Last year during and after the Super Bowl, Las Vegas Metro police made 28 arrests at a single sobriety checkpoint for driving under the influence. If you’re making bets on the big game – between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, February 7 – you can bet that the Las Vegas Metro police and virtually every other state and local police agency in the country will be actively looking for intoxicated drivers on the nation’s streets and highways. Police departments everywhere will add extra patrol units for the Super Bowl, conduct DUI checkpoints, and make scores of DUI arrests. Your chance of being charged with DUI – or of being in an accident with a drunk driver – almost doubles on the day of the Super Bowl.
“The Super Bowl, like the holidays, is something that does attract a lot of celebration,” Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Loy Hixson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “and we want to get these dangerous drivers off the road.” Of the 284 traffic deaths on Nevada roadways in 2014, 74 involved drivers intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, Hixson added. Driving under the influence is treated as a serious crime in the state of Nevada, so if you plan to enjoy the game and some drinks with friends, you must arrange for safe transportation. The most important driving safety rule – on Super Bowl Sunday and year-round – is never drink and drive for any reason or under any circumstances. Always wait until you are sober and alert – which usually means the next day.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DUI?
If you are charged with DUI in the Las Vegas area, contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney as quickly as possible. Do not plead guilty to driving under the influence, and do not try to act as your own lawyer. DUI law is complicated, and too much is at risk. What are the penalties if you are convicted in Nevada? If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI in this state, the penalties may include:
- up to six months in jail or 96 community service hours
- a $1,000 fine
- a 90-day driver’s license suspension
- mandatory attendance at a DUI school or drug treatment program.
A second DUI conviction in Nevada is punishable with up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and 200 hours of community service as well as court-ordered education or treatment. Subsequent Nevada DUI convictions can mean a three-year driver’s license suspension, up to six years in prison, and fines up to $5,000. Even more seriously, a conviction for a DUI-related fatality is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. While some motorists are falsely arrested and charged for driving under the influence, there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to drive while intoxicated in or near Las Vegas. Public and private alternative transportation services are everywhere, and most are available 24/7. If you plan to drive on Super Bowl Sunday – or any other time – don’t drink – period. If you plan to enjoy the game and some drinks, plan ahead for a designated driver, a limo, a car service, or a taxicab. A friend’s sofa or a room for the night are some other options.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED?
However, there’s even more to consider. In addition to the legal penalties for a DUI conviction, if a Nevada prosecutor can convict you of driving under the influence, your employment prospects and auto insurance rates will be very negatively impacted. If you drive for a living, you may have to find other work. If you are an immigrant in Nevada and you are convicted of driving under the influence, the government may consider deportation. If you’re involved in a child custody battle, a DUI conviction clearly cannot help you. And if you hold a professional license or a security clearance, that license or clearance will probably be challenged and possibly revoked if you are convicted of DUI.
Of course, the Super Bowl attracts gamblers – especially in Las Vegas – but the smart bet on Super Bowl Sunday is the same advice that’s good throughout the year – Don’t Drink and Drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends arranging safe transportation to your destination on Super Bowl Sunday as well as a safe return trip. That way, you won’t even have your vehicle if you’ve been drinking, and you won’t be tempted to drive. Anyone’s judgment can get cloudy after several drinks, so take no chances, especially on the day of the Super Bowl.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A TRAFFIC STOP?
Police officers stop far more drivers on Super Bowl Sunday than they would typically stop on a Sunday night in the winter. If a law officer motions for you to pull over, or if the flashing lights start flashing behind you, pull over at once but cautiously, and park away from moving vehicles. Don’t speak first – let the police officer do that. Keep your hands on top of the wheel. Be your best friendly-and-polite self. The officer will probably ask for your license and registration, and you may get a ticket or just a warning. But if you’re polite and you are not drunk, you should have no worries about a DUI charge.
However, if a law officer asks you additional questions after you produce your registration and your driver’s license, you are not obligated to respond. Instead, you can politely say something like, “I prefer to exercise my right to remain silent.” Silence – or more precisely, your right to avoid saying anything that might be used against you – is your right whether or not you have been arrested or your rights have been read to you. You are not required to consent to a search, either, but never resist a police officer. Cooperate, but insist firmly on your rights.
“Implied consent” is part of the Nevada DUI laws. If you have a Nevada driver’s license, or if you merely drive on a Nevada street or highway, you have legally implied your consent to take a blood, breath, or urine examination for driving under the influence if a law enforcement officer asks you to take one. In some states, you may legally refuse to be tested for DUI until you are formally arrested, but Nevada does not offer drivers that choice. Nevada law even gives the police the authority to use “reasonable force” to obtain a DUI test result from you.
In Nevada and 37 other states on Super Bowl Sunday, police departments will set up scores of sobriety checkpoints, and thousands of drivers will be stopped at those checkpoints. A sobriety checkpoint is simply a temporary and random roadblock where officers briefly detain and question drivers. Some drivers will be tested for driving under the influence, and some will be arrested and charged. Another smart bet for Super Bowl Sunday is that law enforcement agencies will be conducting several DUI checkpoints in and around the Las Vegas area.
Drivers in Las Vegas should also know that a DUI arrest actually triggers two separate procedures by the state: an administrative proceeding conducted by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your driver’s license, and the criminal DUI proceeding. Simply being arrested for driving under the influence means that your license can be suspended even if you are eventually cleared of the DUI charge. An experienced DUI defense attorney may also be able to help you keep your driver’s license, but you must make the call as soon as possible after a DUI arrest. For a first DUI offense in Nevada, your driver’s license is typically suspended for 90 days, but after 45 days, you may ask the DMV to let you drive with a restricted license.
HOW CAN A DUI LAWYER HELP?
If you are arrested and accused of driving under the influence, and you take your case to a good DUI attorney, that attorney will examine every detail of the traffic stop and questioning that led to your arrest, the arrest itself, and any DUI test that was administered. If your rights were violated during a traffic stop, search, interrogation, or arrest, your attorney will bring that violation to the court’s attention. DUI tests must be administered according to precise guidelines, and if those guidelines were violated, it can cast doubt on the test result – and the rest of the state’s case against you. However, if the evidence against you is persuasive and you are in fact guilty of driving under the influence, your attorney will fight for reduced or alternative sentencing. Your DUI lawyer will explain your rights and your options at every stage of the case and will fight aggressively on your behalf for the best possible resolution.
Keep the Super Bowl fun this year. Don’t drink and drive. Help your friends to get home safely too – you might even consider being their designated driver. If you are charged with DUI in or near Las Vegas despite taking precautions – or if you are falsely arrested for driving under the influence – don’t plead guilty. Instead, fight the charge and contact a good Las Vegas DUI attorney right away. DUI help is available, but you must take the step and make the call.