In Nebraska, felony DUI offenses are pursued with notable severity by the state’s legal system. Even first-time felony offenses can lead to substantial jail time, significant fines, and other consequences such as the stain of a criminal record. Notably, minor differences in an individual’s circumstances could result in them facing felony charges versus lower-level misdemeanor charges. Read the following information for clarification on the implications of a felony DUI in Nebraska, penalties, potential alternatives to imprisonment, defenses against criminal charges, and benefits of retaining a DUI attorney.

Felony DUI Lawyer in Omaha

The attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to provide legal counsel and defense for those charged with DUI. Felony charges are much stronger than standard DUI charges and can carry significant consequence without legal representation.

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

Felony DUI in Nebraska

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What Is a DUI?

In the state of Nebraska, under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196, individuals are legally prohibited from operating a motor vehicle if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. The law specifies two main conditions that can lead to a DUI charge.

First, if an individual is found to be under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs to a degree that impairs their ability to drive safely.

Second, the law sets a measurable standard for alcohol impairment: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more. This means that if a person’s blood contains eight-hundredths of one gram or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters, or their breath contains the same proportion of alcohol per 210 liters, they are legally considered to be driving under the influence.

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Types of Felony DUIs

DUI with Two Prior Convictions and High BAC or Refusal to Test

When someone in Nebraska has two previous DUI convictions and gets arrested again with a high blood alcohol level (0.15% or more) or refuses to take a test, they face a Class IIIA felony that is punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine. They could face at least 180 days in jail and lose their driver’s license for 15 years. If they get probation, they still can’t drive for 45 days, must pay a $1,000 fine, and spend 60 days in jail.

DUI with Three Prior Convictions

A DUI becomes a Class IIIA felony in Nebraska for anyone who’s been convicted three times before. Someone with a fourth DUI faces at least 180 days in jail and a 15-year driver’s license revocation. On probation, they can’t drive for 45 days and must apply for a special permit that includes an alcohol-testing device known as an ignition interlock device. Additionally, they have to pay a $2,000 fine, spend 90 days in jail, and then use an alcohol monitoring device continuously for at least 90 days after getting out.

DUI with Three Prior Convictions and High BAC or Refusal to Test

When an individual has three prior DUI convictions and is arrested again with a high blood alcohol level (0.15% or more) or refuses to take a DUI test, they face a Class IIA felony that is punishable by 0-20 years in prison. The individual faces a mandatory one-year prison sentence and loses their driver’s license for 15 years. If given probation, they must not drive for 45 days, pay a $2,000 fine, spend 120 days in jail, and use an alcohol monitoring device for at least 120 days after release.

DUI with Four or More Prior Convictions

If a person in Nebraska is convicted of a DUI and they have four or more prior convictions, it’s treated as a Class IIA felony that is punishable by 0-20 years in prison. The law requires at least a two-year prison sentence and a 15-year driver’s license revocation. On probation, they’re not allowed to drive for 45 days and must follow specific conditions like paying a $2,000 fine, spending 180 days in jail, and using an alcohol monitoring device for at least 180 days post-release.

DUI with Four or More Prior Convictions and High BAC or Refusal to Test

In Nebraska, if someone has four or more past DUI convictions and is arrested again with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or if they refuse a test, they face a Class II felony that is punishable by 1-50 years in prison. This includes a minimum two-year prison sentence and a 15-year loss of their driver’s license. If on probation, they can’t drive for 45 days, must pay a $2,000 fine, spend 180 days in jail, and use a continuous alcohol monitoring device for no less than 180 days after jail.

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,198, DUI causing serious injury is treated as a Class IIIA felony that is punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine. Furthermore, the court will prohibit the individual from driving for 60 days to 15 years and revoke their driver’s license for the same duration. This law comes into play when the driver, while intoxicated, causes an injury that has severe consequences such as potential death, permanent significant disfigurement, or long-term impairment or loss of a body part or organ.

DUI Resulting in Death

Nebraska Revised Statute 28-306 outlines the circumstances under which a DUI resulting in death is classified as a felony. Typically, causing death while driving is a Class I misdemeanor, but it escalates to a Class IIA felony when the death is caused by a driver under the influence. A Class IIA felony can be punishable by a prison sentence of 0-20 years. The penalty also includes a driving ban of 1 to 15 years. If the driver has a previous DUI conviction, the charge becomes a Class II felony that is punishable by 1-50 years in prison, and the driving ban extends to the full 15 years.

DUI Causing Death of an Unborn Child

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 28-394, causing the death of an unborn child while driving under the influence is classified as a Class IIIA felony that is punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine. The charge becomes more severe, a Class IIA felony, if the driver has a prior DUI conviction. In both Class IIA and Class IIIA felony cases, the individual faces a driving ban ranging from 60 days to 15 years.

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Understanding the Impact of a Felony DUI

License Revocation Process Following a DUI Arrest

Under the Nebraska Revised Statute 60-498.01, individuals arrested for a DUI, particularly those facing a felony offense, experience an immediate and automatic revocation of their driver’s license. This process begins right after the arrest, especially if the individual refuses to undergo a chemical test or if the test indicates a high alcohol concentration. The arresting officer provides a notice of intent to revoke the license, which becomes effective 15 days after the arrest.

The individual has a 10-day window to request an administrative hearing to challenge this revocation. Alternatively, they can apply for an ignition interlock permit, allowing them to drive vehicles fitted with a breath-monitoring device, or for a permit under a 24/7 sobriety program. However, applying for these permits means that the individual cannot contest the revocation of the license.

Vehicle Restrictions for Felony DUI Offenders

In Nebraska, when someone is convicted of a felony DUI by virtue of being a repeat offender, the court can immobilize their vehicles for 5 days to 8 months. This action suspends the registration and license plates of all vehicles they own. However, if a lienholder or a different registered owner has a legitimate claim, they can reclaim the vehicle. They must submit an affidavit to the court, declaring the necessity of the vehicle for work and family care, and promising not to allow its use by the convicted individual or anyone with a similar conviction.

Ignition Interlock Devices

For those with felony DUIs, Nebraska usually requires the use of an ignition interlock device. This device, acting as a breathalyzer, must be blown into before the vehicle can start. It prevents operation if it detects blood or breath alcohol concentration above a set limit. After an initial no-driving period, typically 45 days, individuals can drive vehicles equipped with this device. Compliance with this requirement throughout the entire revocation period is essential for license reinstatement.

Alcohol Assessment

Undergoing an alcohol assessment by a licensed counselor is typically required for those convicted of felony DUIs in Nebraska. This evaluation, which the convicted individual pays for, helps determine the extent of their alcohol-related issues. The judge considers the assessment results when determining the sentence and may require adherence to the assessment’s recommendations.

Mandatory Alcohol Abstinence

The courts in Nebraska may require individuals with felony DUI convictions to abstain from alcohol. This requirement aims to prevent repeat offenses by ensuring the individual stays away from behaviors leading to impaired driving. Violating this order, such as consuming alcohol, can result in severe consequences, including the loss of the ignition interlock permit.

Use of Alcohol Monitoring Devices

Alcohol monitoring devices may be required for those convicted of felony DUIs. These devices continuously track and report alcohol levels to probation authorities, often used in conjunction with ignition interlock devices. Non-compliance can lead to revocation of permits and further legal actions.

Special Penalties for Felony Offenders

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196.01 addresses the issue of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs following a felony DUI conviction. If such a person is found operating or in control of a vehicle and has a BAC of 0.02%, they will be guilty of a Class IIIA misdemeanor. This is in addition to any other penalties they might face for operating a vehicle under the influence, including the more severe penalties under a standard DUI.

Collateral Impact of a Felony DUI Offense

In Nebraska, a felony DUI offense can profoundly affect an individual’s life. This mark on their criminal record can create significant challenges in many areas. Employment opportunities might become limited, particularly in roles that involve driving. Housing searches could be more strenuous due to landlords excluding those with felony convictions on their criminal records. Financially, the individual may face increased insurance premiums. Students could be kicked out of their educational programs, and professionals risk losing their professional licenses.

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Sentencing Alternatives for Felony DUI Offenders in Nebraska

Adult Drug Court

Nebraska offers the Adult Drug Court, a program specifically designed for non-violent felony DUI offenders grappling with substance abuse issues. This alternative to traditional incarceration focuses on treatment and rehabilitation. The program, typically lasting between 18 to 24 months, emphasizes substance abuse treatment, case management, and support for achieving educational and employment objectives.

Participants receive mental health treatment, participate in regular court hearings, undergo random drug testing, and join support groups. The program is managed by a team of professionals including coordinators and case managers. Successful completion of the Adult Drug Court program can potentially lead to the dismissal of charges, offering a chance for participants to rebuild their lives.

DUI Court

Nebraska’s DUI Court is designed for individuals facing their third or fourth DUI offenses. Entry into this program requires an assessment to evaluate the severity of substance abuse and the risk of reoffending. Those with a history of violent crimes are typically ineligible. The DUI Court program requires substance abuse treatment, which can include counseling, group therapy, and possibly detoxification.

A major component is maintaining sobriety, monitored through regular drug and alcohol testing. Participants must regularly attend DUI Court sessions and comply with probation requirements, such as frequent check-ins. The program also educates individuals on the dangers of impaired driving and strategies for maintaining sobriety. Completion of the DUI Court program can lead to legal benefits like reduced charges, lower fines, or shortened probation periods, contingent upon the participant’s compliance with all aspects of the program.

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Possible Defenses in Felony DUI Cases

In Nebraska, individuals charged with felony DUIs have several potential defenses, which are grounded in the specifics of their arrest. One key defense focuses on the legality of the traffic stop. If the initial traffic stop lacked reasonable suspicion, based on specific, observable facts like erratic driving or signs of impairment, then evidence gathered subsequently, including alcohol test results, may be inadmissible in court. Another defense centers on whether the individual was actually operating or in physical control of the vehicle at the time of the arrest. This is a critical element of Nebraska’s DUI law, and if the person was not operating or in control of the vehicle, despite being intoxicated, this could form a valid defense.

Testing procedures provide another area for defense. Inaccuracies or improper administration of preliminary breath tests and evidentiary breath tests can be contested. This includes questioning whether the tests were conducted following the prescribed protocols, the calibration and maintenance of the testing devices, and the certification of the officer administering the tests. Similarly, the reliability of field sobriety tests can be challenged based on factors like the individual’s physical condition, environmental conditions, and the officer’s training and judgment in conducting these tests.

Furthermore, defenses may arise from procedural errors or medical conditions. This includes challenging the chain of custody and handling of blood samples, questioning the procedure of blood extraction, or citing medical conditions that could affect test results or mimic intoxication signs. Inaccuracies in officer reports or violations of legal rights, such as failure to read Miranda rights or advise on the implications of chemical tests, can also be significant. Additionally, defenses based on emergency or necessity may be possible.

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How Felony DUI Lawyers Help Clients Facing Charges

A DUI attorney in Nebraska plays a vital role in supporting and guiding individuals through all the major aspects of a DUI charge. They provide clear explanations of legal procedures and represent their clients in court, ensuring their rights are protected every step of the way. Attorneys in DUI cases take a close look at all the evidence, such as police reports and test results, to find any errors or inconsistencies that could help reduce the charges or even get the case dismissed.

If the evidence against the client is strong, a DUI attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially lessen the charges or reduce the sentencing. They often have at least some experience dealing with prosecutors, which is crucial in these negotiations. Lawyers also assist clients with issues related to the suspension of their driver’s license, like representing them in DMV hearings and advising on steps to regain driving privileges.

Moreover, Nebraska DUI attorneys also explore alternatives to jail time, such as probation, community service, or alcohol education programs. Each DUI case is unique, and skilled attorneys tailor their defense strategies to the individual circumstances of their clients, considering factors like past offenses and the severity of the current charge.

DUI attorneys can also provide practical advice and support to clients, helping them cope with the stress and uncertainty of the situation. They help these individuals understand how a DUI conviction might impact their personal and professional lives, assisting them in making informed decisions.

Finally, a fundamental aspect of their role is to protect their client’s constitutional rights throughout the legal process. This includes monitoring the legality of the police conduct during the arrest, the proper administration of tests, and ensuring due process in court proceedings. Any violation of these rights can be a basis for challenging the DUI charge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a felony DUI in Nebraska?

Felony DUI involves high BAC, refusals to test, serious injury, or multiple prior convictions.

Will I go to jail for a felony DUI?

Jail is likely, with minimum sentences ranging from 60 days to several years, depending on the case.

Can I fight a felony DUI in court?

Yes, defenses include challenging the traffic stop, test accuracy, and handling of evidence.

Will my license be suspended for a felony DUI in Nebraska?

License suspension is mandatory, lasting up to 15 years based on the offense.

Will I be able to drive even if my license gets suspended for a felony DUI in Nebraska?

Driving is possible with an ignition interlock device after a no-driving period.

How long will a felony DUI stay on my record?

A felony DUI usually remains permanently on the criminal record in Nebraska.

What is the fine for a felony DUI?

Fines could be $1,000-$10,000, increasing with the severity of the offense.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test for DUI?

Refusal can result in immediate license revocation and increased penalties.

Will I lose my job for a felony DUI?

Possible, especially in jobs requiring driving or clean criminal records.

Can I refuse field sobriety tests?

Refusal is possible but can lead to immediate arrest and legal consequences.

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Additional Resources

Traffic Enforcement – DUI: This resource summarizes the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office policy and procedure on DUI enforcement. Explains zero tolerance policy for those with a felony DUI record and reviews DUI enforcement policies, including training of all deputies in the detection of impaired driving, field sobriety testing and more.

Introduction to DUI Court: This article provides an introduction to the special court designed for cases of felony third or fourth offense DUI or felony third or fourth chemical test refusal. Explains that the court offers a non-traditional approach for eligible participants who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Also contains sections on the DUI Court mission, goals, eligibility, and the application process.

Nebraska Impaired Driving Strategic Plan: This article provides a review of the state’s Impaired Driving Task Force, whose mission is “to reduce and prevent impaired driving fatalities and serious crashes.” Reviews some facts and statistics on alcohol-impaired fatalities in the state and the task force’s recommendations. Also discusses the Felony Motor Vehicle Prosecution Unit in Douglas County.

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Find a Felony DUI Lawyer 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 felony DUI, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

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