Tag Archives: Las Vegas DUI

When St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness Collide…Law Enforcement is on High Alert for DUI

Driver's License SuspensionMarch Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament, starts this week. March Madness is the college equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl. Fans from all over the flock to the tournament, which is hosted in Houston, Texas, this year. Those fans, who are unable to attend the tournament in person, attend watch parties and other special events.

In Las Vegas several casinos and party venues, including Treasure Island, The Hard Rock Hotel, and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will be hosting special March Madness events and offering luxury events with premium seating, open bar, and other festivities.

As a lone event, March Madness will bring out a large numbers of patrons looking to have a good time, but March Madness occurs the same week as St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday commemorating Christianity’s arrival in Ireland and widely celebrates Irish culture. Commonly, people celebrate the holiday by wearing green, yellow, and white and partaking in traditional Irish foods and beer.

Party venues throughout Las Vegas and surrounding areas will have drink specials to attract the March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day crowds. In light of the celebratory spirit, Las Vegas law enforcement will be on high alert for drunk and impaired drivers.

According to a press release from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department there will be a “Sobriety Saturation” event on St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 7:00pm to 3:00am. During Sobriety Saturation events law enforcement focuses considerable effort on identifying drug and alcohol impaired drivers before they are involved in a collision.

With the increased effort by Las Vegas law enforcement, it is important to be aware of the following:

Las Vegas Law Enforcement can Force a Blood Draw with a Warrant

Assembly Bill 67 went into effect late last year.  Assembly Bill 67 requires law enforcement apply for a warrant or other court order directing for the use of reasonable force to obtain a blood sample.

This means if a driver is stopped under the suspicion of drunk or impaired driving, the driver cannot simply refuse to submit to a blood test. The law enforcement officer now has the power to apply for a warrant or court order authorizing the use of reasonable force to obtain a blood sample.

If the driver refuses the blood draw, requires the officer to obtain a warrant, and is later found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, the driver will not only be charged with DUI but also have his or her driver’s license revoked for  fifteen months.

Assembly Bill 67 makes it pointless to refuse a blood sample. Once a driver refuses, the officer can request a warrant or court order from a judge. With such high profile events in the Las Vegas area, judges will likely be on call around the clock to sign a warrant.

Drunk or Impaired Driving in Nevada is Dangerous 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 1,0125 people were killed in alcohol related automobile accidents. According to the CDC, the percentage of alcohol related fatalities is slightly lower than the national average, due to law enforcement’s aggressive efforts, including regular sobriety saturation events.

Predicting BAC is Impossible

For legal purposes, intoxication is determined by a driver’s BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration. In Nevada, a driver age 21 or older can be charged with DUI if he or she has a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

A BAC of 0.08 indicates the driver has 0.8 parts alcohol in his or her blood per 1,000 parts of blood. An individual’s BAC is a result of several factors including the individual’s weight, fat content, metabolism, amount of alcohol consumed, frequency of alcohol consumed, food consumed, amount of time since the last alcohol beverage was consumed, and other factors.

It is impossible to precisely predict whether a beverage will make a person’s BAC reach or exceed 0.08.Many drivers will say they feel fine or do not feel intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It is important to air on the side of caution and not drive after consuming alcohol.

Nevada Imposes Severe Penalties for Drunk Driving

Even for a first-offense DUI, the state of Nevada imposes serious criminal penalties. A conviction for a first offense DUI is punishable by jail time between 48 hours to a maximum of 6 months, or, at least 96 hours of community service.

The court may also impose a fine between $340 and $1,175.00, a mandatory alcohol education course, license suspension,  and the installation of a breath interlock device. The breath interlock device tests BAC before the vehicle can start.

Penalties for second and subsequent DUI are more severe and result in longer jail time and steeper fines.

A conviction for DUI can seriously disrupt aspect of a driver’s professional and personal life. It is better to be safe than sorry this holiday. Designate a sober driving, hire a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, and refrain from driving. The consequences for a DUI conviction are not worth it.

Conclusion

Joel Mann is an experienced DUI defense attorney located in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has nearly a decade of experienced defending individuals faced with all types of DUI charges, including First DUI, Repeat DUI, DUI and Marijuana, Out of State DUI, and Per Se DUI.

If you are arrested and face DUI charges during the March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day festivities, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. Joel Mann offers free consultations and will begin building your defense right away. Contact The Law Office of Joel Mann at (702) 474-6266 to schedule a free consultation.

Recent Changes to Nevada’s DUI Laws

Awesome-Whiskey-Keys

Under NRS 484C.160, Nevada’s implied consent law previously allowed a police officer to use “reasonable force” to obtain a warrantless sample of blood from the person who refused to consent.

After the most recent changes in the law, now an officer can only make the request that the driver submit to an evidentiary test if the officer had sufficient reason to believe that the person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.  Should a person not provide their consent to an evidentiary test, the law requires the officer to obtain a warrant signed by a Judge.  However, there are dramatic consequences to your license, that you need to be aware of, should you request a warrant first.

The officer can request different types of evidentiary tests depending on the circumstances. Those evidentiary tests include a blood or breath test to determine the alcoholic content of the blood or breath. A blood or urine test can also be used to test to determine the presence of:

  1. a controlled substance;
  2. chemical;
  3. poison;
  4. organic solvent; or
  5. another prohibited substance.

Knowing that the law allowed warrantless and forced blood draws, officers started pushing the envelop by taking blood by force under circumstances that shocked the public. Officers across the country started conducting “No Refusal Weekends” and conducting forced blood draws during DUI checkpoints.

Since judges were not involved in signing warrants, officers continued to find new ways to take blood. The evening news started showing videos of ordinary citizens being strapped down so that officers could oversee forced blood draws. Public outrage over some of the practices started to mount.

Missouri v. McNeely

Despite the public outrage over forced blood draws, the law enforcement community in Nevada and throughout the county was shocked when the United States Supreme Court decided Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ––––, ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 1568, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013) (plurality opinion). In McNeely, the Court found that warrantless  forced blood draws violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

A warrantless search is reasonable only where it falls within a recognized exception such as consent or exigent circumstances. The McNeely court then rejected the proposition that exigent circumstances resulted merely from the fact that alcohol or drugs would dissipate in the driver’s blood after a DUI arrest.

Prior to the McNeely decision, many judges used the landmark decision in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) to support the proposition that the rapid dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream, by itself, creates an emergency that justifies a warrantless blood draw.

Under McNeely, the court held that the court must review of the totality of the circumstances, not just the rapid dissipation of alcohol, in determining whether any exigency existed.

The McNeely Court recognized that there is no justification for applying the exigent circumstances exception when “officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search.” Id. at ––––, 133 S.Ct. at 1561.

Although the McNeely Court found that the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis considering the totality of the circumstances, the decision did not provide a list of factors to be considered. Because the totality of the circumstances was not litigated in the case, the Court found there were no exigent circumstances and that the warrantless blood draw was unconstitutional. Id.

Byars v. State

Shortly thereafter, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the consent implied by a person’s decision to drive in this State is not voluntary consent to an evidentiary blood test and, thus, existing laws that allow a police officer to obtain a blood sample from a person without a warrant and without voluntary consent are unconstitutional. Byars v. State, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 85, 336 P.3d 939 (2014)).

Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McNeely, the Byars Court concluded that the natural dissipation of alcohol or controlled substances did not, standing alone, create exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood draw.

The court further concluded that NRS 484C.160(7) was unconstitutional because it permits officers to use force to take a suspect’s blood without a warrant, valid consent, or another exception to the warrant requirement.

Nevada’s 2015 Assembly Bill 67

In response to the Byars decision, the Nevada Legislature passed 2015 Assembly Bill 67. The new law made several changes to Nevada’s implied consent scheme.

First, 2015 Assembly Bill 67 eliminated the constitutional defect identified by the Nevada Supreme Court by requiring that if a person refuses to submit to an evidentiary blood test at the request of a police officer:

  1. the officer may apply for a warrant or other court order directing the use of reasonable force to obtain the blood sample; and
  2. the person’s driver’s license must be revoked for a certain period.

NRS 484C.210 now provides that if the subject fails to submit to an evidentiary test as requested by a police officer pursuant to NRS 484C.160, the license, permit or privilege to drive of the person must be revoked as provided in NRS 484C.220, and the person is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive for a period of:

  1. One year; or
  2. Three years, if the license, permit or privilege to drive of the person has been revoked during the immediately preceding 7 years for failure to submit to an evidentiary test.

Secondly, 2015 Assembly Bill 67 authorizes the revocation of a person’s license, permit or privilege to drive if an evidentiary test reveals the presence of a detectable amount of a controlled substance or prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine for which he or she did not have a valid prescription or hold a valid registry identification card.

In those cases, the permit or privilege of the person to drive must be revoked as provided in NRS 484C.220 and the person is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege for a period of 90 days.

A driver should be aware that a person whose license is revoked for refusing to submit to an evidentiary test and is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more could be look at a loss of license for the one-year period plus the 90-day period, for a total of 15 months.  Under the current law there is no provision that allows a person to be able to drive for a recognized hardship during the one-year period.

Thirdly, the Nevada legislature corrected an issue that kept being litigated in DUI cases regarding a person asleep in a car when the car had not been driven.  AB 67 states that “a person shall be deemed not to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if:

  1. The person is asleep inside the vehicle;
  2. The person is not in the driver’s seat of the vehicle;
  3. The engine of the vehicle is not running;
  4. The vehicle is lawfully parked; and
  5. Under the facts presented, it is evident that the person could not have driven the vehicle to the location while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance or a prohibited substance.

This allows a person to do the right thing and realize before they drive home under the influence that they can fall asleep in the passenger’s seat and not be assumed to have driven or in actual physical control of the car.  The previous law punished a person who did not drive but fell asleep in the car.  The new law has fixed this issue.

Conclusion

The McNeely and Byars decisions have impacted thousands of DUI cases across the State of Nevada involving a warrantless and non-consensual blood draw.  Even felony DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death were impacted. Lower courts are making totality of the circumstances decisions in a case by case basis with little guidance from the higher courts.

If your case involves a non-consensual warrantless blood draw, then find out more about how recent decisions will impact the admissibility of the evidentiary blood test in your case. Contact Joel Mann, an experienced criminal defense attorney focused on drunk driving defense. Contact Joel Mann’s office at (702) 474-6266 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the case either over the phone or in the office.

 

Las Vegas Arrests on New Year’s Eve 2015-16

iStock_000003177126SmallIf you are coming to Las Vegas to celebrate on New Year Eve you need to be aware of the dangers in your revelry.  The amount of tourist traveling to nightclubs and gentlemen’s club will substantially increase as many people come to Las Vegas to ring in the New Year. Many club-hoppers, who overindulge in drugs and alcohol, make bad decisions. The loud music, dancing, and crowds often influence people take chances they wouldn’t normally take.  Make sure you do not put yourself another statistic.

Law enforcement officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”) use this opportunity to crack down on drug crimes and rack up arrests for a variety of related offenses, including DUI.

If you going to a nightclub in Las Vegas on the evening of December 31, 2015, or the early morning hours of January 1, 2016, you should expect local law enforcement officers to be out in full force.

In some cases, overly aggressive bouncers and security officers work with law enforcement to help them arrest a patron of the club. An arrest for using or selling any controlled substance comes with serious consequences under Nevada law.

It is important for you to recognize that the Las Vegas nightclubs have staff watching at every location, especially the bathrooms.  Joel Mann has had many drug cases originate from club staff waiting in the bathroom for any signs of drug use.  Once they suspect you of using drugs they will take you into custody and bring you down to the casino’s holding room, awaiting for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to arrive.

The most commonly used drugs in Las Vegas nightclubs include: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, GHB and heroin.

Defenses to drug crimes after an arrest in a Las Vegas nightclub can include:

  1. The law enforcement officer conducted an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution that should lead to the suppression of the evidence at trial;
  2. The law enforcement officer or someone acting in cooperation with the officer manufactured the crime and entrapped the defendant into using or selling drugs when the defendant was not otherwise predisposed to commit the crime; or
  3. The defendant did not actually or consecutively possess the drug because he didn’t know of its presence.

Knowledge often becomes in issue in drug cases in area nightclubs because another person could secretly plant the drugs on the defendant in order to avoid detection.

The penalties and punishments for drug possession in Las Vegas, Nevada, depend on a host of factors including the type of narcotics possessed, the quantity of the narcotics, and the surrounding circumstances.

Under Nevada law, a criminal charge of selling drugs is classified as either a Category C felony or a Category B felony depending on the type of drugs sold. The maximum sentence for these offenses includes a lengthy prison sentence and stiff fines.

For possession with intent to sale, the offense is classified as a Category D felony.

Simple possession of a controlled substance is a Category E felony in Nevada that carries with it one to four years in prison. For first time offenders charged with a possession charge, it is usually possible to avoid any incarceration by completing counseling and probation.

Drug crimes involving marijuana involve an entirely different set of penalties.

The top nightclubs in Las Vegas, Nevada, include:

  • Bellagio:
    • The Bank
    • Hyde
  • The Cromwell:
    • Drai’s
  • Delano:
    • FDR
  • Hard Rock Hotel:
    • Vanity
    • Body English
  • Luxor:
    • Savile Row
    • LAX
  • Mandalay Bay:
    • Foundation Room
    • LIGHT
  • Mirage:
    • 1OAK
  • Palms:
    • Rain
    • Moon
    • Ghostbar
  • Paris:
    • Chateau
  • Planet Hollywood:
    • Extra Lounge
  • SLS:
    • LiFE
  • The Sayers Club
    • Foxtail
  • Wynn:
    • XS
    • Tryst
    • Surrender
  • Venetian:
    • Tao

Additional Resources

Statistics on New Year’s Eve Arrests in Las Vegas – Each year the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) releases final statistics on the number of arrests made on New Year’s Eve. The 2014-2015 New Year’s Eve celebration stood out as one of the most orderly within recent history with 19 people being booked into the Clark County Detention Center on various felony and misdemeanor offenses. Two other people received Class II citations from within the Strip corridor. The Downtown Area Command, which covers the Fremont Street Experience, reported 3 arrests. Only 9 DUI arrests occurred within the Metro’s jurisdiction. By comparison, for the New Year’s Eve celebration four years earlier, 159 people were arrested including 68 arrests for DUI by the police department and another 48 arrests for DUI by the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Conclusion

Joel Mann is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has extensive experience defending clients charged with drug and alcohol related offenses. He is experienced with the tactics used by officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in drug cases in area nightclubs during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Joel Mann also knows the importance of obtaining the surveillance video of the incident when it is likely to be helpful to the case. In many cases the surveillance video might help establish important defenses to the charges.

For your New Year’s Celebration, keep in mind that area police will be out in full force. If an arrest occurs, contact Joel Mann to discuss your case and important defense to protect your good name after a criminal charge is made against you. For charges related to drug crimes or DUI, Joel Mann has the experience to help you fight for the best result in your case.

Will Forced Blood Draws For DUIs Remain Legal In Nevada?

Sobriety Check

The United States Supreme Court heard argument yesterday regarding whether police need to obtain a warrant before forcing a person to provide blood for a DUI test.  The case involves a Missouri man that was stopped on suspicion of DUI.  In Missouri they allow a person to choose to participate in evidentiary testing, i.e. blood or breath, test for DUIs or lose their license for one year.  In the case before the United States Supreme Court the defendant chose to not have a blood test but the police forced him to provide one anyway.

From the argument it appeared that the Supreme Court Justices were entertaining the idea that police should be required to obtain a warrant before forcing anyone to provide a blood sample.  However, it also appeared that the Justices were not willing to say that it would happen in all DUI tests done.

If the US Supreme Court comes out with a ruling later in the year indicating that a blood test requires a warrant first how would it effect drivers and suspected DUI drivers in Nevada.  This is very difficult to state at this time because the nuances of the Supreme Court’s ruling are not clear, so this is pure speculation…

First you need to look at the current state of the law in Nevada for suspected DUI.  Currently Nevada law allows for the police to do forced blood draws from any person that they suspect is DUI.  Nevada is different from Missouri in that Nevada does not provide a choice for drivers to either submit to the blood test or lose their license, Nevada says that all people must provide a blood or breath test when suspected of DUI.  A driver only gets a choice between which test they take, blood or breath test, when it is believed that it is their first time DUI offense.

If the US Supreme Court says that police need to obtain a warrant before a blood draw, it could stop the way all DUIs are handled in Las Vegas and the State of Nevada.  No longer would it be a given that all people who drive a car are subjecting themselves to the possibility that they will be strapped to a gurney and forced to provide blood.  However, the US Supreme Court could easily state that because Missouri allows for a choice for drivers and the drivers do not choose the test that the police then must obtain a warrant.  If that was the case, Nevada’s laws may not change at all.

My belief is that whatever the US Supreme Court decides this will be a change in how the legal community looks at DUIs and could foster a long series of litigation on the constitutionality of each state’s laws.  For more information on DUI laws in Las Vegas, Nevada go to my webpage.

Nearly 100 Arrested for DUI in Las Vegas and Surrounding Areas During New Year’s

Las Vegas is a popular destination to celebrate the New Year, both for residents and tourists across the globe. In fact, roughly 300,000 visitors joined the celebration recently. With the increased amount of people consuming alcohol, police in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County were out in force over the holiday weekend. Last year, roughly 80 people were arrested in the area for driving under the influence (DUI) in the area. This year the number rose to about 100, due in part to the increased presence of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies in Henderson and Boulder City.

Tactics employed by Clark County law enforcement included the placement of several DUI vans across the valley. These vans helped expedite the processing of suspected drunk drivers before they were sent to jail during the busy holiday weekend. No DUI checkpoints were used during New Years this year, though there was heightened patrol presence by police, particularly in the Las Vegas Strip and downtown areas on December 31st.

First time offenders who were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs this weekend are facing Nevada’s less than lenient DUI laws. For a first DUI with blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher, a person can find themselves facing:

  • Between 48 hours and 6 months in jail;
  • Between $400 and $1,000 in fines;
  • 90 days driver’s license suspension;
  • DUI school completion; and / or
  • Alcohol treatment.

Penalties for a first DUI increase if there was serious bodily injury or death involved, or the BAC was 0.15% or higher.

However, it’s critical to remember that an arrest for DUI does not mean that conviction will necessarily follow, even if the alleged offender fails the blood or breathalyzer test. Science is not infallible and the results from chemical tests can be skewed due to poor testing machine maintenance, improper testing procedure, certain medical conditions, and other factors. An experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer understands this and does not settle for the easiest outcome. Depending on the circumstances of a person’s case, there are many defense options to DUI that can be pursued, including case dismissal, and motion to suppress or exclude evidence.

Las Vegas DUI Attorney Explains Nevada License Suspension Hearings

Gavel

Given the recent Halloween DUI checkpoints in Las Vegas, local jails in Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, have undoubtedly seen an influx of temporary residents. These men, women, and even minors are generally concerned with the immediate criminal charges they may face. A potential conviction may lead to heavy fines, lengthy jail time, installation of an ignition interlock device, counseling, or other penalties. However, the administrative driver’s license suspension also spells trouble since the temporary loss of driving privileges can greatly impact your lifestyle.

If you test .08 or higher on a breath test, the officer will immediately seize your driver’s license on behalf of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In the case of blood or urine tests, an order for license revocation will be sent to you if illegal alcohol levels or the presence of drugs are subsequently revealed. You have seven days to request an administrative license suspension hearing, which the officer will inform you of.

Please note that this hearing is not mandatory and there are no penalties for exercising this option as the administrative license suspension is automatic unless contested. Winning this administrative hearing will allow you to retain your license until the outcome of the criminal trial. Witnesses may be called (including the arresting officer); therefore, your attorney may gain valuable information to use in the later criminal trial, especially since the prosecutor will not be present during this hearing.

The administrative license suspension hearing is conducted by a hearing officer at the Nevada DMV Office of Administrative Hearings, located on 2701 E. Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV. This civil hearing is much more limited in nature than the criminal trial. The hearing officer will determine if the license revocation should continue after considering whether you had an alcohol concentration level of 0.08  or higher in your blood or breath at the time of arrest. In the case of drug-related DUI, any blood or urine tests that showed prohibited substances will also be reviewed.

Unfortunately in an administrative hearing, the burden is on the defendant to show that he was not driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.  This is a very tough burden to overcome and many hearings are lost, however the benefit of hearing evidence and the chance that we are successful is worth it.

It is the job of your attorney to use any weaknesses in these results and show that the evidence does not support the revocation. Results from blood, breath, or urine tests are not always accurate. Procedural errors, your physiology and medical history can be used by your defense lawyer to help you retain your license. It may therefore be in your best interests to consult with a Las Vegas DUI attorney as soon after arrest as possible, regardless of the DUI test results.

Illegal Traffic Stops and Probable Cause

Earlier this week, Douglass Juarez, a Washoe County, NV resident, was relieved to learn that his felony drug charges for transporting roughly 9 pounds of marijuana were dropped. The arresting officer did find the drugs in question in Douglas Juarez’s car, so why were the charges dropped? The answer: a technicality.

The arrest was made in Wyoming, where the state district court had previously ruled that the Wyoming law requiring motorists to signal when merging onto an interstate was ambiguous. Since the law was ambiguous and therefore unenforceable, the police officer had no probable cause to stop Douglass Juarez. Thus, the stop made by the police was illegal and all evidence obtained could be suppressed in court, leaving the prosecution very little to go on.

DUI cases in particular can be affected by the question of probable cause and illegal stops. As a Las Vegas DUI attorney, I have witnessed how illegal traffic stops can turn the tide in a case. A law enforcement officer can pull a car over with probable cause, which often commonly includes:

  • A driver swerving erratically
  • Abrupt stops by a driver
  • A driver drifting between lanes
  • A driver driving at high or low speeds

The law enforcement officer needs to have witnessed a traffic violation or crime committed by the driver or a passenger. If it is revealed in court that this was not the case, then any evidence obtained after the fact can be suppressed, similar to what occurred in Douglass Juarez’s case. This includes the results of field sobriety tests.

Whether a person is facing DUI charges, marijuana charges, or drug charges in Las Vegas, it is critical for the defense to explore the circumstances in which the stop was made. If you think your arresting officer had no probable cause to pull your vehicle over, then it is important to call a criminal defense attorney who can file a motion to dismiss the case or suppress evidence on your behalf.

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