Understanding Felony DUI Charges: What Makes a DUI a Felony?

Despite a concerted effort by the government and advocacy groups to get people to stop driving under the influence, people still get behind the wheel after imbibing alcohol or taking recreational drugs. While this is true everywhere in the United States, it is especially prevalent in Las Vegas. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you need to know what makes DUI a felony in Nevada.

Felony DUI in Las Vegas, Nevada

What Constitutes a DUI According to Nevada Law?

Nevada law makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway or be in control of a vehicle if any of the following apply:

  • You are under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
  • You have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in your blood or breath.
  • You are found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.08 or more in his or her blood or breath.
  • You are under the influence of a controlled substance, chemical, poison, or organic solvent.
  • You are under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance.
  • You have an unlawful blood level of certain drugs (as defined in the statute).

When Is a DUI a Felony in Las Vegas?

Absent aggravating circumstances, a first or second DUI within seven years is charged as a misdemeanor in Nevada. If you are arrested and charged for a third DUI within those seven years, however, you will be charged with a Class B Felony and face a potential term of imprisonment of one to six years along with a fine of $2,000 to $5,000, mandatory attendance at a victim impact panel, a license suspension of three years, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for one to three years (at your expense).

Another way that a DUI can be charged as a felony in Las Vegas is if you have a previous felony conviction for driving under the influence. In that case, it does not matter when you were convicted, it just matters that the previous conviction was for a felony DUI. Sentencing for a conviction with a previous felony conviction is the same as for a third DUI within seven years.

A third scenario in which a DUI can be elevated to a Class B felony in Las Vegas is when you cause substantial bodily harm or death during the commission of the offense. If convicted, you could be sentenced to prison for two to 20 years, in addition to a license suspension, required victim impact panel, and installation of an ignition interlock device.

Finally, a DUI can be charged as a Class A Felony in Nevada if you cause the death of another person (vehicular homicide) while driving under the influence, and you have three or more previous convictions for DUI. Again, it does not matter how long ago you were convicted of prior DUIs, only that you have three or more convictions. If convicted of DUI causing vehicular homicide, you will face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

What Should I Do If I Am Charged with Felony DUI in Las Vegas?

If you have been charged with felony DUI in Las Vegas, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Vegas Lawyers immediately as there may be defenses available to you that can avoid a DUI conviction that will negatively impact you for many years to come. Call us at 702-707-7000 or contact us online.