Is a DUI a Felony? The Truth Behind DUI Charges

Despite impressive campaigns by both government authorities and private advocacy groups aimed at getting motorists to refrain from driving while under the influence, drunk driving deaths still occur every 50 minutes across the United States and one out of every three motor vehicle crash fatalities involves a driver driving while under the influence. Not surprisingly, penalties for driving under the influence have been increased in many states to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or ingesting a controlled substance. If you have been arrested in Nevada for DUI, it’s important that you understand if a DUI is a felony and the potential penalties involved if you are convicted.

Police cars at site that is a DUI a felony in Las Vegas, Nevada

What Is a DUI in Nevada?

In the State of Nevada, driving under the influence is governed by Nevada Revised Statute § 484C.110 which makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle:

  • While impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
  • While under the influence of a controlled substance.

While most people equate DUI with having a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it is important to understand that you can be charged and convicted of DUI in Nevada without the results of a chemical test or with results indicating a BAC of less than 0.08 percent.

Is a DUI a Felony in Nevada?

Typically, DUI is charged as a misdemeanor in Nevada if it is a first or second offense; however, some circumstances can result in even a first-time DUI being charged as a felony. A DUI may be charged as a felony in Nevada if any of the following apply:

  • Third or subsequent DUI. If you have two prior DUI convictions within the previous seven years, this DUI will be charged as a felony.
  • Prior felony DUI. You will be charged with a felony DUI if you have a previous conviction for a felony DUI.
  • Injury or death. If you cause substantial bodily harm to another person while driving under the influence, you can be charged with felony DUI.
  • Vehicular homicide. If you have at least three prior DUI convictions, and you caused a death, you can be charged with DUI as a felony.

What Penalties Do I Face If Convicted of DUI in Nevada?

The potential penalties for a DUI conviction in Nevada will depend on whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, you may be sentenced to spend two days to six months in jail, pay a fine of $400-$1,000, and be required to install (and pay for) an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and/or have your driving privileges suspended for six months along with a variety of other fees and sentencing requirements. A second DUI conviction carries a minimum sentence of ten days in jail, a license suspension of one year, and increased fines and fees.

If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Nevada, the potential penalties increase significantly. A third DUI conviction within seven years is charged as a Class B felony and carries with it a sentence of one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and a three-year license suspension. For a vehicular homicide conviction, you could be sentenced to life in prison in Nevada.

Whether you are convicted of DUI as a misdemeanor or felony, there are a multitude of additional non-judicial penalties to consider, such as lost employment opportunities, increased insurance rates, and problems with your immigration status if you are not a United States citizen.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Charged with DUI in Nevada?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Nevada, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Vegas Lawyers right away to discuss possible defenses and to better understand your legal options. You can reach us by calling 702-707-7000 or