What Happens When I Get My First DUI?

Nevada is perhaps the toughest state in the nation when it comes to strict laws and penalties for driving under the influence. However, mistakes can and do occur, which is why there are some alternatives for those charged with a first offense.

If you are facing a first time DUI, your first move should be to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to help you minimize the impact of these charges.

What to Expect After Being Charged with First Time DUI

Typically, the first DUI offense will be charged as a misdemeanor unless you get into a crash that causes substantial injuries or someone else’s death. However, assuming it’s your first offense and no one was injured or killed, this first time DUI will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days.

Here’s where a lawyer really comes in handy – most people don’t realize they have seven days to request a hearing before the DMV to appeal and halt the suspension of driving privileges. While you’ll still be facing charges from the prosecution, with the hearing from the DMV, they will access your national records. If they find no other active suspensions or revocations in another state, they will clear you for a temporary driver’s license.

This temporary license will remain valid through the date of your hearing in front of an administrative law judge. If they rule in your favor, you can get your permanent driver’s license. However, if it is revoked, you may apply for a restricted driver’s license after 45 days. Once the entire 90-day revocation is over, you will need to apply to have your license restored.

Typical Punishments for First DUI Offense

Now that you know what will happen with your driver’s license, you’ll be facing your alleged charges at trial. The penalties and punishments for DUI, even the first one, can be incredibly harsh in Nevada.

If you are convicted, you could receive up to 6 months in jail. You may get lucky though and be ordered to provide 48 to 96 hours of community service. Fines of up to $1,000 along with court costs should be expected too, though the average tends to hover around $600.

With a conviction, you will have your driver’s license suspended for six months and pay a civil penalty of $35. In some cases, you may have the option to install a breath interlock device on your vehicle.

Additionally, you may be required to attend DUI school. This eight-hour program focuses on alcohol awareness and traffic safety. While it can usually be completed online, you’ll have to pay the fee for the course, which is usually $150. You may also need to attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel, which will cost you $40.

These are typical punishments for a first-time DUI offense in Nevada. If you were convicted of DUI in Nevada or elsewhere in the country, your recent arrest may be deemed a first time offense if seven years or more has elapsed. But beware – if you have a child under the age of 15 with you when you are arrested for DUI or cause a catastrophic accident, you will face harsher punishments. 

DUI Treatment Program Options for First Time DUI Offenders

With an attorney, you will stand a far greater chance of having charges dropped or negotiating a gentler penalty. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) was less than 0.18, the law states that you may apply to attend an alcohol treatment program to avoid jail time.

For this option, you’ll have to agree to be diagnosed formally as an alcoholic or drug addict. You’ll also need to foot the bill for the cost of treatment. You will have to serve a minimum of one day in jail, though more likely, it will be 24 hours of community service. There will be 80 days of house arrest with no alcohol permitted inside your home. Checking in with the judge regularly is required, plus electronic monitoring, random alcohol and drug testing, and counseling through a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

While it sounds much easier to complete, keep in mind this program lasts a minimum of six months. Failure to complete it may result in receiving a full sentence from the judge. 

Will I Go to Jail for My First DUI Offense?

It’s certainly possible to be sent to jail even for a first DUI. However, it is much less likely with the alternate options, especially if you have an attorney to help you. A DUI lawyer can help defend you and potentially preserve your freedom.

Often, there are problems with field sobriety tests. Many officers aren’t properly trained on how to administer them. When this happens, they make critical mistakes when providing the instructions for these tests as well as rating the performance.  

Other problems arise with medical conditions that can cause the breathalyzer to falsely register higher BAC readings. Things like acid reflux, GERD, diabetes, hypoglycemia, or even following a low-carb diet may be to blame. Your attorney can prove you weren’t intoxicated by compiling your medical records and bringing in an expert medical witness. 

Why You Need a Lawyer to Face Your First DUI

Immediately after you are arrested for your first DUI, you must contact an experienced defense lawyer. They will analyze every aspect of the situation to find the best defense in your situation. With a lawyer, they may be able to show that the testing equipment was either not correctly used or malfunctioned. Additionally, an officer still needs probable cause to pull you over while you’re driving. Your lawyer will look for this as well as evidence from videos, medical records, eyewitnesses, and expert testimony.

Being arrested for DUI in Nevada is a stressful experience because the punishments and penalties are so strict. However, it doesn’t always mean you’ll need to serve jail time. Your defense attorney will inspect it from every angle and look for ways to minimize the impact of this situation on your future.

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