Driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska can refer to operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs, including both illegal substances and prescription medications. In Nebraska, a DUI conviction carries significant legal consequences, impacting an individual’s life in many ways. Below, Liberty Law Group explains what individuals should know about Nebraska’s DUI laws, outlining the penalties for convictions, potential defenses against charges, and the importance of hiring a knowledgeable defense lawyer if charged with an offense.

DUI Lawyers in Omaha, Nebraska

The defense attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to help those charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Our lawyers can help you understand your rights as a citizen and guide you through the legal process.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI, call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Back to top

Nebraska Drug DUI Law

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196 states that it is illegal for anyone to drive or control a vehicle if they are influenced by alcoholic beverages or any drug, regardless of the specific concentration of drugs in the body. Anyone found operating a vehicle in such a condition, whether due to alcohol or drugs, can be arrested and charged with DUI in the state.

Back to top

What is a Controlled Substance in Nebraska?

In Nebraska law, a controlled substance is defined as a drug or substance listed under Nebraska Revised Statutes 28-405. This definition excludes items like tobacco, hemp, and certain non-narcotic substances that can be lawfully sold over the counter without a prescription.

Controlled substances are placed into one of five “schedules” based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety or dependence liability.

Schedule I substances contain a high risk of abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. This includes many opiates, hallucinogens, and synthetic substances. Examples are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, and methaqualone.

Schedule II substances also contain a high risk of abuse but have an accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and methylphenidate.

Schedule III substances have a potential for abuse less than Schedule I and II substances and have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. Examples include buprenorphine (Suboxone) and Tylenol with codeine.

Schedule IV substances have a low potential for abuse relative to Schedule III substances. They have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. Examples are alprazolam (Xanax), carisoprodol (Soma), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium).

Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse relative to Schedule IV substances and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. They are generally used for antitussive (cough suppressant), antidiarrheal, and analgesic purposes.

In Nebraska, prescription medications that can impair driving ability and lead to criminal charges are primarily from Schedule II and IV. This includes opioids like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, known for their potent pain-relieving effects but also for causing drowsiness and impaired motor skills. Similarly, benzodiazepines such as Alprazolam, Clonazepam, and Diazepam are used for treating anxiety and insomnia but can significantly affect alertness and reaction time, impairing driving ability. An individual who is caught driving under the influence of certain prescription medications could be charged with a prescription drug DUI.

Back to top

Nebraska Implied Consent Law: Drug Testing in DUI Cases

In Nebraska, according to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,197, any person operating or in control of a motor vehicle is automatically considered to have given their consent to undergo chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine. This is to determine the presence of drugs or the concentration of alcohol. If a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe someone was driving or in control of a vehicle under the influence of drugs, they can require the driver to submit to such tests.

Refusing to undergo these tests can lead to serious consequences. If a driver refuses the test, they not only face the administrative license revocation process but also can be charged with a crime. Moreover, refusal to submit to these tests is admissible as evidence in any legal proceedings related to DUI charges.

Additionally, in the event of a motor vehicle accident, a driver can be compelled to undergo testing if there’s reasonable cause to believe they were under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. The law also stipulates that drivers must be informed that refusing the test is a criminal offense. Failure to advise them of this can prevent criminal charges for refusal to test.

Back to top

Process for a Drug-Based DUI Arrest

In Nebraska, when a police officer suspects a driver of being under the influence of drugs, they follow a specific procedure. Initially, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, which can be based on observations such as erratic driving or visible signs of impairment. Upon stopping the driver, the officer assesses for signs of drug intoxication.

Field sobriety tests are typically used in this assessment. These include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, where the officer checks for involuntary jerking of the eye, indicative of impairment. The Walk-and-Turn (WAT) Test evaluates the driver’s ability to follow instructions and maintain balance, while the One-Leg Stand (OLS) Test checks the ability to balance on one foot without swaying, hopping, or using arms for balance. These tests are designed to gauge physical and mental impairment that could be due to drug use.

If these tests suggest impairment, and if a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) for alcohol is negative or below the legal limit, the focus shifts to potential drug impairment. Nebraska utilizes Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), officers trained to identify signs of drug impairment. They conduct a specialized evaluation to identify if the impairment is due to drug use.

Nebraska law requires the use of urine tests to detect the presence of drugs (legal or illegal) in DUI cases. When the individual is arrested, the arresting officer or the DRE must document the reasons for suspecting drug impairment, including any physical evidence or admissions of drug use by the driver.

In cases where a DRE is not available, the investigating officers still have the authority to make an arrest. The officers are required to say in their reports the reasons they believe the driver is impaired by drugs other than alcohol. This includes documenting admissions of drug use, physical evidence, field test results, and other indicators. This documentation is important in substantiating the officer’s decision to arrest an individual in the absence of a DRE’s evaluation.

Back to top

Urine Testing for Drugs

Unlike alcohol, which is usually detected through breath tests, drugs are typically detected through urine samples. When a police officer suspects a driver is under the influence of drugs, they will require the driver to provide a urine sample. This process starts with the officer obtaining a sterile urine specimen container, usually from their department’s Evidence and Property Unit or a nearby hospital. To ensure the sample’s validity, the officer collecting the urine is supposed to be the same gender as the suspect. The collection takes place in a private restroom, and the suspect is observed while providing the sample to prevent tampering.

After the sample is collected, it has to be carefully handled and stored, following strict safety and hygiene protocols. It’s then sent to the Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab for analysis. The results are shared with the police department and prosecutor. If the test indicates drug use, the driver can face charges for drug DUI.

Back to top

Nebraska Penalties for Drug-Influenced Driving Offenses

Fines and Jail

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,197.03, for a first-time offender with no prior convictions, the penalty is classified as a Class W misdemeanor punishable by 0-60 days in jail and a $500 fine. This also includes a six-month revocation of the driver’s license. If the individual has one prior conviction, the crime is a Class W misdemeanor punishable by 0-60 days in jail and a $500 fine, and the license revocation period increases to 18 months. For those with two prior convictions, the offense is a class W misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a 15-year license revocation.

Revocation of License

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-498.01, if a person is arrested for a DUI and refuses a chemical test, or if the test indicates drug impairment, their driver’s license is automatically set to be revoked 15 days after the arrest. The arresting officer must report this to the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within ten days. In this situation, the individual receives a temporary license valid for 15 days and has the option to request a hearing within ten days to challenge the revocation.

If they don’t challenge the revocation or are unsuccessful at the hearing, the license is revoked. Alternatively, the person can apply for an ignition interlock permit or join the state’s 24/7 sobriety program to retain driving privileges during the revocation period. Choosing these options means waiving the right to a hearing to contest the license revocation.

Collateral Consequences

Beyond these immediate legal implications, a DUI offense based on drug use can have long-lasting effects. Notably, a conviction usually cannot be removed from an individual’s criminal record in Nebraska, impacting employment, especially in driving-required jobs, housing opportunities, education prospects, and professional licensing. The financial burden is also significant, including fines, increased insurance rates, and the cost of mandatory drug/alcohol education classes.


Probation is an alternative to incarceration for DUI offenders. During probation, the court imposes conditions to ensure law-abiding behavior, including staying within the court’s jurisdiction, submitting to drug testing, and avoiding illegal activities. Offenders typically undergo a drug and alcohol assessment to determine the extent of their substance dependency, influencing the judge’s sentencing decision.

Additionally, DUI offenders may need to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, which prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected. The courts may also mandate complete abstinence from drug and alcohol use and the use of continuous alcohol monitoring devices to ensure compliance with this condition. Violating these requirements can lead to loss of driving privileges and further legal consequences.

It is important to note that In Nebraska, individuals charged with DUI due to drug use cannot access pretrial diversion programs but might be able to participate in specialized court programs. The Adult Drug Court, aimed at non-violent felony offenders with substance abuse issues, offers an alternative to traditional incarceration, focusing on treatment, case management, and educational and employment goals over 18 to 24 months. For those facing third and fourth DUI offenses due to drugs, the DUI Court program includes substance abuse treatment, regular drug testing, court sessions, and educational components on the risks of impaired driving. Successful completion can lead to reduced charges or probation terms, but this is contingent on fulfilling all of the requirements of the program.

Back to top

Potential Defenses

In defending against a DUI charge in Nebraska due to drug use, several strategies can be employed. One approach is to challenge the legality of the initial traffic stop. If there was no reasonable suspicion, such as erratic driving or visible impairment, then the subsequent evidence, including results of urine tests, may be deemed inadmissible.

A defense might also argue that the individual wasn’t operating or in control of the vehicle. Nebraska law requires the person to be controlling the vehicle to face DUI charges. Proof of absence of control, despite drug influence, could lead to the case getting thrown out.

Questioning the accuracy and administration of drug tests is another strategy. Specifically, defending against a drug-based DUI charge could involve challenging the involvement of a Drug Recognition Expert and the urine testing process. A DRE’s assessment is important in drug DUI cases as they are trained to identify drug-induced impairment. However, this assessment can be scrutinized. Questions might be raised about the DRE’s training, methods used during evaluation, and accuracy in determining drug impairment. If it can be shown that the DRE’s evaluation was flawed, biased, or not conducted according to the standard protocol, it could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.

Relatedly, when a DRE is not available and the arresting officer proceeds with an arrest based on their judgment, a defense can be formed around questioning the officer’s expertise in recognizing drug impairment. Since DREs undergo specialized training, an officer without this training might not correctly identify drug-related impairment.

In addition, the validity of urine testing as evidence is a critical aspect of defense. Defenses can challenge the procedure of urine sample collection, handling, and storage. If the process deviated from standardized protocols or if there were lapses in maintaining the chain of custody, the sample’s accuracy and reliability could be questioned. For instance, if the urine sample was not properly marked, or refrigerated promptly, or if there were any irregularities in handling, it could suggest contamination or mislabeling.

In Nebraska drug-based DUI cases, another defense can focus on potential violations of legal rights. If the defendant wasn’t read their Miranda rights before questioning, their statements may be inadmissible. Similarly, if an officer didn’t correctly inform them about their rights and the consequences of chemical testing, this could challenge the test results’ admissibility in cases of refusal. Additionally, if the defendant’s right to consult a lawyer before the test was denied or rushed, this could invalidate the arrest or test results. Finally, if the defendant wasn’t allowed an independent medical evaluation by their doctor, it could be argued that their legal rights were violated.

Back to top

Role of a Drug DUI Lawyer

In Nebraska, a DUI attorney defends a client charged with a drug DUI. They meticulously review all the evidence, including police reports and test results, to find any errors or inconsistencies that might damage the prosecution’s case. This can lead to reduced charges or even dismissal.

A DUI attorney may negotiate with the prosecution for plea bargains, especially when the evidence against the client is strong, potentially securing reduced charges or lighter sentencing. They also assist with issues related to license revocation, representing the client in DMV hearings, and advising on steps to regain driving privileges.

Attorneys also explore alternative sentencing options such as probation, community service, or enrollment in treatment programs, which can sometimes replace jail time. They develop personalized defense strategies based on the specifics of each case.

Finally, DUI attorneys provide practical advice, helping clients understand the impact of a DUI conviction on their lives. They ensure that their client’s constitutional rights are upheld, such as lawful police conduct during the arrest and proper administration of tests, and any violation of these rights can be used to challenge the DUI charge.

Back to top

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the consequences if you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs in Nebraska?

Arrest and DUI charges, regardless of the specific drug concentration in an individual’s body.

How does Nebraska define a controlled substance for DUI purposes?

Drugs listed under Nebraska statutes, including illegal drugs and certain prescription medications.

How can a drug DUI lawyer help in Nebraska?

By reviewing evidence, negotiating plea bargains, assisting with license issues, and developing defense strategies.

What happens if you refuse drug testing in a Nebraska DUI case?

License revocation, criminal charges, and the use of refusal as evidence in DUI proceedings.

What is the process if a police officer suspects drug impairment during a traffic stop?

Field sobriety tests, possible Drug Recognition Expert evaluation, and urine testing for drugs.

How is drug impairment detected in DUI cases in Nebraska?

Through urine tests conducted by police and analyzed by crime labs.

What collateral consequences can a drug DUI have in Nebraska?

A potential impact on employment, housing, education, professional licensing, and finances.

Can probation be an option for drug DUI offenders in Nebraska?

Yes, with conditions like drug testing, avoiding illegal activities, and possibly ignition interlock devices.

What defenses can be used against drug DUI charges in Nebraska?

Potential defenses include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, test accuracy, and violations of legal rights.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Nebraska Drugged Driving: This article covers some aspects of Nebraska laws forbidding the operation of any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. Also summarizes and provides citations to related state laws.

Report (2021) from the International Association of Police Chiefs (IAPC): This report on the Drug Evaluation Classification (DEC) program, often called the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) training program, includes data on DEC programs and statistics for each state.

Drug Impaired Driving Initiative in Nebraska (2023) This announcement describes the Lincoln, Nebraska extra enforcement effort for drug-impaired driving in April 2023. Also urges drivers to realize that “if you feel different you drive different” while noting that anyone who drives while high faces the same legal consequences as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Back to top

Find a DUI Lawyer for Drug-Related Cases in Omaha, Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

Our firm proudly serves Omaha in Douglas County, including Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Fremont in Dodge County and Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for a DUI, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Back to top