohol treatment program;
  2. Wearing a "SCRAM bracelet" (a device that is worn around the ankle and can detect whether the person wearing it drinks alcohol);
  3. Installing a "Breath Interlock Device" in your vehicle for 12 to 36 months. This device prevents a vehicle from being started without someone first blowing into the device and testing under the legal alcohol limit.

Defending Misdemeanor DUI

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 Las Vegas 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.

Our Recent Victories

Our attorney uses the experience she has with particular crimes, judges, and prosecutors to properly advise clients on realistic outcomes and to best anticipate possible strengths or weaknesses in their case. Having this experience allows us to read through fact patterns and quickly pick out all viable defenses that are most favorable to the client. For these reasons and more, we have achieved many favorable results in a wide range of practice areas.

  • Case Dismissed Battery Domestic Violence
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case dismissed Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm
  • Case Dismissed Charged with Malicious Destruction of Private Property
  • Case Dismissed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Home Invasion
  • Reduced to Battery Charged with Attempt Murder with a Deadly Weapon
  • Reduced to Misdemeanor Charged with Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon