In the state of Nevada, a driver convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) will see the incident reflected on their criminal record. A DUI conviction can make life difficult in terms of getting a job, a home, a business license or college admission, but after a certain amount of time, drivers can have their records sealed, provided they meet a few caveats. However, there are some instances in which the the court will not seal a driving record.
Defining a Nevada DUI
According to NOLO, Nevada's DUI laws prohibit anyone from operating a vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or more, or while otherwise impaired to the degree that they cannot safely drive. The limit is lower for those who hold commercial licenses, at 0.04 percent, and for drivers under 21, who can face drunk driving charges for operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.
A DUI charge is usually a misdemeanor, particularly if it is a first offense, but depending on the incident's circumstances, it can also be a felony. The greater the number of prior convictions a driver has, the stiffer the penalties. In Nevada, the period for determining whether a DUI is a second, third or fourth offense is seven years – anything within that window of time counts as a prior DUI conviction.
Penalties for DUI Offenses
A driver's DUI penalties vary based on the charge. A first DUI offender must serve between two days and six months in jail and pay a fine of $400 to $1,000. The first-time offender may perform up to 96 hours of community service instead of jail time. A judge may also order the driver to take substance abuse courses and require them to drive with an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for 185 days.
If a driver has a BAC level of 0.18 percent or higher, the driver must have an IID installed for 12 to 36 months. If a driver causes death or substantial injury so that the charge becomes a felony, they face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
For a subsequent DUI, a driver serves between 10 days and six months in jail (or under house arrest) and pays a fine of $750 to $1,000. The driver may perform up to 96 hours of community service, attend substance abuse courses, and drive with an IID for 185 days. If the offender has a BAC level of 0.18 percent or higher, they must drive with an IID installed for up to 36 months and attend a substance abuse treatment program.
Penalties for Refusing Testing
Drivers who refuse to take a BAC test also face hefty penalties on top of those stemming from the arrest. If the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revokes or suspends a driver's license for this refusal, that person will have to wait at least a year to request reinstatement, and the DMV will also require proof of a clean substance abuse evaluation.
DUI Conviction and a Expunging a Driver's Criminal Record
Nevada does not expunge convictions, which means they are on the driver's criminal record indefinitely. Many people are under the false belief that they will have a clean criminal record if they receive a not guilty verdict or never face charges. This is not the case; the DUI arrest itself appears on that record, regardless. The court sends that information to DMVs across the country, who keep it on file for 10 years if there is a conviction.
The Nevada DMV makes a driver's records viewable by law enforcement, government agencies, insurers, employers, banks, school admission offices and landlords, among others, for up to three years. However, they can also remain viewable for as long as a license suspension or revocation lasts, which can be indefinite in some cases.
Sealing a Driver's Criminal Record
After some time has passed, Nevada Revised Statute Section 179.245 allows drivers to have their criminal record sealed under certain conditions. This means if an entity performs a background check on a driver with a DUI, they cannot have access to any information about the arrest or possible conviction once the court seals the records. The only entities that do have continued access to sealed records are law enforcement and other government agencies.
When pursuing record sealing, the driver must petition the court to do so and must meet specific eligibility requirements, depending on the circumstances of their case. They are:
- A first or second misdemeanor DUI offender can have their record sealed after seven years, provided they have completed their sentence.
- Those facing a reckless driving charge from a DUI can have their record sealed one year after a closed case.
- Those with dismissed DUI charges are eligible to have their arrest record sealed immediately.
Note that those with felony DUIs are never eligible to have their records sealed.
Petitioning for Sealed Records
When a driver wishes to seal their DUI records, there's a lot of footwork to be done. That person must obtain copies of the necessary documents with the appropriate signatures permitting the request. These include:
- The driver's criminal background information from the Nevada Criminal History Central Repository.
- A verified Shared Computer Operations for Protection and Enforcement system (SCOPE) copy of the driver's criminal history.
- Additional records in any other physical form.
- The driver's signed petition ordering the sealing.
- A judge's signed petition ordering the sealing.
- The driver's signed affidavit confirming the authenticity of the documents.
The Clark County District Attorney's Office (DA) further explains the required steps and documents needed for petitioning the court to seal a driver's criminal record. After making the necessary adjustments, the petition goes to the DA's office for approval. If approved, the driver must submit their documents to the court clerk in their county for a judge's signature.
Denial of a Driver's Petition for Sealing
The court may not allow some drivers to have their records sealed due to certain factors:
- The driver has not satisfied the required length of time since the court closed the case.
- The driver has pending or still active case(s).
- The driver has not met the statute of limitations.
- The court has dismissed the driver's case without prejudice.
- The driver has a felony DUI.
- The driver took part in a crime relating to sexual assault of children.
- The driver's criminal record shows that the person has reoffended or has committed crimes of a serious nature.
- Not all arrests or convictions in the driver's past have made it on to the record.
If the DA denies the petition, the office returns their paperwork with an explanation as to why. The driver must then wait two years to petition a judge to have their record sealed. To meet with a judge, the driver must first inquire with the DA's office.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.