How to Navigate the DUI Process
Getting a DUI or DWI in the state of Nevada can be frightening and difficult to navigate –in many ways, it is purposely intended to be as difficult as possible for the defendant. DUI charges are some of the most aggressively pursued by prosecutors, as these cases carry a heavy stigma against the perceived offender, and officers can arrest you simply for appearing intoxicated during a field sobriety test. Although Nevada is a “priorable offense” state, which means penalties increase exponentially with each new charge, judges can still be extremely harsh in imposing sentences even for first-time DUI offenders.
At Joey Gilbert Law, our Reno drunk driving defense attorneys fight for our clients’ rights and can provide an unparalleled legal strategy for your DUI case. A conviction can negatively impact every aspect of your life, so if you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s imperative that you work with skilled legal counsel. That being said, there are some major milestones in the DUI process you should know about. In this post, we’ll touch on the major steps of the DUI process and what you can expect during each.
Initial Stages: DUI Investigation and Arrest
You may be most familiar with this portion of the DUI process, as it is the most commonly depicted in pop culture. Once a police officer stops you, they can investigate whether you were driving drunk, by asking you to perform a field sobriety test and/or a breathalyzer test. If you’re found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above the legal limit of .08%, or if you appear intoxicated during a field test (such as walking in a straight line), the officer can arrest you.
Once you’ve been arrested, your license will be confiscated and sent to the DMV for revocation. You will also be asked to take a blood or breath test to formally document your BAC level. If you refuse to take either test, your license will automatically be revoked for a year. However, you are not legally required to take a blood test.
After this phase, you will need to make a quick decision on what to do next, as you only have 7 days from your arrest date to formally request an administrative hearing with the DMV and restore your license. This is held separately from your criminal case, and while these are generally much harder to win, it may be worth the effort to attempt a DMV hearing as well. In some cases, the outcome can impact the criminal proceedings.
Booking for a DUI: What to Expect
The booking phase is where the police will take your fingerprints, your photo, and all relevant information about your arrest. If this is your first offense, then you may be able to leave after the booking is completed; however, if you were arrested on felony charges or after multiple subsequent DUI charges you will most likely need to post bail.
Based on the information provided by the police, the prosecutor will decide whether to file charges or not. If you’re charged with a Nevada DUI, you will need to appear in court.
Overview of the DUI Trial Process
You will first appear in court to be arraigned, and this is where you will enter a plea. Legal counsel can represent you in these proceedings if you are not representing yourself. Once you’ve submitted a plea, the negotiation begins, and your attorney will work in tandem with the prosecutor to see if they can reach a compromise about your criminal charges. This is where legal counsel can be particularly useful, especially if the evidence gathered by police is weak or circumstantial.
If no resolution can be reached, your DUI case will move to trial. A first-time offender facing a misdemeanor only has the option for a bench trial in front of a judge, but if you’ve been charged with a DUI felony offense, you can be tried by jury instead.
DUI Conviction and Sentencing
Even with the best legal strategy, you may still be convicted of a DUI by the judge. As with the other steps of this process, the sentencing you receive will depend on how many related prior arrests you have, and the unique circumstances leading to your drunk driving arrest. In the state of Nevada, even a first-time DUI can land you in jail for up to 6 months and net you up to $1000 in fines.
The intensity of Nevada DUI sentencing is just one of the reasons you should consider experienced legal representation, as the right counsel can lessen the impact of your sentence from the moment you are arrested. Our team at Joey Gilbert Law is dedicated to providing you with the quality representation you deserve, and can work with you every step of the way during the DUI process.