Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Nevada for adults 21 years of age or older. However, it’s important to understand the laws and consequences regarding driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana. In this blog, ATAC LAW will address common questions related to DUI of marijuana, including the potential penalties, testing options, defense strategies, license suspension, record sealing, and the impact on immigration status.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Nevada

Can I be charged with a DUI in Nevada for driving while high?

The state of Nevada considers it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any controlled substance, which includes marijuana.

It’s important to note that being charged with a DUI in Nevada for driving while high is not dependent on the method of consumption. Whether you smoked marijuana or consumed it through edibles or other forms, if you are impaired by marijuana while driving, you can face DUI charges.

Law enforcement officers in Nevada can conduct field sobriety tests to assess impairment. They may also request a blood or urine sample to determine the presence of marijuana in your system. If the tests confirm the presence of marijuana or show that you are impaired, you can be charged with a DUI.

It’s worth highlighting that Nevada has a per se limit for THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) in the blood of 2 nanograms per milliliter. If your blood test exceeds this limit, it can be used as evidence of impairment.

How do arrests for marijuana DUI happen in Nevada?

In Nevada, arrests for marijuana DUI can occur through several avenues, typically initiated by law enforcement officers who are trained to identify signs of drug impairment in drivers.

Here are some common scenarios that can lead to a marijuana DUI arrest:

  1. Observed Impaired Driving Behavior: Police officers may pull over a driver if they observe behaviors that suggest impairment, such as swerving between lanes, driving at inconsistent speeds, or disregarding traffic signals. These observable signs can prompt suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.
  2. Erratic Driving Patterns: Erratic driving patterns, such as sudden braking, weaving in and out of lanes, or driving too slowly, can also raise red flags for law enforcement officers. These behaviors may lead to a traffic stop and further investigation for potential drug impairment.
  3. Traffic Violations: If a driver commits a traffic violation, such as running a red light, failing to yield, or making an illegal U-turn, this can serve as a basis for a traffic stop. During the stop, officers may assess the driver for signs of impairment, including impairment due to marijuana use.
  4. Involvement in a Motor Vehicle Accident: Being involved in a car crash can attract police attention, especially if there are suspicions of impairment contributing to the accident. In such cases, officers may conduct tests to determine if the driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the collision.

Once a traffic stop is initiated, law enforcement officers may proceed to conduct field sobriety tests to evaluate the driver’s coordination, balance, and cognitive abilities. If the driver exhibits signs of impairment during these tests or if the officer has reasonable suspicion, they may request a blood or urine sample for further testing.

It’s important to note that in Nevada, being arrested for marijuana DUI does not necessarily require a breathalyzer test, as is the case with alcohol-related DUIs.

Instead, the focus is on assessing impairment, which can be determined through various means, including physical and chemical tests.

Do I have a choice between a breath test or blood test after a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada?

Individuals do not typically have a choice between a breath test or a blood test. While breathalyzer tests are commonly used for alcohol-related DUI cases, determining marijuana impairment requires the analysis of blood or urine samples.

Following a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada, law enforcement officers have the authority to request a blood or urine test from the individual. The purpose of these tests is to detect the presence of drugs in the system, as well as to measure the concentration of THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) in the blood.

Blood tests are generally preferred over urine tests in marijuana DUI cases due to their ability to provide more accurate and immediate results. These tests determine the active level of THC in the bloodstream, indicating recent marijuana use and potential impairment at the time of driving.

It’s important to note that under Nevada’s “implied consent” law, individuals who operate a motor vehicle on the state’s roads are presumed to have given their consent to submit to a blood or urine test if they are lawfully arrested for a DUI. Refusal to comply with the testing can result in additional penalties, such as driver’s license suspension.

Will my driver’s license be suspended after a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada?

In Nevada, if you are arrested for a marijuana DUI, your driver’s license is subject to suspension. The length of the suspension period can vary based on several factors, including whether it is your first offense, second offense, or subsequent offense. Here is a general overview of the driver’s license suspension consequences for a marijuana DUI arrest in Nevada:

  1. First Offense: For a first offense marijuana DUI in Nevada, the typical driver’s license suspension period is 185 days. During this time, your driving privileges will be restricted, and you may be required to comply with certain conditions, such as completing a DUI education program or installing an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement.
  2. Second Offense: If you have a prior DUI conviction on your record and are arrested for a subsequent marijuana DUI offense, the driver’s license suspension period will be longer than for a first offense. The suspension period for a second offense marijuana DUI in Nevada can range from one year to three years.
  3. Subsequent Offenses: For subsequent marijuana DUI offenses beyond a second offense, the driver’s license suspension penalties become increasingly severe. The exact duration of the suspension period will depend on the number of prior DUI convictions on your record and the specific circumstances of the offense.

How can I fight marijuana DUI charges?

If you are facing marijuana DUI charges in Nevada, it is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and develop an effective defense strategy. Here are some potential defense strategies that may be used to fight marijuana DUI charges:

  1. Challenging Observations: Your lawyer may question the officer’s observations and the basis for the DUI arrest. They can review the evidence to determine if there were any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or biases in the officer’s assessment of your impairment.
  2. Testing Procedures: Your lawyer can challenge the accuracy or reliability of the drug testing procedures used to detect marijuana in your system. They may scrutinize the handling and analysis of the blood or urine samples, challenging the validity of the results, or questioning whether the testing was conducted in accordance with proper protocols.
  3. Traffic Stop Legality: If there are concerns about the legality of the traffic stop that led to your marijuana DUI arrest, your lawyer may challenge the basis of the stop. They can examine whether the officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to initiate the stop, and if any constitutional rights were violated during the stop or subsequent arrest.
  4. Field Sobriety Tests: Your lawyer can evaluate the administration and interpretation of field sobriety tests (FSTs) performed at the scene. They may question the validity of the FSTs and challenge the officer’s conclusions about your impairment based on these tests.
  5. Rising Blood Defense: In cases where the marijuana consumed was ingested before driving, your lawyer might use the “rising blood defense.” This defense argues that the THC levels in your blood were below the legal limit at the time of driving but increased during the time it took for the blood or urine test to be performed.
  6. Witness Testimony: Your lawyer may seek statements or testimony from witnesses who were present at the time of the arrest or who can provide information relevant to your defense. They can help establish an alternative version of events or challenge the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence.

Can I go to jail for a marijuana DUI in Nevada?

If you are convicted of a marijuana DUI in Nevada, it is possible to face jail time as part of the penalties imposed by the court. Here is a detailed explanation of the potential jail terms associated with marijuana DUI convictions in Nevada:

  1. First Offense: For a first offense marijuana DUI in Nevada, the penalties typically include 2 days to 6 months in jail or 24 to 96 hours of community service. The exact duration of the jail term can depend on various factors, such as the circumstances of the offense, any aggravating factors present, and the discretion of the judge.
  2. Second Offense: If you have a prior DUI conviction on your record and are arrested for a subsequent marijuana DUI offense, the penalties become more severe. A second-offense marijuana DUI conviction can result in increased jail time compared to a first offense, with a minimum term of 10 days to 6 months or up to 100 hours of community service.
  3. Subsequent Offenses: Repeat offenses for marijuana DUI in Nevada carry even harsher penalties, including longer jail terms. For third and subsequent DUI offenses, the court may impose mandatory minimum jail sentences of several months to a year, along with other significant consequences such as higher fines, longer license suspension periods, and mandatory substance abuse treatment programs.

Can I get my marijuana DUI case sealed in Nevada?

Sealing a marijuana DUI case in Nevada is possible under certain circumstances, but eligibility depends on the outcome of the case and specific criteria set forth by the law. Here is an explanation of the sealing process and the conditions under which a marijuana DUI case can be sealed in Nevada:

  1. Acquittal or Dismissal: If you were acquitted of the charges or if the charges were dismissed, you may be eligible to have your marijuana DUI case sealed. In these situations, it is generally easier to proceed with sealing the case as there is no conviction on your record.
  2. Conviction: If you were convicted of a marijuana DUI, sealing the case becomes more challenging. Generally, convictions are not eligible for sealing in Nevada. However, there are exceptions. Recent changes in the law have allowed for certain misdemeanor convictions to be sealed after a specific waiting period and meeting certain conditions. For misdemeanor marijuana DUI convictions, the waiting period is one year after the case has been closed, and you must satisfy all the requirements of the sentence, including fines, community service, and any mandated programs.
  3. Sealing Process: To have a marijuana DUI case sealed, you need to file a petition with the court that handled your original case. The court will review the petition and relevant factors, such as the nature of the offense, your criminal history, your rehabilitation efforts, and the impact on public safety. If the court determines that you meet the necessary criteria and poses no danger to the public, they may grant the petition and seal the case.

Can I be deported for a marijuana DUI conviction?

A marijuana DUI conviction can have severe consequences for non-U.S. citizens, including the risk of deportation. Under federal immigration laws, certain criminal offenses, including DUI, can be grounds for removal or deportation, depending on the circumstances and the individual’s immigration status. The potential immigration consequences of a marijuana DUI conviction can vary depending on your immigration status. Non-U.S. citizens who are documented immigrants, such as green card holders (lawful permanent residents), may face deportation proceedings if convicted of a deportable offense like DUI. Undocumented immigrants or those in temporary visa statuses can also face deportation if convicted. Admissibility and risk of deportation can be influenced by various factors, such as the severity of the DUI offense, prior criminal record, presence of aggravating factors (e.g., accidents, injuries, property damage), and the individual’s overall immigration history.

In conclusion, understanding the laws and penalties associated with DUI of marijuana is crucial for individuals in Nevada. If you are facing a marijuana DUI charge, it is essential to consult with ATAC LAW to navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and explore the best defense strategy for your case.

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