Las Vegas DUI Attorney

las vegas dui attorneyDriving under the influence is not taken lightly in Nevada, but when a person is charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and there were no serious injuries or fatalities involved, it is very possible for the DUI suspect to receive a relatively favorable consequence when all is said and done. If you or a loved one are charged with DUI, it is essential that you contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney right away.

DUI Testing

In Nevada, if the police pull you over because they suspect that you are driving under the influence, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test (FST).

The three tests recommended by the NHTSA are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk-and-Turn (WAT) test, and the One-Leg Stand (OLS). The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is typically administered first. With this test, a police officer is looking for an involuntary jerking motion in a suspect’s eyes. The second test administered is usually the WAT test, which requires a suspect, among other things, to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. Finally, the OLS requires a suspect to stand on one leg for 30 seconds; it also “tests” balance, coordination, and attention to instructions.

Implied consent is part of DUI law in Nevada. This means that simply by possessing a driver’s license, you already automatically consent to taking a blood, breath, or urine test if a law enforcement officer asks you to take one. In some states you may refuse to be tested, but that won’t help you in Nevada.

In this state you may be detained for refusing a DUI test, and law enforcement is authorized to use “reasonable force” to obtain test results from you. Even without proof that your blood alcohol content exceeded .08% (the legal limit for those over 21 in Nevada), you can still be convicted of DUI, based on officer testimony and the premise that your refusal to be tested stemmed from your knowledge of your guilt.

In fact, you may be charged with DUI in Nevada even if you weren’t actually driving. It’s enough in this state to have “actual, physical control” of a vehicle. If you were asleep or passed out behind the wheel, if the engine was running, or if keys were in the ignition, you may be legally considered in actual, physical control of a vehicle, and you may be arrested and charged with DUI on that basis.

You may also be charged with a DUI if you are believed to be under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, marijuana remains in a person’s system for days after the intoxication has faded. Currently, it’s a crime to drive in Nevada if your blood contains 2 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana, 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite, or if your urine contains 10 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana or 15 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite. Blood and urine tests can prove a driver consumed marijuana; what the tests can’t prove is when.

First, Second and Third Time Offenders

Anyone suspected of DUI for the first time in Nevada, assuming nobody was seriously hurt or killed, faces up to six months in jail or up to 96 hours of community service, fines up to $1,000, a suspension of driving privileges for up to 90 days, the installation of a Breath Interlock Device (BID) for up to 36 months in some cases, and the requirement to enroll in a DUI and alcohol awareness program, among other risks.

Offenders between the ages of 18 and 20 are tried as adults. Minors under 18 who are charged with a misdemeanor DUI offense are normally prosecuted in juvenile court. However, if the severity of the crime rises to the level of a felony, the minor can be tried as an adult in criminal court, and standard adult penalties will apply.

On a second offense, the suspect faces up to six months in jail or residential confinement, fines up to $1,000 or community service, revocation or suspension of driving privileges for up to a year, the installment of a BID for up to 36 months, and the requirement to enroll in an alcohol and substance abuse program.

Third time offenders of DUI in Nevada face up to six years behind bars, fines up to $5,000, the revocation or suspension of driving privileges for up to three years, and the installment of a BID for up to 36 months following release from confinement.

Your driver’s license will automatically be suspended if you do not request a DMV administrative hearing to challenge the imminent suspension. The driver’s license revocation procedure is separate from your criminal DUI case.

Requesting a DMV hearing might also enhance your ability to win your criminal DUI case. It gives your attorney an opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer about the situation that led to your arrest. If a law enforcement officer confesses to an error during the investigation, your lawyer can use a transcript of that admission as evidence in your upcoming criminal DUI trial. Act quickly; you’ll only have a limited time to ask for an administrative hearing, and a good DUI defense lawyer needs as much time as possible to prepare your case.

For DUI Offenses that Result in Injury or Death

When a person who is found to have been driving under the influence causes an accident that results in another person being injured or killed, then the DUI suspect faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars and fines of up to $5,000.  In the event that the suspect in a DUI accident which results in another person’s injury or death has three prior DUI convictions, the suspect faces up to a lifetime behind bars.

In an effort to deter driving under the influence, state legislatures made laws that limited the discretion that prosecutors could exercise to reduce charges.  Unless there is no strong evidence against the suspect, prosecutors are required by law to bring certain charges against those suspected of DUI.

Avoiding DUI

If you’re charged with DUI anywhere in the Las Vegas area, you’ll need to contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI defense attorney immediately. A much better idea, of course, is avoiding a DUI charge completely. Here are some recommendations for doing that:

  • Know precisely where your license, registration, and proof of insurance are located. Arresting officers often say that a DUI suspect “fumbled” for the license or registration, and then fumbling is offered as evidence of intoxication.
  • If a police officer signals you to stop, stop safely and immediately. Place your hands on top of the steering wheel.
  • Remain polite and compliant; being a bit humble can’t hurt either. After you’ve produced your license, registration, and proof of insurance, answer no questions; don’t try to explain anything. You are not required to answer questions; you have the right to remain silent. Simply say, “I would prefer not to answer any questions without an attorney present.”

Be careful when you’re driving, because if you make any driving mistakes while the police are watching, you could conceivably be accused of driving under the influence. Almost anyone who is charged with DUI – when there’s no accident – is charged because a police officer’s attention was drawn to the vehicle by an abnormal driving pattern. However, due to the landmark Navarette v. California case, police officers can also pull you over based solely on an anonymous tip that you are driving under the influence.

Don’t Fight a DUI Without a Las Vegas DUI Attorney

Anyone who has been charged with driving under the influence should never try to face such serious charges on their own.  Even first time offenders face up to six months behind bars, which is why anyone facing DUI charges in Las Vegas can’t afford to let anyone but an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney, like one of the attorneys with the Fletcher Firm, handle the case.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney could challenge the legality of the traffic stop, offer the “rising blood alcohol” defense, or explain that a medical condition skewed your results.

Not only will an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney from the Fletcher Firm help the suspect respond to the charges filed, but he or she can also help the suspect negotiate for less severe penalties if the suspect is found guilty of any of the charges.

For example, the maximum time that a first time offender can spend behind bars for a DUI which results in no injury or death is six months, but the minimum amount of time is two days.  With such a big difference between the minimum and maximum sentence, arguing for a reduced sentence can be just as important to the suspect as arguing for an acquittal.