Call or text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – (702) 940-1234
You are currently viewing Felony DUI in Nevada

Felony DUI in Nevada

Felony DUI in Nevada

This article is not intended as advice for your specific matter.  Rather, it is a general article about Nevada law.  If you have questions about your particular case, please call Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas immediately at (702) 940-1234.  This information is valid as of February 2, 2018.

Driving under the influence, DUI, is a serious accusation that requires a lawyer to defend against. There are a number of ways to be found guilty of felony DUI across the country. They include causing death or serious bodily harm or committing a hit-and-run.


Under Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.400, the penalty for a first, second or third DUI conviction within seven years are different. For a first or second offense, a DUI is punished as a misdemeanor. A third offense within seven years is punished as a felony. But a third offense in seven years is not the only way to be accused of felony DUI where no one was harmed and you stayed on the scene of an accident. Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.410 provides the “once a felon, always a felon” rule which means that if you’ve been convicted of a felony DUI, then all subsequent DUI charges are felonies, no matter how much time has passed. In Nevada, the field of criminal law takes a strong stance against repeat offenders, ensuring that individuals convicted of felony DUI face severe consequences. 

But what about out-of-state convictions? For instance, if you were convicted of felony DUI in Utah, does that serve as a basis for making any subsequent DUI a felony in Nevada?

The Supreme Court of Nevada addressed this question in Sindelar v. State, 382 P.3d 904 (2016). The appellant, Stella Sindelar, pleaded guilty to felony DUI in Utah in 2004. Almost nine years later, Singelar was arrested in Ely, Nevada for suspicion of DUI. At trial, she was convicted of felony DUI and have prison sentences of 30 to 75 months. Nevada’s strict stance on felony DUI cases begs the question of whether or not sobriety checkpoints should be implemented to curb the growing number of repeat offenders and ensure public safety. 

Although Sindelar tried to argue that she should have only been charged with a misdemeanor because the 2004 Utah conviction would have been a misdemeanor had it occurred in Nevada, the Supreme Court of Nevada disagreed. The reasoning behind Sindelar’s position was that Utah had a longer-term of recidivism, repeated offending, at ten years versus Nevada’s seven years. However, under the statute, the Court found that both statutes criminalized the same conduct essentially and this the conviction in Utah could serve as a valid prior felony for enhancement purposes.

Understanding Felony DUI

In Nevada, the severity of a DUI felony charge can escalate to a felony under specific circumstances:

  1. Multiple Offenses – A DUI offense can be elevated to a felony if it’s the third within a seven-year period or the fourth within fifteen years. These timeframes are calculated from the dates of previous arrests to the current one, indicating a pattern of repeated offenses that warrants harsher penalties.
  2. Injury or Death – When a DUI results in significant bodily harm to another person, it can be deemed a felony. In the gravest cases where the DUI leads to the death of another individual, the felony charges can escalate to vehicular manslaughter or even murder, depending on the specifics of the situation. This underscores the severe consequences of driving under the influence, mainly when it results in harm to others.
  3. Prior Felony DUI – If a driver has a prior felony DUI conviction, any subsequent DUI offenses will automatically be charged as felonies. This highlights the legal system’s strict approach to repeat offenders, aiming to deter individuals from engaging in dangerous behavior behind the wheel after facing serious consequences for similar actions.

Las Vegas Felony DUI Lawyer

Penalties for Felony DUI in Nevada

The consequences of a felony DUI conviction in Nevada are significant, carrying penalties that can profoundly impact the defendant’s life:

1. Prison Time

When someone is convicted of a felony DUI in Nevada, they could be sentenced to spend anywhere from 1 to 6 years behind bars. The length of this sentence is determined by several factors, such as the specific details of the DUI incident and whether the person has any previous criminal convictions. Being incarcerated can have far-reaching consequences, disrupting not only the individual’s personal life but also their professional endeavors. 

It can lead to challenges in maintaining employment, strain relationships with family members, and cause emotional distress for the person serving time and their loved ones. Additionally, the stigma associated with a prison sentence can affect the individual’s reputation and future opportunities.

2. Fines

Felony DUI convictions come with big fines, sometimes thousands of dollars. These fines can put a lot of pressure on the defendant’s finances, making it harder for them to get back on track after the conviction. If the fines aren’t paid on time or at all, it can cause more legal issues, like more fines or even jail time. This makes an already tough situation even harder, adding more challenges as the person tries to move past the consequences of their actions.

3. License Suspension/Revocation

After a felony DUI conviction, the defendant typically faces a significant consequence: the driver’s license revocation or suspension for an extended period. This restriction poses substantial challenges, severely limiting their ability to travel independently, fulfill work duties, and handle personal matters. The impact is immediate and long-lasting, affecting the individual’s daily life and overall mobility. 

Reinstating a revoked license adds to the burden, involving a complicated bureaucratic process that further prolongs the period of inconvenience and hardship. Navigating this complex procedure becomes time-consuming and frustrating, exacerbating the difficulties in rebuilding life after conviction.

4. Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

In numerous instances, courts may require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the defendant’s vehicle as part of their probation terms or for license reinstatement. This device monitors the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and acts as a preventive measure by immobilizing the motor vehicle if alcohol is detected. Although aimed at fostering responsible driving habits, the implementation and upkeep of an IID come with added expenses and logistical hurdles for the defendant. 

These costs and challenges can further burden individuals already grappling with the consequences of a DUI conviction, underscoring the complexities and financial strains associated with navigating post-conviction requirements.

5. Probation 

Instead of or alongside serving time in prison, the court might opt for a probationary period for the defendant. Throughout probation, the individual is required to adhere to specific conditions established by the felony DUI court. These conditions often include attending counseling sessions, engaging in community service, and abstaining from alcohol and drug consumption. Probation serves as a monitored period where the defendant is expected to demonstrate responsible behavior and rehabilitation efforts. 

Failure to comply with the set terms of probation can lead to more severe consequences, potentially including imprisonment. This underscores the importance of strict adherence to the court’s conditions during the probationary period, as any violation could result in a more challenging legal situation for the defendant.

These penalties underscore the seriousness of felony DUI offenses and the importance of seeking legal counsel to navigate the legal process effectively. Facing such severe consequences necessitates proactive legal representation to mitigate the impact of a conviction and explore potential avenues for defense or mitigation.

Felony DUI in Nevada

Defenses Against Felony DUI Charges

While facing felony DUI charges can be daunting, there are several defenses that a skilled DUI attorney may employ to challenge the prosecution’s case. These defenses may include:

  1. Illegal Stop or Arrest – If law enforcement officers violated the defendant’s rights during the stop or arrest, evidence obtained may not be admissible in court. For instance, if the officer lacked a valid reason to pull over the defendant’s vehicle, the stop could be deemed illegal, and any evidence gathered afterward could be suppressed. 
  2. Faulty Breathalyzer Test – Breathalyzer tests, while commonly used, are not foolproof and can sometimes yield inaccurate results. Attorneys may challenge the reliability of breathalyzer test results by questioning the calibration of the device, the competence of the operator, or other factors that could have influenced the accuracy of the test.
  3. Rising Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) – Alcohol takes time to be absorbed into the bloodstream, so a person’s BAC may continue to rise even after they’ve stopped drinking. This means that their BAC during testing might be higher than when they were driving. This defense can be particularly effective if the defendant’s BAC was above the legal limit at the testing time but below it when they were driving.
  4. Lack of Probable Cause – Prosecutors must demonstrate that there was probable cause for the defendant’s DUI arrest. If the arresting police officer lacked sufficient evidence or justification for the arrest, the charges could be dismissed. For instance, if there was no observed erratic driving behavior or other indicators of impairment, the arrest might be deemed unjustified.

These defenses highlight the importance of thorough examination and scrutiny of the facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI arrest. A skilled attorney can leverage these defenses to challenge the prosecution’s case and potentially secure a favorable outcome for the defendant.


Felony DUI charges in Nevada carry severe penalties that can have a lasting impact on every aspect of the defendant’s life. If you are facing felony DUI charges, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and options. Additionally, it’s essential to remember that every case is unique, and potential defenses will vary depending on the specific circumstances. By working with a skilled attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome in your case.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Felony DUI in Nevada:

Q. How long does a felony DUI stay on your record in Nevada?

In Nevada, a felony DUI typically remains on your record permanently. Unlike misdemeanor offenses, which may be eligible for expungement after a certain period, felony convictions, including felony DUIs, generally stay on your record indefinitely. This means that the conviction can have long-term consequences, impacting various aspects of your life, including employment opportunities, housing, professional licenses, and even personal relationships. It underscores the importance of seeking legal counsel and exploring all available options to mitigate the impact of a felony DUI conviction.

Q. Can a felony DUI be expunged in Nevada?

In Nevada, felony DUI convictions cannot be expunged from a person’s criminal record. Unlike some misdemeanor offenses, which may be eligible for expungement after a certain period, felony DUI convictions carry more severe consequences and typically remain on the individual’s record permanently. However, individuals with felony DUI convictions may explore other options, such as seeking a pardon from the Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners. While a pardon does not erase the conviction, it can restore certain rights and provide relief from some of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. It’s essential for individuals with felony DUI convictions in Nevada to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand their options for post-conviction relief and potential pathways to mitigate the impact of their conviction.

Q. Are there mandatory jail sentences for felony DUI convictions in Nevada?

Yes, there are mandatory jail sentences for felony DUI convictions in Nevada. Depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal record, a felony DUI conviction can result in a significant prison sentence ranging from 1 to 6 years. These mandatory jail sentences underscore the serious consequences of felony DUI offenses and serve as a deterrent against impaired driving.

Q. Does Nevada have a three-strike rule for DUI offenses?

Yes, Nevada has a three-strike rule for DUI offenses. If someone commits a third DUI offense within seven years or a fourth offense within fifteen years, it is considered a felony. This means harsher penalties, including potential prison time, fines, and license suspension or revocation. The consecutive nature of these offenses underscores the serious consequences of repeated DUI violations in Nevada.

Q. Can a felony DUI be reduced?

Yes, in some cases, a felony DUI charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor. This typically occurs through plea bargaining, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the circumstances of the offense, and the strength of the prosecution’s case can influence the likelihood of a reduction. Successful completion of rehabilitation programs, community service, or other court-ordered requirements may also be considered in negotiations for a reduced charge. However, the possibility of reducing a felony DUI charge ultimately depends on the discretion of the prosecutor and the judge overseeing the case.

Q. How does a felony DUI affect my driver’s license in Nevada?

A felony DUI conviction in Nevada typically results in the suspension or revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license for an extended period. Additionally, the court may require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the defendant’s vehicle as a condition of license reinstatement. This device prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. These consequences underscore the seriousness of felony DUI offenses and the importance of seeking legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the legal process effectively.

Q. How can I reinstate my driver’s license after a Felony DUI conviction in Nevada?

To reinstate your driver’s license after a Felony DUI conviction in Nevada, you typically need to complete several steps:

  • Serve any required prison time and comply with all court-ordered penalties, such as fines and probation.
  • Attend any mandatory alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs and provide proof of completion.
  • You may need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and maintain it for the required period.
  • Submit a reinstatement application to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and pay any associated fees.

Meeting all these requirements demonstrates your commitment to safe driving practices and may result in the reinstatement of your driver’s license.

Q. How can I have my Felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor in Nevada?

Reducing a Felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor in Nevada typically involves legal strategies and negotiations. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can assess the specifics of your case. Attorneys may explore various avenues, such as challenging evidence, questioning the legality of the arrest, or negotiating with prosecutors. Factors like your criminal history, the circumstances of the offense, and your willingness to participate in rehabilitation programs can influence the outcome. An attorney can advocate for a reduction by presenting compelling arguments and working towards an agreement with the prosecution. It’s essential to seek professional legal guidance tailored to your case to achieve a favorable resolution.

Q. How likely is it to get probation instead of jail time for a Felony DUI conviction in Nevada?

The likelihood of receiving probation instead of jail time for a Felony DUI conviction in Nevada varies depending on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and the judge’s discretion. In some cases, particularly for first-time offenders or those with mitigating circumstances, the court may opt for probation as an alternative to incarceration. However, for more serious offenses or repeat offenders, especially those involving injury or death, the court may impose a prison sentence. Ultimately, the decision rests with the judge, who considers various factors before determining the appropriate sentence.

Q. What is considered a felony DUI in Nevada?

A DUI is considered a felony in Nevada under specific circumstances, including multiple offenses within a certain timeframe, causing significant bodily harm or death while driving under the influence, or having a prior felony DUI conviction. These situations elevate the severity of the offense, leading to felony charges with harsher penalties such as lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, license revocation, and the installation of ignition interlock devices.

Consult with our Professional DUI Attorneys today!

At Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas, our skilled Las Vegas DUI attorneys are here to guide you through each stage of your case for felony DUI charge. We know how complex and challenging it can be to navigate the legal system in these situations. Our team is dedicated to providing the personalized assistance you need to achieve the best outcome. Whether you’re dealing with charges related to alcohol or drugs, facing arrest, jail, probation, fines, license suspension, ignition interlock device, or sobriety tests, we’re committed to advocating for your rights. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get the help you need for your DUI case!

Have you or a loved one been accused of a crime and cannot afford to hire experts and investigators? Contact the experienced Nevada criminal defense attorneys at Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas for a free consultation.

For more information on how can help you with Felony DUI in Nevada, please contact us at (702) 940-1234, or visit us here:

Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas

600 S 8th St Suite 140, Las Vegas, NV 89101

(702) 940-1234

Las Vegas Felony DUI Lawyer