Understanding Las Vegas Drugged Driving Offenses

The Nevada DUI (Driving Under the Influence) law includes provisions prohibiting operation of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, sometimes called DUID. Drugged driving offenses include use of legally obtained marijuana and prescription drugs, as well as illegal controlled substances. Las Vegas residents and visitors need to understand these charges, which can result in harsh penalties, fines, and jail time.

Our Las Vegas criminal defense practice at The Gersten Law Firm includes aggressively defending against DUI and DUID charges. Attorney Joe Gersten draws on his extensive investigative and trial experience in representing individuals facing federal and state criminal charges, including drugged driving. Your first consultation is always free.

Las Vegas Drugged Driving Laws

The Nevada DUI law (NRS 484C.110) includes several different sections relating to driving under the influence of drugs. Under the statute, it is unlawful in the state to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises with public access, if a person:

  • Is under the influence of a controlled substance,
  • Is under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance, or
  • Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle

The law specifically states that legal use of a drug is not a defense to a violation of the preceding provisions.

Another section makes it illegal for a person to drive or be in control of a vehicle with specified amounts of identified controlled substances in his or her blood or urine. Those substances include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine metabolite
  • Heroine
  • Heroine metabolite / morphine
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide / LSD
  • Methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine

For marijuana, it is illegal to drive or control a vehicle with a blood concentration of two (2) nanograms per milliliter of marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or five (5) nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite (11-OH-tetrahydrocannabinol).

Nevada Penalties for Drugged Driving

The first offense of drugged driving usually is a misdemeanor, unless the violation caused another person’s injury or death. Penalties for a misdemeanor may include:

  • Two (2) days to six (6) months in jail or twenty-four (24) to ninety-six (96) hours of community service;
  • Attendance at Nevada DUI school (at the defendant’s own expense)
  • A fine of $400 to $1000 plus court costs
  • Nevada Victim Impact Panel
  • Driver’s license suspension of 185 days
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

Penalties increase up to two times if the violation took place in a work zone.

Each subsequent violation carries higher fines and harsher penalties. A third offense within seven (7) years or a violation causing substantial harm or death is a felony.

Defending Against a Drugged Driving Charge

If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI or DUID, the officer performs field tests. If the officer suspects drug rather than alcohol use, a blood test likely will be administered. In Nevada, drivers give implied consent to breath and blood testing. You can read more about driver implied consent to drug and alcohol testing in our blog post on that topic.

There are defenses that may be asserted to a DUID. If you face a DUID charge, your best strategy to defend against the charge is to retain an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, even for a first offense.

Your attorney investigates and analyzes the circumstances of your arrest, then develops the best strategy for defending you against the charges. Potential defenses include identifying improper law enforcement conduct or procedures relating to the stop, testing process, or arrest.

Challenging the tests and test results is another possible defense strategy in a drugged driving case. This defense requires knowledge of proper testing procedures, interpretation of tests, and device design and operation.

A skillful DUID defense attorney knows how to negotiate aggressively with the district attorney’s office. In some cases, your attorney can negotiate a plea to a lesser charge that does not carry the harsh penalties and consequences of a drugged driving conviction. If your lawyer identifies improper police conduct or faulty testing, the district attorney’s office may even dismiss the charges.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Las Vegas Drugged Driving Defense Attorney

If you are facing a drugged driving charge in Las Vegas, Henderson, or elsewhere in Clark County, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten will discuss and evaluate your case based on his extensive investigative, analytical, and trial experience. Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.