DUI is the most frequently committed crime in the United States. In Las Vegas in July 2012 (prior to July 4), the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had already arrested 5,356 motorists for DUI. One month later, this number swelled to 6,121 arrests. Las Vegas attracts visitors from far and wide and is known for its clubs, bars, hotels and casinos. DUI arrests are quite common in our state, but that does not mean that every individual charged with DUI is guilty. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and field sobriety and breathalyzer test results can both be inaccurate.
At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., I understand that being charged with DUI is a frightening experience. If you are looking for seasoned answers, counsel and guidance during this overwhelming time, I can help you.I have more than 16 years of legal experience behind me, extensive courtroom experience, and a stellar record of charge dismissals and reductions.
Call my office today to schedule your free case evaluation and to secure the legal services of a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney you can trust implicitly! Check out the answers to common DUI FAQs below and contact me today for more information at (702) 930-5881! Let my knowledge and experience alleviate your fears and make this process easier.
- Q: What symptoms does an officer look for when he/she pulls a DUI suspect over?
- A: A police officer cannot pull you over unless he observes erratic driving behavior (for example, you swerving into the other lane), a maintenance problem (for example, your break lights are out) or you breaking the law (for example, you ran a red light or were speeding). Common signs that a driver is impaired include:
- Turning too widely
- Swerving between lanes
- Near collisions with people/objects
- Driving off-road
- Stopping in the road for no reason
- Uneven braking
- Driving into oncoming traffic
- Slow response to traffic lights/signs
- Sudden speed changes
- Driving without headlightsOnce a police officer has pulled you over, he will look for certain symptoms before asking you to complete a field sobriety and breathalyzer (or blood/urine) test. Common signs of intoxication include:
- A flushed face
- Red eyes
- Alcohol breath
- Slurred speech
- Struggling to retrieve license
- Inability to understand officer’s questions
- Difficulty exiting the vehicle
- Inability to remain balanced while standing
- Aggressive behavior
- Inability to follow directions
- Q: What is blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?
- A: Blood alcohol content is used as a metric of alcohol intoxication for legal purposes. It is expressed as a percentage of alcohol in the blood. For example, if your BAC level was 0.08 that means it was 0.08% of your blood. In Nevada the illegal BAC limit is:
- 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21
- 0.04% for commercial license holders
- 0.08% for all drivers
- Q: What can happen to me if I refused to take a chemical test?
- A: Nevada has an implied consent law. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test than you will automatically be subject to a fine and license suspension. When an individual refuses to take a chemical test, an officer can direct that reasonable force be used to obtain a blood sample.
- Q: What should I do after an arrest?
- A: After you have been arrested and formally charged with DUI, it is imperative that you secure legal representation immediately. Do not make any errors that could jeopardize your case! It is also important that you collect all important information such as court dates and documents.
- Q: What offenses can I be charged with?
- A: If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Nevada, you can be charged with a variety of offenses, including:
- First time DUI
- Second time DUI (within 7 years)
- Third time DUI (within 7 years)
- Drugged driving (DUID)
- DUI causing injury or death
- Vehicular homicideYou can also be charged with a first, second or third DUI and receive a sentence enhancement, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Read below to find out more about DUI offenses in Nevada and the penalties you can expect if you are convicted of driving under the influence.
- Q: What is a sentence enhancement?
- A: A DUI enhancement is an aggravating circumstance that results in heightened penalties. If your BAC level was significantly above 0.08, if you had children in your car (known as “child endangerment”), if you were driving with an open container of alcohol, were driving in a school or construction zone or if you caused serious injury or the death of an individual, you can expect heightened penalties.The court will also take into account your prior convictions and whether you were speeding or recklessly driving. If, for example, you were charged with “DUI causing death or serious injury,” you could face a prison sentence of two to 20 years, have to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000 and have your license revoked for three years. State DUI laws limit the discretion of prosecutors to plea bargain these charges down as well.
- Q: What penalties can I expect if I am convicted of DUI in Nevada?
- A: If you are charged with first time DUI, you can face anywhere from two days to six months in jail or 24 hours to 96 hours of community service. You will also have to complete Nevada DUI School at your own expense, attend a MADD lecture, have your license suspended for 90 days and have to pay a $35 civil penalty fee. You might have to pay a fine between $400 and $1,000 as well.For a second DUI within seven years, you will face 10 days to 6 months in jail or residential confinement. You may also have to complete 100 to 200 hours of community service. Fines range from $750 to $1,000. You will have to attend a Nevada Victim Impact Panel, take an alcohol/drug dependency evaluation which costs $100, and take an alcohol/drug abuse treatment program as prescribed by the court. Furthermore, your license will be suspended for one year, your registration will be suspended for five days and you will have to pay a $35 civil penalty fee.For a third DUI within seven years, you can expect a prison sentence of one to six years. Fines range from $2,000 to $5,000. You will have to attend a Victim Impact Panel, have a breath interlock device installed in your car for 12 months to 36 months after your release, have a three year driver’s license suspension, a five day registration suspension and have to pay a $35 civil penalty fee. You will also be subject to an alcohol/drug evaluation.
After a DUI conviction, one of the worst repercussions is that your record is permanently affected. Also, if you are convicted of a felony DUI, you will be charged with a felony in any subsequent DUI arrest. A DUI conviction can show up on your driver history for up to 10 years.
- Q: What will happen at court?
- A: On your ticket, the date, time and location of your first court appearance will be listed. You must attend court on that date and time. The judge will at some point ask you to enter a plea to your charges. You can either plead guilty or not guilty. Depending on your plea, the judge will determine whether you wish to waive your rights to a jury trial. It is always advised that you head into court with the legal representation of a DUI defense attorney on your side.
- Q: What is a drugged driving (DUID) charge?
- A: You can be arrested for drugged driving in Nevada if you operated a vehicle while under the influence of any “chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of these” if it rendered you incapable of safely driving or of controlling your vehicle. You can be charged with drugged driving if you were under the influence of illegal drugs or if you were under the influence of prescription drugs such as Ambien, Vicodin or Nyquil if you lost control of your car and drove unsafely.Even if you were driving safely, it’s still illegal per se if your blood or urine contained the minimum prohibited amount of an illegal drug. If you are pulled over for drugged driving, an officer will have you perform a field sobriety test and afterwards if he/she believes you are impaired, you will have to take a blood/urine test.Penalties for a first time drugged driving conviction range from two days to six months in jail or 96 hours of community service. If convicted of this charge, you will also have to take an alcohol awareness program, pay $400 to $1,000 in fines, attend a Nevada Victim Impact Panel and have your license suspended for 90 days. Penalties can be doubled if you were pulled over in a work zone.
For a second drugged driving conviction, you could face ten days to six months in jail or residential confinement. The fines you can expect range from $750 to $1,000 and you will be required to attend a Nevada Vicitm Panel and take an alcohol/drug deopendancy
- Q: Why do I need to contact the DMV immediately, after being arrested for DUI?
- A: A first time DUI carries a three month license suspension, a second DUI within 7 years carries a one year license suspension and a third DUI within 7 years caries a three year license suspension. DMV proceedings are separate from criminal court proceedings. If you are arrested for DUI you will face license suspension regardless of whether you are found not guilty in criminal court.It is important that you contact the DMV immediately after being arrested for DUI because you can request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings. This is your only chance to fight for your driving privileges. A DMV hearing is like a mini-trial where you (or your lawyer, preferably) get to defend yourself by bringing in evidence and witnesses.
- Q: Why schedule a DMV hearing?
- A: If your arresting officer doesn’t show up to your hearing, you will generally win by default. If he/she does show up, you are given an invaluable opportunity to cross-examine the officer on the record. At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., I will do everything within my power to get the officer to admit to mistakes in the investigation and to show any evidence that could help prove you were sober at the time.On Dmvnv.com it explains what you should expect going into an administrative hearing:
- Witnesses testify under oath
- Witnesses can be cross-examined
- The administrative law judge (ALJ) may consider physical evidence
- The ALJ must consider all appropriate statutes, regulations and case law
- Appropriate dress is expected
- Abusive or disruptive behavior or any sign of intoxication will cause the ALJ to terminate the hearing
- After your hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision, usually within 30 days.
- Q: What defenses could be used in my DUI case?
- A: There are many defenses available to you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, we can challenge your field sobriety test results or your breath/blood test results. If the officer made any mistakes while administering the tests or failed to honor your rights, Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., will fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced. If the firm is unable to get your charges dismissed, we can strive to have your charges reduced to “reckless driving.”Often, appearance, behavior or performance is not enough to prove intoxication. Many times, if an individual’s eyes are bloodshot, if his speech is slurred or if he failed a field sobriety test, there are other explanations available.Sometimes mouth alcohol can throw off a breathalyzer’s BAC reading. Also, it doesn’t matter what your BAC is while at a police station (while alcohol is absorbing, your BAC level rises), it matters what it was while you were driving. At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., I will not rest until every aspect of your case has been examined and every possible piece of evidence and defense has been used on your behalf. I will look for answers to the following:
- Did the police have probable cause for stopping your vehicle?
- If you were arrested at a roadblock, were police following the right protocol?
- Did the officer have probably cause to think you were driving under the influence before asking you to perform a breathalyzer or other chemical test?
- Were you actually driving a vehicle at the time of the alleged DUI offense?
- Did the officer read you your Miranda warnings? If not, some evidence may be excluded from trial.
- Were you driving erratically for another reason (were you tired, distracted, confused, etc.)?
- Did you not perform well on field sobriety tests because of a physical impairment? Was the officer’s instructions confusing?
- Do not wait to secure the competent legal representation you deserve on your side. Contact a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney today, so we can begin crafting the best defense available for you!
- Q: If I was pulled over at a roadblock, what are my rights?
- A: Nevada authorizes sobriety checkpoints per NEV. REV. STAT. 484.359 and 484.3591. Las Vegas police often set up sobriety checkpoints, especially over holiday weekends and during special events. While police at sobriety checkpoints can stop and arrest motorists who are driving under the influence (even if these motorists were driving safely and wouldn’t otherwise have been pulled over), the officers must adhere to the correct procedures. In Nevada, sobriety checkpoints must:
- Be established on a highway clearly visible to approaching traffic
- Have a sign placed near the centerline of the highway with the word “Stop”
- Have a red light at the side of the highway
- Have warning signs placed at the side of the highway, no less than a quarter mile from the roadblockOnce you arrive at a checkpoint, you must answer a cop’s questions and comply with their requests before driving away, or you can face hefty penalties. While the police are currently allowed to briefly stop motorists as part of the checkpoint process, they cannot search your vehicle without probable cause or your consent. Probable cause in this situation could include the visible presence of alcohol or drugs, the odor of alcohol or drugs, involuntary eye movements, blood-shot eyes, slurred speaking, clumsy movements, verbal admission of drug/alcohol use or inconsistency in answers.You have the right to remain silent after handing over your license and registration. You are not required to submit to a field sobriety test, however, due to Nevada’s implied consent law, you can be required to submit to a blood or breath test.
- Q: What should I look for in a DUI attorney?
- A: A DUI arrest is a very serious matter so it is imperative that you seek out and secure aggressive legal representation immediately. Before hiring an attorney to represent you, however, it is important that you ask him/her what their qualifications are, where they went to school, how many DUI cases they have handled, and so forth.Find out what legal organizations the lawyer belongs to and if he ever published a legal article. Inquire about the attorney’s experience and whether he/she will directly be working on your case or if the firm will be using paralegals or hand your case over to a less experienced lawyer. Some good, basic questions to ask any lawyer you are looking into are the following:
- How much of your practice is devoted to DUI cases?
- How much of my case will you actually handle?
- How many DUI cases have you handled?
- Are you aware of Nevada’s breathalyzer requirements and loopholes?
- What are your attorney fees?If you fail to secure a competent DUI attorney, your case could be jeopardized. An experience DUI lawyer can help you minimize or avoid severe penalties and can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced. It is important to hire someone with the knowledge and experience you can trust, so you can learn all about the pertinent traffic laws, motor vehicle laws, ignition interlock devices, and so forth. A good DUI defense attorney will know how to challenge your breathalyzer/blood test results as well as your field sobriety test results.At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., I will do everything within my power to reduce or eliminate the jail time you face, help you get your driving privileges restored, reduce your DUI charge to a lesser offense or help you avoid trial with a plea bargain. I have 16 years of legal experience behind me and as a former deputy district attorney, I can put my knowledge of the other side to work for you! I have prosecuted over 40 felony jury trials, have taught law and have helped write appeals, petitions and the State’s answers in various cases. This is knowledge and experience you can trust to fight for the best results for you!
- Q: What should I do if I was visiting Las Vegas and charged with DUI?
- A: Las Vegas daily attracts visitors from across the country, thus it is not unusual for a visitor to be charged with out of state DUI. If you are a resident of another state facing DUI charges in Nevada, it is imperative that you secure legal representation immediately. Gregory D. Knapp, Esq. can help you uphold your innocence and fight for the best results.If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, I can appear in court on your behalf. I can also conduct the Nevada DMV hearing, collect all the necessary evidence, develop defenses, run motions before the judge and negotiate with the prosecutor. I will do everything within my power to keep a DUI charge off your record and to protect your license from being suspended, which could affect y our driving privileges in your home state.If you do not hire a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, you will have to personally appear for all of your court hearings. An out of state license holder who receives a DUI conviction in Nevada will have his/her driving privileges suspended in Nevada. Furthermore, the Nevada DMV will report the suspension to the DMV of the offender’s home state.
At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., I can conduct phone consultations with you and make this otherwise stressful time as easy and tranquil as possible. I can also e-mail any pertinent police reports, lab reports and documentation to you. I am here to make this process as convenient as possible for you!
- Q: If I am a commercial driver charged with DUI, how could this affect my career?
- A: Truck and bus drivers can be charged with a DUI if they were operating a vehicle with a BAC level of 0.04 or higher. If you are a commercial driver, being convicted of a DUI could result in a lifelong suspension of your commercial driver’s license (CDL).By handing your case over to my expertise, I can examine all the circumstances surrounding your charge and craft the most compelling defense possible. Did the police make a mistake? Were you detained at an improper traffic stop? Were you not driving a commercial vehicle? If you were involved in an accident, was the other party at fault? I will not rest until I have turned over every stone!A first time DUI conviction will result in a driver’s CDL being suspended for one year. If you were transporting hazardous materials at the time, your suspensions will be increased to three years. A second DUI conviction results in a permanent, lifelong CDL revocation.
Also, if a CDL holder gets arrested for DUI in a personal vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, both his driver’s license and CDL will get suspended. Also, if a CDL holder gets a DUI for diving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of at least .04 but less than 0.08, both his CDL and driver’s license get suspended.
A first commercial DUI can result in a sentence of two days to six months in jail or 48 hours to 96 hours of community service. You will also be subject to a fine between $400 and $1,000, have to attend a victim impact panel, attend Nevada DUI school and a possible substance abuse treatment program. Your non-commercial driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days.
A second commercial DUI can result in 10 days to six months in jail, $750 to $1,000 in fines, and DUI school. You will also have to attend a victim impact panel, possibly attend a substance abuse treatment program and your non-commercial driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
A third commercial DUI within a seven year period is charged as a category B felony. You will face one to six years in state prison, be forced to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 in fines and have your non-commercial driver’s license suspended for three years.
Penalties can be doubled if you were pulled over in a work zone or if you were involved in an accident that caused injury or death. DUI charges are especially serious for commercial drivers and should not be taken lightly; contact Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., today for the aggressive legal services you deserve on your side!
- Q: Can I be arrested for DUI if the car was not moving?
- A: Yes. If you were in your car and your BAC level was 0.08 or higher, you can be arrested for DUI. Officers do not know whether or not you were operating your vehicle, but if you are found drunk inside of your car, it will be assumed that you were driving under the influence. There are stories online about individuals who drank a few beers at a party and got into their car afterward, just to listen to some music while the alcohol wore off. When cops stopped by the party, these individuals were arrested and charged with DUI. The good news is if you were arrested for DUI, while your car was not moving, there are more defenses available to you.The issue is whether or not you were in actual physical control of the vehicle and if you were attempting to operate the vehicle. At Gregory D. Knapp, Esq., we will thoroughly examine the facts surrounding your case and do everything within our power to prove that you were not operating the vehicle and thus cannot be convicted of driving under the influence. Merely being found behind the wheel of a vehicle is not concrete proof you were driving under the influence and we will do everything we can to uphold your innocence!
- Q: How would a DUI conviction affect my insurance?
- A: In Nevada, you are required to file an “SR 22” with the state DMV before your license can be reinstated. Your insurance company could consider you a high risk driver and raise your rates as a result.In order for the Nevada DMV to reinstate your license once your license suspension period has ended, you will be required to file an SR 22 for at least three years. It is advised that you speak with an insurance agent at the Nevada Insurance Department for advice about high risk motor insurance rates.