Driving under the Influence of Drugs in Nevada (NRS 484C.110)


In Nevada, it’s not only illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, but of drugs as well. The penalties for a drug DUI are like those of alcohol DUI.

Definition of driving under the influence of drugs.

The legal definition of driving under the influence of drugs in Las Vegas, Nevada (DUID), is two-fold:

  1. Someone can be arrested for drugged driving in Nevada for operating a vehicle while under the influence of any "chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle." Therefore, it is a crime in Nevada to drive under the influence of not only illegal drugs but also prescription medications like sleep aids (Ambian), narcotic pain killers (Hydrocodone), benzodiazepines (Xanax), over-the-counter meds like Nyquil, or any other substance if it is causing the driver to lose control of the car or to drive unsafely.
  2. Someone can also be arrested for drugged driving in Nevada for operating a vehicle "with an amount of a prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine that is equal to or greater than":

Prohibited substance

Urine Nanograms per milliliter

Blood Nanograms per milliliter

(a) Amphetamine

500

100

(b) Cocaine

150

50

(c) Cocaine metabolite

150

50

(d) Heroin

2,000

50

(e) Heroin metabolite:

     (1) Morphine

2,000

50

     (2) 6-monoacetyl morphine

10

10

(f) Lysergic acid diethylamide (Acid)

25

10

(g) Marijuana

no urine test, just blood

2

(h) Marijuana metabolite

no urine test, just blood

5

(i) Methamphetamine (Meth)

500

100

(j) Phencyclidine

25

10

The Arrest

Once a driver has been pulled over, a Field Sobriety test is performed together with a Breathalyzer test. Someone under the influence of drugs will likely fail the field sobriety test but pass the breathalyzer test, which will alert the officer the driver may be under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol.Nevada has an implied consent law.  That means we all agreed to these tests when we accepted our driver’s licenses. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic 1 year license suspension.The police officer has the right to use what is called ‘reasonable force’, i.e. handcuffs to administer the tests. As a matter of course the police will usually seek a judicial warrant if you are refusing the tests. Refusing a blood or urine test may also be used against you in court during a trial.

The driver’s license may not be immediately confiscated, like in DUI cases with alcohol. The license won’t be suspended until a blood test comes back positive, something that can take up to a few weeks or even longer. The suspension will arrive by mail from Nevada DMV by registered mail.

An arrest does not automatically mean a conviction. A defense attorney will look at your case and see if there is anything that can be done to dismiss the case or reduce penalties. Some of the most common defenses are:

  • Lack of probable cause for a traffic stop. An officer needs a valid reason to make a stop, such as the driver driving incompetently or committing a traffic violation.
  • Mishandling of equipment or using faulty equipment. This could raise reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissed case.
  • Failure to meet statutory requirements or constitutional requirements

Penalties

A DUI drug conviction in Nevada is usually a misdemeanor, unless it is your third offense in 7 years or caused substantial harm or death to another person. In that case the conviction will automatically be charged as a felony.

Below are the standard Nevada penalties, which are basically the same as drunk driving penalties.

First DUI

  • 2 days to 6 months in jail or 24 hours to 96 hours of community service (the court typically orders a suspended jail sentence of 6 months)
  • DUI school
  • $400 to $1,000 in fines plus court costs
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • 90 days suspension of your driver's license (you usually can get a restricted license after 45 days)

Second DUI

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail orresidential confinement
  • $750 to $1,000 in fines or community service
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • An alcohol/drug dependency evaluation (costs $100)
  • License suspension or revoked for 1 year,
  • An intensive drug abuse treatment

Third DUI (in 7 years)

  • 1 - 6 years in prison
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • License suspended or revoked for 3 years,
  • An alcohol & drug evaluation

DUI causing injury or death

  • 2 to 20 years in prison
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • The charge for DUID causing injury or death, with 3 or more previous DUI convictions will be Vehicular Homicide. The prison time for Vehicular Homicide is 25 years to life, with a chance of parole after 10 years.

If your case isn’t dismissed, there is still a chance your attorney might be able to have the case reduced to Reckless Driving. A reckless driving record can be sealed after one year, as opposed to 7 years for a misdemeanor DUI/DUID

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