Las Vegas provides 24-hour active nightlife, attracting locals and vacationers alike. Unfortunately, nearly 2,000 drunken driving arrests per 100,000 residents were made in 2022 alone. Over the last five years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported 35 fatal DUI crashes between 9 am and 3 pm, cites Las Vegas Review Journal. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in Las Vegas. A DUI arrest and subsequent conviction can have long-term consequences in every area of one’s life.
1. Laws Governing Driving Under the Influence in Las Vegas
Under the Nevada “illegal per se” law, driving with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limits constitutes an impaired driving offense. In 2003, the BAC level was lowered from 0.10 to 0.08% for regular motorists, 0.04 for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders and 0.02% for drivers under 21.
Note that the same number of drinks may have varying effects on different people. Where one person can drink a couple of wine glasses and be fine to drive, the other may be too drunk after consuming the same amount.
Alcohol has multiple effects on people depending on their size, weight, metabolism, and how much food they consume. Like some medications, alcohol causes lethargy, sleepiness, or lightheadedness. Drinking alcohol while on certain medications can result in a harmful interaction and amplify these effects, leading to difficulty in performing mechanical tasks optimally.
2. Effects of Alcohol on Driving
62% of people killed in crashes involving drunk drivers in 2020 were the drivers themselves, states The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 38% were passengers of drunk drivers, drivers or passengers in other vehicles, or non-occupants such as pedestrians. Although a person with a 0.08% BAC is deemed severely impaired to drive, the report states that even 0.02% BAC can limit driving abilities and increase the risk of causing a fatal accident.
If a driver has a BAC of 0.02% after two drinks, they experience the following symptoms by the time a BAC of over 0.08% is achieved after four or more drinks:
Reduced ability to multitask
Diminished ability to stay in the correct lane and stop when necessary
Compromised coordination ability, steering capacity, tracking objects in motion, or responding to emergency driving situations
Limited ability to concentrate, control speed, accurately perceive immediate surroundings, and process information.
The effects of alcohol on the body vary from person to person. But, an individual’s sex, body composition, amount of alcohol consumed, presence of food, and the liver’s ability to process alcohol are all contributing factors. Additionally, people taking certain medications, including those with health issues that affect alcohol metabolism, may reach high BAC levels much sooner. This information is critical to know, so motorists can exercise better judgment before drinking and driving.
3. Penalties of a First and Subsequent DUI Conviction
Operating a vehicle with BAC at or over the legal threshold of 0.08 for all drivers constitutes an impaired driving offense. When a driver is in physical control of a car while impaired, or with a high BAC, it’s considered a misdemeanor, provided nobody else is critically injured. Standard penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include the following:
Fines ranging from $400 to $1,000
48–96 hours of community service or two days to 6 months in jail
Order to attend an online DUI school and participate in a victim impact panel
A 185-day restricted license is enforced with the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle.
As long as the defendant meets all the other requirements, judges typically do not impose any jail time. However, subsequent DUIs culminating in serious bodily harm carry harsher penalties. Second-time DUI offenses have a 10-day to 6-month mandatory jail time or house arrest, according to the state’s DUI laws. Las Vegas courts also impose fines ranging from $700 to $1,000, which include alcohol dependency evaluation fees of $100.
If the driver returns a 0.18% BAC or higher, a breath interlock device is installed in their vehicle for 12 to 36 months. A one-year Nevada driving privilege suspension with no early reinstatement, a five-year registration suspension, and a $35 civil penalty fee are also imposed. A third DUI conviction is classified as a category B felony, even if no one was hurt. The standard punishment includes:
Attending a victim impact panel
1 to 6 years in a minimum-security facility
Fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000
Having a vehicle breath interlock device for 12 to 36 months after being released from prison
Undergoing a dependency evaluation, and facing a three-year driver’s license suspension or revocation, a five-day registration suspension, and a $35 civil penalty fee.
4. Consequences of a DUI Ending in Death
A DUI that brings about injury or death is considered a category B felony, even if the drunk driver had a clean criminal record before the incident. The standard punishment for a category B felony is 2 to 20 years in prison, fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, and other penalties. DUI convictions causing drunken driving death face vehicular homicide charges.
This is a category A felony punishable by 25 years in prison or life in prison with the chance of parole after ten years. Misdemeanor DUI convictions remain on an offender’s criminal record for seven years before the court can seal them. A felony DUI can never be sealed; a quick Google search can reveal the record during a background search.
DUI convictions also affect a defendant’s driving record and their car insurance claim if found negligent during a car accident. In most companies’ 2023 employment policies, a person arrested for a DUI offense while working with the organization can be lawfully fired. Many people face job loss due to the restrictions imposed by a DUI on their driving abilities.
The penalties for such a conviction are also progressive, becoming far more severe if convicted again. DUI offenders face the possibility of civil consequences, necessitating the services of a seasoned DUI lawyer. Don’t be a statistic; practice safe driving to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.
Moreover, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of post-accident procedures. For instance, many wonder if auto accident settlements are taxable. Additionally, being aware of the timeframe to report an accident can be crucial for legal proceedings.
If you are involved in a car accident, call 702-680-1111 or contact our experienced legal team today, and we will work to get the compensation you deserve.