For those who get arrested in Las Vegas, that old adage of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” has little truth. The common traffic citation can stay on your license for several years, so it is no surprise that an arrest of any nature will have an equally noticeable presence on your record. Few people intend to go to Vegas and come back with an arrest report to their name, but it happens more often than you would think. The numerous Las Vegas bail bonds companies stay pretty busy in Sin City.

Strict Laws

Before you head out to Vegas, you should know that the laws and penalties in Nevada for drunk driving are some of the nation’s toughest. For some, a DUI is a temporary lapse in judgment, while others deal with an addiction problem. Fortunately, Nevada has approved several lighter-sentenced alternatives when a person has a first-offense misdemeanor charge for DUI. A first-time DUI in Las Vegas is characterized as a misdemeanor.


Many people use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably when referring to driving while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Nevada uses “driving under the influence” as the official term for those who have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% within two hours of driving, anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and anyone impaired to the degree that is unsafe to operate a motor vehicle.

First-Time Offense

A standard first offense, classified and prosecuted as a misdemeanor, occurs when an individual has been charged for operating a motor vehicle while either drunk or high. If a person hasn’t had a prior DUI issued within the past seven years, the charge could also be labeled as a first offense. It doesn’t matter whether the offense occurred in Nevada or another state, so long as it was seven years prior.

Drivers could be potentially be charged with a “DUI per se” if they are found to have illegal amounts of a controlled substance, such as prescription drugs or marijuana, in their blood. The driver may not be impaired, yet a conviction is still possible. A drug DUI is sometimes referred to as a DUID.

For a first-time offender, it could be possible to get the record sealed seven years after the case is over, or the offender may be able to plea bargain the first offense down to a reckless driving charge or dismissal. These situations can be sealed after just one year.

Harsh Penalties

The consequences of getting caught while driving under the influence vary according to the severity of the intoxication and impairment. The number of priors on the record also has an impact.

First Offense

A first-time DUI leaves a driver with anywhere from two days to six months in jail, between $400 to $1,000 in fine, a license revocation up to 185 days, completion of an eight-hour DUI school and mandatory attendance at a Victim Impact Panel. Depending on the offense, first-timers may be able to petition the court for a change in sentencing. Community service may be served rather than jail time, and a driver may be able to change license revocation to a restricted driver’s license with an additional ignition interlock control. In some cases, a judge will dismiss the charge or reduce it to a lesser consequence.

For those from out of state, the thought of spending time in a Las Vegas jail is unsettling. While you would be entitled to enlist the help of Lightning Bail, a Las Vegas Bail Bonds company, to stay out of jail, it is possible that a judge won’t enforce a jail time penalty. A minimum mandatory sentence could look like the following:

  • Citation fine and court costs (at either Las Vegas Municipal or Las Vegas Justice Court)
  • Attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers or similar Victim Impact Organization (plus the cost of attendance)
  • Completion of an eight-hour traffic safety and alcohol awareness program (able to be completed online and paid for by the defendant)
  • Order to comply with laws and pick up no citations or arrests while the DUI remains open (six months to a year)
  • 185-day license revocation or restricted license with a breath interlock device (installation and maintenance paid by the defendant)
  • Guarantee of SR-22 certificate of insurance for three years following the arrest


Nevada law mandates that a DUI offender serve two days, but lenient judges will often count the time spent during the arrest and initial incarceration as time served. However, if an individual used Lightning Bail, a Las Vegas Bail bonds company, to avoid jail time upon arrest, the judge may change the sentence to community service for 48 to 96 hours. A judge can also impose six months of suspended jail time, and so long as all sentencing terms are complied with, the defendant won’t do any time behind bars.

Additional Offenses

Though the consequences of a first offense should be enough to deter future DUI driving incidents, the severity of consequences increases as the number of arrests increases. A second offense can lead to jail time or residential confinement that can span 10 days to six months, and the fines increase up to $1,100 with court costs. Third offenses within seven years are considered a category B felony with one to six years in State prison and fines that can reach up to $5,000. License revocation or suspension can last for three years, and the record is never sealed.

If a DUI causes injury or death, the offense is automatically a category B felony, regardless of a clean criminal record. Any DUIs that occur after a felony DUI has already been served is automatically a category B offense. Prison time is anywhere from two to 15 years.

Bail Bond Assistance

If you or a loved one ever face a DUI charge, you may be able to avoid spending the night in jail by contacting Lightning Bail. A Las Vegas bail bonds company, we provide the best, most affordable bail bonds for the entire state. Our offices provide 24-hour efficient, confidential services for any jail in Nevada with flexible payment programs and multiple ways to pay. Fill out our online request form or give us a call at 702-333-2663.