A common misconception that many people have is that a person can only get arrested or charged with driving under the influence if they’ve been drinking alcohol. This is false. In fact, with Las Vegas’ round the clock party atmosphere, many people are arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI of Drugs (DUID). This means that it’s possible to be convicted of DUI even when you’ve not consumed a single alcoholic beverage. Any impairing substance, whether legal or illegal can lead to a DWI charge if you’re intoxicated and your driving ability impaired. The preliminary Blood Alcohol Concentration limit of .08 common in DUI cases does not apply to cases involving DUI of Drugs in Nevada. Also, the breathalyzer machines cannot be used to establish the presence of drugs on the driver’s breath.
The laws on DUID are very strict. And similar to the typical drunk driving, a conviction for drugged driving in Nevada carries potentially harsh penalties including expensive fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. For this reason, retaining skilled legal counsel can help minimize or eliminate those repercussions. At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, our lawyers stand ready to aggressively defend you and fight for your interests. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation and case review with our experienced DUID attorneys. For experienced legal representation, call us today at 702-380-4278 or complete our online form to get started.
Definition of Driving under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
Under NRS 484C.110, a person can be arrested for DUID if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any poison, an organic solvent, or chemical, or any combination or compound of the aforementioned substances, to the extent that they are rendered incapable of exercising actual physical control of or safely driving a vehicle. As such, it’s a crime in Nevada to drive under the influence illegal drugs and controlled substances as well as prescription drugs such as sleeping pills (such as Ambien or Vicodin), over-the-counter meds (like Nyquil), benzodiazepines (like Xanax), narcotic pain killers (like Hydrocodone), or any other substance that may cause the driver to drive unsafely or lose control of the vehicle.
Also, NRS 484C.110 states maximum amounts of illegal drugs that a person can have in his or her system at the time they are driving. If blood or urine tests reveal that you the amount of drugs in your body is equal to or greater than the legally acceptable limits, you can, and likely will be charged with drugged driving. You can be arrested for DUI of Drugs in Nevada if the amount of prohibited substance in your urine or blood is equal to or greater than the following:
|Prohibited Substance (Drug)||Blood (Nanograms per Milliliter||Urine (Nanograms per Milliliter)|
|Lysergic acid diethylamide (“LSD”)||10||25|
|Marijuana||2||No urine test|
|Marijuana metabolite||5||No urine test|
*metabolite is a substance created and produced in your body after a drug is consumed. This means that even if test results do not detect any of the actual drugs, metabolites at or above these levels are prohibited. What’s more, the presence of metabolites in your system means that you were under the influence of the actual drug when operating the vehicle.
It is unlawful per se to operate a vehicle or drive if your urine or blood contains the minimum prohibited amount of prohibited substances even if you’re driving safely and not impaired.
The DUID Arrest
Once a driver has been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer will take a preliminary breath test and ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). An individual under the influence of drugs is most likely to fail the FSTs but he/she may pass the breathalyzer test. If that happens, the police will take this as a sign that the driver is under the influence of drugs and not alcohol. Drug Recognition Experts (D.R.E.s) may then take over the investigation.
With Nevada’s implied consent law, all drivers are considered to have consented to evidentiary tests administered before and after a DUI arrest once they accept their driver’s license. As such, refusal to submit to the tests will result in an immediate arrest and subjects you to a fine and automatic 1-year driver’s license suspension.
Driver’s License Suspension
Typically, if a person is arrested for drunk driving in Nevada, his or her driver’s license will be immediately confiscated by the police if the person fails a breath test. But when it comes to cases involving drugged driving where the driver only submits to a blood or urine test, license suspension is delayed until after the test results come back positive. This may take weeks or longer following the initial arrest, and the suspension will arrive by mail from the Nevada DMV.
Pursuant to NRS 484.160, all drivers in Nevada are presumed to have given their “implied consent” to submit to a preliminary urine and/or blood test to determine whether a controlled substance, organic solvent, poison, chemical, or another prohibited substance is present in their system if they are pulled over on suspicion of DUID. What’s more, the police officer can seek a judicial warrant or use “reasonable force” such as constraining the driver with handcuffs in order to administer the tests if you’re refusing to submit to them. Evidence of the driver’s refusal to take the chemical test can be used against him or her as evidence during a trial.
Penalties of DUI of Drugs in Nevada
A DUID conviction in Nevada is usually a misdemeanor with fairly standardized penalties. However, the penalties become harsher with each subsequent DUI conviction within a 7-year period, or if the DUID caused substantial injury or death to another person. In such cases, the offense will result in a felony conviction. The following are the standard Nevada penalties for drugged driving, which are similar to drunk driving penalties:
First DUI of Drugs
- $400 to $1,000 in fines plus court costs of about $600
- 2 to 6 days in jail OR 24 to 96 hours of community service (usually 6 months of suspended jail sentence)
- DUI school
- Nevada Victim Impact Panel
- 90 days suspension of driver’s license. If you apply for a restricted driver’s license, you can get it after 45days
Second DUI of Drugs (within 7 years of the first one)
- Fines ranging from $750 to $1,000
- 10 days to 6 months in jail or residential confinement
- Community service for 100 to 200 hours
- Nevada Victim Impact Panel
- An intensive drug abuse treatment (DUI court)
- A drug/alcohol dependency evaluation (costs $100)
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation for 1 year
A third DUI of Drugs (within 7 years of the first one)
While first and second DUID convictions within 7 years are typically misdemeanors in Nevada, a third DUID offense is classified as a Category B Felony. The penalties include:
- $2,000 to $1,000 in fines
- 1 to 6 years confinement in Nevada prison
- Victim Impact Panel
- Alcohol and drug evaluation
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation for 3 years, a $35 civil penalty fee, and 5-day car registration suspension
DUI of Drugs Causing Injury or Death
If a driver under the influence of drugs causes an accident that results in death or injury of a third party, the driver faces a Category B Felony. Punishment includes:
- Fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000
- 2 to 20 years in state prison
- License revocation for 3 years
State DUI laws limit prosecutors’ discretion to reduce the charges through a plea bargain unless the evidence is weak. The charge for DUID causing injury or death, with three or more prior DUI convictions will be considered a Nevada Vehicular Homicide, which is a Category A felony. The punishment for this offense is up to 25 years to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after ten years.
In addition to the legal penalties for Drug DUI in Nevada, a conviction can have other negative consequences on your personal life, including:
- A criminal conviction on your record
- Limitations on your housing opportunities
- Impairment of future employment opportunities
- Loss of job, especially if you highly depend on your driver’s license to carry out your work
- Negative impact on college admission applications, including financial aids program and scholarship eligibility
These and other negative impacts on your personal life will be more significant if you have more than one DUI or DUID conviction.
Possible Defense to DUID in Nevada
In Nevada, being arrested for violating drugged driving laws doesn’t result in an automatic conviction. In order to secure a guilty plea, the prosecutor must satisfy an extremely high standard of proof. Even if the evidence against you is strong, a seasoned defense attorney may be able to have the charges reduced or get the case dismissed based on technicalities. Here are some defense strategies that the attorneys at the Law Offices of Martin Hart can use to fight DUI of Drug charges:
The Driver Was Not Under the Influence of Any Drug
If the prosecutor is unable to prove that the driver was driving under the influence of drugs, the DUID charge can’t stand.
Lack of Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop
Apart from certain checkpoints, police are not allowed to stop anyone just to see if they’re under the influence. To have “probable cause” for the traffic stop means that the police must observe the driver drive in an incompetent manner or commit a traffic violation. A traffic stop without probable cause violates your rights. A Nevada DUID defense attorney can challenge the legality of the traffic stop by arguing to the charge why the officer lacked probable cause to pull you over. If the judge agrees, your case will be dismissed.
Faulty testing equipment or mishandling
Establishing that the test was administered incorrectly or the drug testing equipment was dysfunctional or that samples taken were mishandled and contaminated may be enough to raise a reasonable doubt that the driver was truly under the influence of drugs. Also, being able to show that the certification of the drug was expired may get your charges dropped.
Lack of Causation in DUI Drug with Injury or Death
In Nevada, a driver can’t be convicted of DUID causing death or injury if the accident was not directly as a result of the drugged driving itself. The driver should not be convicted if an attorney can show that something else other than the driving instigated the injuries or death, or that the victim was totally at fault.
If an individual is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Nevada and your case is not dismissed, your defense attorney may successfully get the charges reduced to Reckless Driving. This is an offense that carries less of a stigma than DUID and can be sealed after 1 year as opposed to 7 years for a first or second DUID.
Driving with a DUID License Suspension
If your driver’s license has been suspended as a result of a Nevada DUID, you may seek a DMV hearing to contest the suspension and get a “temporary driver’s license.” And once the license suspension period is halfway through, you may obtain a restricted license to allow you to drive to and from work and carry out any other household tasks.
Finding a Nevada DUI of Drugs Attorney Near Me
Nevada takes drugged driving seriously and when your future is at stake, it’s important that you protect your rights by hiring an experienced, aggressive and effective DUI of Drugs attorney to represent you. At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we’ll investigate every aspect of your case and prepare a well-supported and persuasive defense strategy. You can’t afford to risk losing your legal rights and your freedom. We know the law, the court process, the possible course of action, and the defenses if your case goes to trial.