Driving while under the influence (DUI) is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI in Nevada occurs when a person has physical control of a vehicle and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at or above 0.08 percent. This crime can be an additional charge that a person may face when accused of fleeing the scene of an accident, if it can be proven that they were intoxicated with alcohol or a controlled substance when they fled the scene.
A first offense of DUI involving alcohol or controlled substances in Nevada is charged as a misdemeanor criminal offense. There are three situations, however, in which it can be charged as a felony:
- If it is the person’s third offense,
- If a person has a prior felony DUI conviction, or
- If a person causes an accident in which another person is injured or killed.
But, in Nevada, there are four possible felony DUI scenarios:
- Third DUI: The perpetrator had two prior DUI convictions in the last seven years;
- Prior Felony DUI: The perpetrator had already been convicted of one felony DUI;
- DUI with Injury or Death: The incident of DUI caused substantial bodily harm or death to another person; or
- Vehicular Homicide: This crime occurs when a perpetrator who has at least three prior DUI convictions causes an accident in which another person is killed.
It does not matter whether the prior DUIs were in Nevada or another state in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory.
Of course, the punishment depends on the specific crime of which the perpetrator is convicted.
- Third-time DUI: This is a Category B felony and the punishment is from 1 to 6 years in Nevada State Prison and a fine of from $2,000 to $5,000. In addition, the perpetrator must attend a victim impact panel. The perpetrator will also have their driver’s license revoked for 3 years. Finally, the perpetrator’s car must be equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1 to 3 years. The perpetrator must also submit to an alcohol and drug addiction evaluation.
Eligible defendants may be able to avoid prison and a felony conviction by participating in DUI Court, which is a rehabilitation program.
- DUI after Another Felony DUI: This is a Category B felony in Nevada, punishable 2 to 15 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000. Attendance at a victim impact panel is also required. The perpetrator’s driver’s license will be revoked for 3 years, and the perpetrator’s car must be equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1 to 3 years
The perpetrator must also submit to an alcohol and drug addiction evaluation.
- DUI Causing Injury or Death: This is also a Category B felony in Nevada. It is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000. The driver must attend a victim impact panel. The perpetrator’s driver’s license can be revoked for 3 years, and their car must be equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1 to 3 years.
If the perpetrator was transporting a child under the age of 15, the judge considers this an aggravating factor and is more likely to impose a harsher sentence than it would if a child under 15 had not been present in the car.
- Vehicular Homicide: This is a Category A felony in Nevada and is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. A perpetrator must attend a victim impact panel, and their driver’s license is revoked for three years. The perpetrator’s car must be equipped with an ignition interlock device for 1 to 3 years. The perpetrator may be paroled after 10 years.
What Is Fleeing the Scene of an Accident in Nevada?
Fleeing the scene of an accident in Nevada is known as “hit-and-run.” The crime occurs when a person is involved in a car accident, and, instead of calling police or notifying the owner of another car that is damaged, they leave the scene. A person can be charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run, or, if they cause death or bodily injury to a victim, then the hit-and-run is charged as a felony.
All drivers who are involved in an accident are required by law in Nevada to stop at the scene and give their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the driver or occupant of any other vehicle involved in the crash. If the police respond to the scene of the crash, then all drivers also must give this information to the responding officer. In addition, a driver must provide the police with their driver’s license number.
If a driver is involved in a single-car accident that damages another person’s car, they are required to stop and locate the owner of the property. If they cannot find the owner, they must leave a note with their name, address, and contact information. If the car that the perpetrator was driving is owned by someone else, the perpetrator must leave the name of the car’s owner. Leaving this note in a place where it is likely to be seen or in a secure area, such as a mailbox near the scene of the accident, is generally considered sufficient under Nevada law.
Not providing the required information, or leaving the scene of the accident before the police arrive, turns the accident into a hit-and-run criminal offense.
The punishment for a Nevada hit-and-run depends on the kind of injury and damage caused by the crash. Generally, crashes that cause property damage only are charged as misdemeanors, while those that cause injury or death are felonies.
A hit-and-run crash that causes damage to a vehicle, the contents of a vehicle, a home or a business can be charged with a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a fine of as much as $1,000.
In 2015, Nevada increased the criminal penalties for hit-and-run that involves leaving the scene of an accident in which someone is injured or killed. Perpetrators now face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of a category B felony hit-and-run. Convicted drivers can also be required to pay $2,000 to $5,000 in fines. They are also likely to face civil liability and would have to pay damages to any victims.
Note that this is the same sentence as that for a person who injures or kills someone when driving while intoxicated, which is, by the way, also a category B felony. This sentence for category B felony hit-and-run was imposed in order to prevent drunk drivers from facing a lesser punishment if they fled the scene of an accident, so they could get sober and avoid a DUI charge.
What Is Felony DUI Hit-and-Run in Nevada?
In Nevada, felony DUI hit-and-run is the crime of being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. While driving under the influence, the person causes an accident. In that accident, a victim suffers serious bodily injury or death. The perpetrator then leaves the scene of the accident.
What Is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury is a physical injury that takes a long period of time to heal. Or, a person may not heal completely, because the injury causes disfigurement. This includes injuries such as a broken leg, a severed limb or organ damage.
Can I Face Any Additional Charges Related to a DUI Hit-and-Run in Nevada?
First of all, a person can be charged with the two separate crimes of DUI and hit-and-run. They might also also face criminal charges for:
What Kind of Punishment Will I Face for a Felony Hit-and-Run?
Injuring or killing a person while in the course of committing a hit-and-run, is a category B felony. Once convicted of this felony, a person can be sentenced to:
- Eight to 20 years in prison; and/or
- A $5,000 fine.
A person convicted of vehicular homicide can be sentenced to life in prison.
Can I Get Even More Time for My DUI Charge?
Nevada considers DUI and hit-and-run separate crimes. As noted above, DUI penalties range from hours in county jail to prison time, depending on the particular circumstances of the offense. Thus, a person will face additional time in jail or prison if they are convicted of a DUI in addition to being convicted of a felony hit-and-run.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Facing multiple criminal charges at one time is a very difficult situation. You definitely want to consult an experienced Nevada DUI/DWI lawyer immediately to learn more about fighting your felony DUI and hit-and-run charges.