SB72, Among Other Bills, Proposes Amendments to Existing Nevada DUI Laws; Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Weighs In

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Proposed bills to Nevada’s Legislature include various changes to DUI laws, such as a minimum of two mandatory years served in jail, Interlock device requirements, and automatic testing of blood alcohol concentration for those involved in a car accident. Las Vegas attorney, Joel M. Mann, analyzes the effects these potential bills will have on drivers.

If some of the new bills are approved, it would bring the DUI justice system to a grinding halt, as more and more first time offenders would be required to undergo psychological testing and evaluation, suggests Joel M. Mann, criminal defense attorney.

Nevada’s 76th Legislature convened Feb. 7 to discuss a number of bills, including several addressing current DUI laws. Although similar bills have been voted against in the past, the current legislature assembled following an expose on DUI laws in Nevada by the Reno Gazette-Journal. This periodical discussed, in a series of articles spanning several months in 2010, how current laws are not actively enforced by officials, and the numerous car accidents resulting from the lack of enforcement causing death or serious bodily injury. Joel M. Mann examines how these new bills, if approved, will affect drivers in Nevada.

The most discussed bill, SB72, seeks to prevent the early release of offenders who have been convicted of driving under the influence that results in death or serious bodily injury. The bill’s purpose is to prevent offenders who have been released from prison early to serve their remaining sentence under house arrest or a monitoring program.

According to attorney Joel M. Mann, “The current laws already protect our community. If someone is convicted of a DUI that results in death or serious bodily injury, they are required to spend two years in state prison, and are not permitted to be released on parole or have their sentence suspended.”

Laws regarding DUI resulting in death or serious bodily injury do not specifically address whether someone can serve their sentence under house arrest instead of prison. Since 2000, 40 out of 113 Nevada drivers convicted of DUI causing death or serious body injury only spent a few months in prison before being released on house arrest or to a monitoring program.

Under these programs, offenders typically only have one DUI conviction, and are required to wear alcohol monitoring bracelets on their ankles, seek treatment, find a job or attend school.

“The corrections department should be given the authority to determine if certain offenders can be released on house arrest. The prisons are overcrowded, and it costs more money to imprison those that have been convicted of a DUI for two years, than to allow them out on house arrest, which serves the same purpose. This proposed bill will clarify whether offenders can serve their sentence on house arrest, and who has the authority to make this decision,” asserts Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, Joel M. Mann.

Another bill suggesting changes to Nevada DUI laws is SB42, which automatically requires drivers who are involved in fatal car accidents to be tested for the presence of alcohol. SB15 suggests a requirement for the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel a person’s driver’s license in certain situations if they have been convicted of a DUI.

Other proposed legislation would add a requirement of psychological evaluations to those who have a blood alcohol concentration level of .15 as opposed to the current .18, and treatment would be required at a BAC of .15 instead of .18. This proposed bill would also prevent judges from exempting certain people who have financial hardship from putting the interlock device on their car.

Las Vegas DUI attorney, Joel M. Mann suggests, “If some of the new bills are approved, it would bring the DUI justice system to a grinding halt, as more and more first time offenders would be required to undergo psychological testing and evaluation. Our system as it stands today is not able to handle the sheer volume of cases. The Legislature should spend their valuable time focused on education and prevention of DUI cases, as opposed to increased punishment for first time offenders.”

Joel M. Mann, of the Law Office of Joel M. Mann, represents those accused of DUI offenses in the greater Las Vegas area of South Nevada, including Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Mesquite, Laughlin, Paradise, Spring Valley, Sunrise Manor, Enterprise, Winchester, Whitney and Summerlin South.

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