Felony DUI

Nevada typically charges DUI as a misdemeanor. This offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or a maximum jail term of 6 months. However, “aggravating circumstances” could make a driving under the influence charge to be prosecuted as a felony. Aggravating circumstances that can lead to a felony DUI include two or more prior DUI convictions, a prior felony DUI, and DUI causing injury or death.

Nevada felony DUI conviction can carry 25 years in prison or even life imprisonment, not to mention other additional fines like fees, and license suspension, among others. If you are accused of felony DUI, you can expect the prosecution to aggressively push for the maximum possible punishments. So, you should have an equally aggressive and expert DUI defense attorney to help defend you.

We at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have been defending people facing DUI charges in the Las Vegas area for a long time. We understand the complexities involved in felony DUI cases, so we are ready to help you build a strong defense strategy for charges leveled against you. Get in touch with us to start exploring the possible strategies to defend yourself.

Understanding Nevada Felony DUI Laws

Nevada felony DUI falls under the following categories:

Two or More Priors/ 3rd DUI Charge under NRS 484C.400(1)(c)

Under Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 484C.400(1)(c), a third-time DUI offense within a seven-year period is considered a category B felony. Under this statute, the prosecution needs to prove that you have two prior convictions for driving under the influence, and the current incident did not cause death or injuries. The prior convictions do not have to be Nevada ‘simple’ DUIs—this means a prior DUI conviction within seven years in any US state or territory will be treated as a prior DUI in Nevada.

Here are the possible penalties for category 3rd felony DUI under NRS 484C.400(1)(c):

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of one(1) year and a maximum term of six(6) years.
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Driver’s license revocation period of three years. During your license revocation period, the state may allow you to drive with an ignition interlock device.
  • Mandatory submission to a drug and alcohol addiction evaluation.
  • A requirement to attend a victim impact panel.

Not that if you enter a ‘no contest’ or ‘guilty’ plea, you consent to have any subsequent DUI allegations be charged as felonies.

Prior Felony DUI Conviction under NRS 484C.410

NRS 484C.410 classifies a DUI committed after a prior felony DUI conviction as a category B felony offense. This means that the penalties for this offense are escalated compared to a typical DUI charge. Here are the possible punishments:

  • Imprisonment for a minimum term of two(2) years and a maximum term of 15 years.
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
  • A requirement to attend a victim impact panel.
  • Driver’s license revocation period of three years.
  • Mandatory submission to a drug and alcohol addiction evaluation.

DUI Causing Injury or Death under NRS 484C.430

DUI causing injury or death refers to the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causing harm, injury, or death to another person as a result. It involves operating a vehicle while impaired and causing bodily harm or death to another person.

Generally, the prosecution must prove these elements for DUI causing injury:

  • Impairment — The prosecution must establish that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. This can be proven through chemical tests, field sobriety tests, and other evidence.
  • Causation — It must be demonstrated that impaired driving was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered by another person. This may involve showing that the impaired driver's actions, such as reckless driving or failure to obey traffic laws, directly led to the harm inflicted.
  • Substantial Bodily Harm — The injuries caused to the other person must meet the legal threshold of substantial bodily harm, which typically refers to injuries that are serious and result in significant physical pain, impairment, or disfigurement.

The punishments for DUI causing death or injury are similar to the above category B felonies but with a minimum imprisonment of two years and a maximum imprisonment of 20 years.

Aggravating factors like transporting a minor during the incident will inform the judge's decision on the suitable minimum sentence.

Vehicular Homicide under NRS 484C.440

Nevada Revised Statute 484C.440 defines vehicular homicide as the unlawful killing of another person by the operation of a motor vehicle while the driver is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Vehicular homicide is a category A felony, punishable by either 25 years in prison or life in prison. There is the possibility of parole once 10 years have been served. The court may not grant probation or a suspended sentence in lieu of prison.

Unlike DUI with death under NRS 484C.430, vehicular homicide is a more severe crime that requires the prosecution to establish that the defendant has at least three prior DUI convictions. This offense is also different from vehicular manslaughter under NRS 484B.657, which requires simple negligence as the proof of a fatal crash—vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or six months in jail.

Lack of Probable Cause as a Defense Strategy

Lack of probable cause is a defense strategy that challenges the validity of the initial traffic stop or arrest in a DUI case. It asserts that law enforcement officers did not have sufficient reason to believe that a crime had been committed, thereby violating the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Here's a more detailed explanation of how this defense can be used:

  • Legal Standards: Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop and probable cause to make an arrest. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard, requiring specific and articulable facts that suggest a traffic violation or criminal activity. Probable cause is a higher standard, requiring a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed.
  • Evaluating the Traffic Stop: The defense will examine the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop to determine if the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull over the defendant's vehicle. If the defense can show that there was no valid reason for the traffic stop or that the officer's suspicions were unfounded, it may weaken the prosecution's case.
  • Challenging Observations: The defense may question the officer's observations that allegedly led to the suspicion of DUI. This can include challenging the accuracy or credibility of observations such as erratic driving, weaving within a lane, or other behaviors that the officer interpreted as signs of impairment.
  • Invalidating Field Sobriety Tests: If the officer lacked probable cause to make an arrest but still conducted field sobriety tests (FSTs), the defense can argue that these tests were obtained unlawfully and should be excluded from the evidence. The lack of probable cause undermines the legitimacy of the arrest, which in turn affects the admissibility of subsequent evidence.
  • Suppression of Evidence: If the defense successfully argues that the traffic stop or arrest lacked probable cause, they can file a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful stop or arrest. This can include results from the breathalyzer or blood tests, statements made by the defendant, or any other evidence collected during the unlawful detention.

A defense attorney will study the facts and arguments presented by the prosecution and devise a defense strategy that suits the specific case.

Nevada Felony DUI Court

The Felony DUI Court, also known as the "Serious Offenders Program" (SOP) in Clark County, Nevada, offers eligible third-time DUI defendants an alternative to prison by providing them with the opportunity to complete rehabilitation instead. Successful completion of the program can result in a reduction of the felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor second-time DUI conviction. Here's a breakdown of the eligibility, benefits, application process, and potential outcomes:


Typically, participants must have two prior DUI convictions, be facing a third DUI offense, and demonstrate a willingness to actively engage in rehabilitation and treatment.


The primary benefit of participating in the SOP is the opportunity to avoid imprisonment and have the felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor second-time DUI conviction. This reduction can lead to less severe penalties, such as reduced fines, shorter probation periods, and a potentially lesser impact on your criminal record and future opportunities.

Program Experience

The SOP involves intensive supervision, treatment, and counseling aimed at addressing the underlying issues contributing to the defendant's DUI offenses. Participants are closely monitored, attend regular court appearances, undergo substance abuse treatment, and may be required to participate in other rehabilitative programs. The program's goal is to support the defendant in achieving sobriety, personal growth, and positive behavioral changes.

Application Process

To apply for the SOP, defendants or their legal representatives should appear before District Court, where the defendant must enter a guilty or no contest plea. The defense attorney can then work with the prosecutor and the court to determine eligibility and facilitate the application process. It's essential to have an attorney who is knowledgeable about the SOP and can guide you through the application procedures.

Relapse and Consequences

If a participant relapses during the SOP, consequences can vary depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the court. Possible outcomes may include increased supervision, intensified treatment, additional counseling, stricter conditions, or, in some cases, removal from the program. Relapse does not automatically result in a return to the original felony DUI charge, but it may impact the court's view of the defendant's progress and commitment to recovery.

Note that the court will impose the original punishments for 3rd DUI if you do not finish the program.

Can a Felony DUI Conviction Record Be Sealed?

In Nevada, felony DUI convictions cannot be sealed under current state law. The Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) specify the types of offenses that are eligible for record sealing, and felony DUI is not included in the list of eligible offenses.

If your felony DUI charges are reduced to a misdemeanor, you might be eligible for record sealing. This will happen after a waiting period of seven years. If your charges are dismissed, your record may be sealed right away.

Other Nevada DUI Laws: Misdemeanor DUI

In addition to the felony DUI laws in Nevada, there are several key laws and regulations that apply specifically to misdemeanor DUI offenses. Here are some important aspects of misdemeanor DUI laws in Nevada:

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: The legal limit for alcohol concentration is 0.08% for individuals aged 21 and over. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for individuals under 21 years old, it is 0.02%. If a person is found to have a BAC at or above these limits while operating a motor vehicle, they can be charged with misdemeanor DUI.
  • Penalties: Misdemeanor DUI convictions in Nevada can result in various penalties, including fines, license suspension, mandatory attendance at alcohol education programs, community service, and potentially even jail time. Jail terms for 1st-time offenders range from 48 hours to 6 months and 10 days to 6 months for 2nd-time offenders. Fines range from $400 to $1,000 for 1st-time offenders and $750 to $1,000 for 2nd-time offenders.

Contact a Felony Las Vegas DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we understand the complexities of Nevada DUI laws and the importance of a strong defense strategy to challenge felony DUI charges. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to providing DUI defense services for defendants in Las Vegas. We can help you navigate the legal process, explore potential defenses, and strive for the best possible outcome in your case.

Whether it's challenging the legality of the traffic stop, contesting the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood test results, or presenting mitigating factors to reduce charges, our team will diligently represent you and work towards minimizing the impact of a felony DUI charge.

Don't face the legal system alone. Contact us today at 702-380-4278 to discuss your case.