When is a DUI a Felony in Nevada?
In most DUI cases in Nevada, drivers are charged with misdemeanors, a classification of criminal acts that falls between infractions and felonies. While misdemeanor convictions can certainly result in serious short- and long-term consequences – including license suspensions, hefty fines and fees, terms of imprisonment, and a criminal record – they are not as severe as penalties posed by felonies.
Although most driving under the influence cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors, there are certain aggravating circumstances that can result in felony charges. When they do, accused individuals face the most serious criminal allegation, and one that poses life-altering consequences.
Aside from fines and a minimum 1-year prison sentence, which can be increased substantially based on the nature of the crime and other factors, felony DUI charges also expose defendants to other post-conviction consequences including:
- Driver’s license revocation
- Loss of certain professional licenses
- Difficulty finding employment or housing
- Loss of civil rights (voting, serving on a jury, owning a firearm
Because the state of Nevada takes a tough stance on DUI, the law allows for felony charges in several circumstances. These include:
- Multiple DUIs – In Nevada, drivers can be prosecuted with felony DUI if they have 2 prior DUI convictions within the past 7 years. This means if you are arrested for a 3rd DUI and have 2 convictions in the last 7 years, you can be charged with a felony. Penalties for a third DUI can include a 3-year license suspension, fines up to $5,000, and 1 to 6 years in prison.
- Prior Felony DUI – Any driver who has been convicted of a felony DUI at any time in the past can face felony charges for any new DUI charge, even if the situation itself is not a felony-level offense. This is category B felony punishable by 2 to 15 years in prison.
- Causing Injury or Death – Causing injury or death while driving under the influence is a serious felony that carries a 2 to 20 year term of imprisonment. In certain circumstances, including cases where a defendant has 3 or more prior DUI convictions and causes death, prosecutors can charge drivers with vehicular homicide. As the most serious felony DUI offense, vehicular homicide is punishable by a 25 to life sentence.
It is important to note that there are other aggravating factors which can increase penalties in felony DUI cases, as well as misdemeanor DUI cases for that matter. These include high BAC levels, having a child passenger, driving with an open container, and the presence of other crimes, such as drug possession.
If you or a loved one stand accused, it is vital that you understand felony charges demand swift and seasoned defense. At Joey Gilbert Law, our legal team is standing by 24/7 to speak with clients as soon as possible after an arrest. With ample time, a Reno DUI lawyer from our firm can work to investigate all circumstances of an arrest and charge to pursue the most positive outcome possible, including dismissed or reduced charges and minimized penalties.
Joey Gilbert Law has extensive experience defending clients charged with all types of DUI offenses, including serious felonies. Put a proven criminal defense team in your corner by calling (775) 574-4774 for a FREE consultation.