Nevada Lawmaker Cleared of DUI Charge On Appeal

If you're arrested for driving under the influence, don't assume that your conviction is a done deal. Nevada criminal defense attorneys can and do successfully challenge evidence all of the time.

A case in point is one involving a Nevada assemblyman whose district is in Las Vegas. The man was arrested almost a year ago in Carson City after he was found asleep in the driver's seat. The engine of his vehicle was running. He had reportedly just left a bar in the city, where he was in town for the legislative session. His blood alcohol content was reportedly at was .10 percent -- above the legal limit of .08. To make matters worse, he was carrying a loaded pistol at the time.

An attorney for the assemblyman argued that his client "was not driving and had no intention of driving when he entered his vehicle." He said that he was waiting for a ride and only had the engine idling to keep warm. However, as the judge at his trial noted, he still met the standard of DUI because "had the opportunity to not get in the car, to not get in the driver's seat."

Judges generally look at the overall situation when a person is found to be intoxicated behind the wheel, but not actually driving, to determine whether or not the defendant had been driving or intended to drive. In this case, however, the original conviction was overturned on appeal because of questions about the handling of the evidence.

The assemblyman's attorneys argued that the technician from the crime lab who testified in the case did not handle the blood test through all stages. Therefore, they pointed out, that technician couldn't ensure the accuracy of the results. The appellate judge in Carson City agreed and overturned the conviction last month.

It's important to note that even being behind the wheel of a car while under the influence can get you arrested. If you determine that you're in no condition to drive, it's best to stay out of your vehicle and wait somewhere else for a ride. If you are arrested for DUI, regardless of the circumstances, it's best to seek legal advice to see if and how the charges can be challenged.

Source: Daily Journal, "A Carson City judge overturned a Nevada assemblyman's convictions of driving under the influence and possessing a firearm while intoxicated," Jan. 27, 2016

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