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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27425
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hi, I'm 20, and I live in Nevada. On July 4th I was driving

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Hi, I'm 20, and I live in Nevada. On July 4th I was driving home with a friend and my friend got pulled over in Carson City for speeding. The officer smelled alcohol in the car, and gave me a breathilizer; I blew a .14 and admitted to drinking vodka, and was issued a minor consuming alcohol. I have a mandatory court appearance tomorrow, and don't know if I should plead no contest or if hiring a Public Defender will help. I basically want the smallest punishment possible. If this helps, in December I had a Domestic Battery case "sealed" after pleading not guilty due to my lack of criminal history, and now I am scared of what will happen this time, if it will come back to haunt me. Please help!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

The penalties for an underaged DUI in Nevada are somewhat more harsh than if you were over 21. You will face addtional penalties. For one thing, you will be forced to undergo an expensive (approx $100) alcohol evaluation to see if you have an actual alcohol problem, and the very least that your license will be suspended for will be 90 days.

The standard penalties for a first Nevada DUI would be 48 hours to 6 months in jail (of 24 to 96 hours or community service), an anti-alcohol program at DUI school (you pay), fines and court costs which could total on up to $1,000, and a lecture sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving,

The 6 month jail sentence would in all likelihood be suspended so that the court would have leverage to make you complete the above requirements.

DUIs can be challenged, and I don't know enough about yours to say whether you have any issues as to the stop. But you ought to plead not guilty to keep your rights open and ask for a public defender if you can't afford to retain a lawyer. Because of your domestic battery case, which, yes, the court will be able to see, you might not be able to keep this one off of your record. If you can, it will likely take a lawyer to get that for you.

Edited by FranL on 8/2/2010 at 9:59 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for your answer, I didn't get a DUI though, I got a minor in consumption ticket. I fortunately wasn't driving, and my driver passed the field tests.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Lucky you! I can give you some better news, at least.

I saw the "I was driving home with a friend" but missed the "my friend got pulled over."

Here's the statute with which you were charged:

NRS 202.020 Purchase, consumption or possession of alcoholic beverage by minor.

1. Any person under 21 years of age who purchases any alcoholic beverage or any such person who consumes any alcoholic beverage in any saloon, resort or premises where spirituous, malt or fermented liquors or wines are sold is guilty of a misdemeanor.

2. Any person under 21 years of age who, for any reason, possesses any alcoholic beverage in public is guilty of a misdemeanor.

3. This section does not preclude a local governmental entity from enacting by ordinance an additional or broader restriction.

4. For the purposes of this section, possession “in public” includes possession:

(a) On any street or highway;

(b) In any place open to the public; and

(c) In any private business establishment which is in effect open to the public.

5. The term does not include:

(a) Possession for an established religious purpose;

(b) Possession in the presence of the person’s parent, spouse or legal guardian who is 21 years of age or older;

(c) Possession in accordance with a prescription issued by a person statutorily authorized to issue prescriptions;

(d) Possession in private clubs or private establishments; or

(e) The selling, handling, serving or transporting of alcoholic beverages by a person in the course of his or her lawful employment by a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer of alcoholic beverages.

As you can see, this is a zero tolerance crime. There's really no wiggle room to fight this, unless the officer's stop was illegal. And to contest that would probably be a longshot, since police need very little basis to justify making a traffic stop.

The penalties for this can include up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1.000, alcohol treatment or counseling for which you'd be required to pay, some community service, and the possibility of a suspended license for two years.

States usually provide some kind of diversion disposition for a charge like this -- you plead nolo, they suspend the sentence, you work off the conviction with community service and a brief stint on probation, and then the case gets dismissed. However, since you appear to have already gotten something like that with your battering case, it's possible that the prosecutor won't let you get two bites of that apple. I don't see that jail will be a problem for you, but because of your former contact, I would still advise your having a lawyer to see if you can come out of this one without a criminal record.

Edited by FranL on 8/2/2010 at 11:29 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Okay, great. So basically, my best bet of having the most advantageous sentencing, and/or fine means I should sign up for a Public Defender when I get there tomorrow, plead not guilty, then see what this defender can do for me. And the extra time will help me out in the long run.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Also, the person that was driving was my boyfriend of two years. Do you think this would help me out at all, seeing as the term does not include "(b) Possession in the presence of the person's parent, spouse or legal guardian who is 21 years of age or older" ?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

Sorry for the delay but I was eating dinner.

No it doesn't help you that the driver was your boyfriend. They've got you under the provisions I highlighted in boldface. It would help you if you were with a spouse over 21, a parent or a guardian and in possession of alcohol.

Yes, sign up for a public defender and plead not guilty (unless they have a diversion disposition with a promise of dismissal right there ready for you and it's what you want). I think it's worth putting yourself out a little now because of what you can get down the road. Criminal cases can have lifetime consequences, and you've got your whole professional life still ahead of you. You don't want a conviction unless it's absolutely necessary. There are far worse things to have on your record than an MIC, but it would still be a potential barrier for you.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

He is over 21 but we are not married. How do I know if they have a diversion disposition ready for me? Do I only find out if I take the chance and plead no contest?


Thanks for your patience btw

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
If you are arraigned on the charges and come before the judge, you plead not guilty and ask for a public defender. If before or after that you are told that you can have a diversion program, you may not need the lawyer.

You can always take back a NOT guilty plea at any point along the proceedings during the entire pendency of your case. But once you plead anything else, you are pretty wel locked in. So pleading not guilty is the only way to keep your rights open and you don't take it back unless or until you get what you want (or as close to it as you're sure you're going to get). Because of your sealed prior offense, diversion or something like that may have to be negotiated for you. If it's not, you'll know.
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