All intoxicated driving is illegal in the state of Nevada and covered by the state’s DUI laws, whether you are driving while impaired by alcohol, marijuana, an illegal drug or substance, a legal prescription, or an over-the-counter medication. If you’re driving in Nevada, absolutely sober is the safest way. Nevada has an extensive list of substances that are banned for drivers, including legal prescription drugs, and Nevada courts impose severe penalties for drugged driving under the state’s DUI laws. If you are charged with DUI for “drugged” driving in the Las Vegas area, immediately retain the advice and services of an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer.
Nevada also has a “per se” or “zero tolerance” prohibition against drugged driving regarding a list of specific drugs. In other words, if the specified quantities of these drugs are found in a driver’s blood or urine, that driver is automatically or “per se” guilty of driving under the influence without regard to the driver’s actual driving behavior. The specific drugs on this list include amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Drivers in Nevada – especially those using any drugs of any kind – should be aware that they can actually be convicted of DUI even if they’re driving soberly.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE A PRESCRIPTION?
Nevada’s drugged driving law bans drivers from being intoxicated under the influence of any controlled substance or “any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound.” Merely having a prescription from a doctor to use a particular drug is not a defense against a drugged driving charge in Nevada. A driver arrested for drugged driving in Nevada will be charged with driving under the influence and is subject to the state’s standard DUI prosecution and penalties.
Apart from alcohol, no one will be surprised to learn that marijuana is the drug most frequently involved in drugged driving DUI cases. Right now in Nevada, it’s a crime to drive a motorized vehicle 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.
WHAT CAN A DUI TEST PROVE?
Blood and urine tests can determine whether a driver has used marijuana; what the tests can’t prove is whether the driver smoked marijuana an hour ago and is currently high or if they consumed a week ago and are stone-cold sober. Blood and urine tests are simply inadequate for determining if someone is driving while actually intoxicated by marijuana. Many users develop a tolerance to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, and THC can remain in the bloodstream for weeks, long after the user is entirely sober.
That doesn’t mean that marijuana and driving isn’t a dangerous combination – it most assuredly is. When medical or recreational marijuana users get behind the wheel, they pose a substantial danger to you and anyone else traveling on our streets and highways. According to US News, marijuana-related fatal traffic accidents in the United States have tripled during the last decade. On average, one out of nine drivers – on any street at any time – would today test positively for marijuana.
In the states that perform standard toxicology tests routinely after fatal traffic crashes, investigators have learned that drugged driving-related fatalities increased from 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in 1999 to 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2010. Marijuana can slow reaction times, impair judgments of time and distance, and decrease motor coordination. Drug experts believe that higher concentrations of THC in the marijuana available today – when compared to the pot available two or three decades ago – means that pot users are more likely to be intoxicated while driving than they were in the past.
Drivers using cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless drivers. Certain kinds of sedatives can cause dizziness and fatigue. Lesser-known substances with street names like “spice” and “bath salts” can have unpredictable and extremely dangerous effects including psychotic behavior. Drugged driving is an increasing threat to anyone traveling on Nevada’s streets and highways, and it’s a rapidly growing and disturbing public safety concern.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES?
In Nevada, if you are arrested while driving under the influence of drugs and charged with DUI, these are the most likely consequences of conviction. A first-offense misdemeanor conviction for DUI means a mandatory 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service, but you could serve up to six months in jail. The fine for a first-offense DUI conviction in Nevada runs from $400 to $1000, which does not include any administrative costs associated with DUI classes, license reinstatement, and other charges and fees. For a second DUI conviction in Nevada, the penalties may include:
- up to six months in jail
- a fine of up to $1,000
- 200 hours of community service
- a one-year driver’s license suspension, and no restricted license will be available
- mandatory DUI school and/or mandatory drug treatment
Third and subsequent Nevada DUI convictions are punishable by a three-year driver’s license suspension, one to six years in prison, and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. A conviction for a DUI incident that results in a fatality is punishable in Nevada by two to twenty years in prison. If you’ve never been convicted of DUI, you do not want to be convicted in Nevada, and if you’re arrested for DUI here, you’ll need to retain legal help immediately.
If you are suspected of drugged driving in Nevada, law enforcement officials may conduct breath, blood, and/or urine testing. There is an implied consent law for breath, blood, and urine testing in this state; simply driving on a Nevada street or highway “implies” that you have already consented to take the test. The implied consent law also requires you to take a preliminary breath test, if requested by a law enforcement officer, even if you have not yet been formally arrested.
CAN REFUSING TO TEST HELP YOU AVOID CONVICTION?
A police officer can use the results of the preliminary test to establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you refuse to take the test, then the officer may seize your driver’s license, formally place you under arrest, and transport you to a police station, hospital, or another facility for a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. Refusing a DUI test may make sense in some cases in some states, but in Nevada, it can’t help you at all because a police officer can use reasonable force, including reasonable physical force, to administer the test. In fact, a prosecutor can use your refusal against you by alleging that you refused the test because you knew that you were impaired and guilty of DUI.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9.9 million people admitted in a 2013 survey that they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the previous year. Do not be part of that 9.9 million. Any DUI charge is a genuine risk to your future and your freedom, but in the Las Vegas area, a good DUI defense lawyer can examine your legal situation and fight hard for the best possible resolution to your DUI case. If you face any DUI charge in the greater Las Vegas area related to marijuana, alcohol, or any other intoxicant, it’s imperative to contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer immediately.