Unlike in other states, first DUI offenses in Nebraska are taken very seriously and aggressively prosecuted, with convictions carrying jail time, fines, and several other consequences. Understanding the scope of DUI laws in the state is crucial for individuals who are trying to avoid arrest as well as those who are already in trouble with the law.

Continue reading to learn more about what a first DUI is, the penalties for a conviction, the possible alternatives to imprisonment, the various defenses against these charges, and why it is beneficial for those charged to seek immediate help from a Nebraska DUI lawyer.

Omaha First DUI Offense Lawyer

The criminal defense attorneys at Liberty Law Group are experienced defenders against DUI charges. Our firm will walk you through the legal process and provide the strongest defense we can.

If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for a first offense DUI, feel free to call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

First DUI Charges in Nebraska

Definition of a DUI

In Nebraska, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196. This law makes it illegal for anyone to drive or be in control of a motor vehicle under certain conditions.

  1. Firstly, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while influenced by alcohol or any drug.
  2. Secondly, the law specifies illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels: a person is considered to be driving under the influence if they have a BAC of 0.08% or more, measured either by weight of alcohol per hundred milliliters of blood, or per two hundred ten liters of breath. Simply put, if a person’s alcohol level exceeds this legal limit in their blood or breath, or if they are deemed by the police to be impaired by alcohol or drugs, they could face a DUI charge.

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Consequences of a First DUI

Fines and Jail Time

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,197.03, the consequences for a first-time DUI conviction vary based on the specifics of the offense. Generally, a first-time offender is charged with a Class W misdemeanor punishable by 0-60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The penalties also include a mandatory revocation of the driver’s license.

If the individual has no prior convictions and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.15%, their driver’s license is revoked for six months. During this period, the court requires that the offender apply for an ignition interlock permit and install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they operate. If the individual’s sentence is suspended or probation is granted by the court, the license revocation period is reduced to sixty days, but the offender must still pay a $500 fine.

If the first-time offender’s BAC was 0.15% or higher, the offense is still classified as a Class W misdemeanor; however, it is punishable by 7-60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The driver’s license is revoked for one year, and the requirements for the ignition interlock permit and device installation remain the same.

If probation or sentence suspension is granted, in addition to the year-long license revocation and ignition interlock requirements, the offender must either serve a minimum of two days in jail or complete at least 120 hours of community service, along with paying the $500 fine.

Impact on License

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-498.01 addresses the revocation of the driver’s license and the option of using an ignition interlock device or participating in the state’s 24/7 sobriety program. If someone is arrested for DUI and refuses to take a chemical test (like a breathalyzer), or if the test shows a BAC above the legal limit, the law sets in motion a series of steps. First of all, the officer will inform the person that their driver’s license is going to be confiscated and will be automatically revoked 15 days after their arrest.

The officer must report this to the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within ten days. If the person agrees to the chemical test and it shows a BAC above the legal limit, the process is similar. The officer will notify the person of the impending license revocation, and this revocation will also take effect 15 days after the arrest.

In both cases, the person is given a temporary license valid for 15 days. If they want to challenge the revocation, they must request a hearing within ten days of their arrest. This hearing is to determine if the license revocation is justified. If they don’t request a hearing, or if they lose at the hearing, their license is revoked.

Alternatively, instead of challenging the revocation, the person can apply for an ignition interlock permit or join the 24/7 sobriety program. The 24/7 sobriety program involves regular alcohol testing. Participating in either program allows them to drive during the revocation period. If the person chooses to get an ignition interlock device or join the 24/7 program, they waive their right to a hearing and accept the license revocation.

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Collateral Consequences

A first DUI offense can lead to consequences beyond legal penalties, largely due to the fact that a DUI conviction typically cannot be erased from an individual’s criminal record in Nebraska. A criminal record can adversely affect employment prospects, especially in roles that require driving, and can lead to increased difficulties in securing housing, as landlords often perform background checks.

The financial burden from fines, increased insurance rates (due to six points being added to the individual’s driver’s license for DUI), and the cost of DUI classes can be significant. Education opportunities might also be impacted, with potential disciplinary actions from colleges and universities. Further, a DUI conviction can affect professional licensing.

Probation for First Time DUI

Probation is an alternative sentence to incarceration. In Nebraska, when a person is sentenced to probation for a DUI offense, the court can impose a range of conditions to ensure that the offender leads a law-abiding life. The offender is expected to stay within the court’s jurisdiction, avoid unlawful activities, promptly report any changes in address or employment, and allow visits from a probation officer.

Alcohol Assessment

Offenders convicted of DUIs usually undergo an alcohol assessment by a licensed counselor. This assesses the extent of their alcohol dependency issues. The results of this assessment inform the judge’s sentencing decision and might include following certain recommendations. This step is essential for understanding and addressing the underlying reasons behind the offender’s DUI behavior, reducing the chance of future DUI incidents.

Ignition Interlock Devices

DUI offenders usually have to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. These devices work like breathalyzers, requiring the driver to take a breath test before the car can start. If the device detects alcohol above a set limit, the vehicle won’t start.

Mandatory Alcohol Abstinence

Courts in Nebraska may require individuals convicted of DUI offenses to abstain from alcohol completely. This condition is intended to prevent repeat offenses by keeping the individual away from alcohol, which could lead to impaired driving. Violating this requirement, like consuming alcohol, can have serious consequences, including losing the right to use the ignition interlock device.

Alcohol Monitoring Devices

To ensure compliance with the court’s orders, DUI offenders might be required to use alcohol monitoring devices. These devices continuously track and report the individual’s alcohol levels to probation authorities. They are often used in conjunction with ignition interlock devices. Not complying with this requirement can lead to the loss of driving privileges and further legal issues.

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Some Common Defenses to DUI Charges

In Nebraska, several potential defenses can be used against DUI charges. One defense concerns the legality of the traffic stop. Specifically, if the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull an individual over, such as viewing the person’s erratic driving or visible impairment, then the evidence collected, including alcohol test results, may be inadmissible in court.

Another defense is related to the operation or physical control of the vehicle, as Nebraska’s DUI law requires the individual to have been operating or in actual control of the vehicle at the time.

The accuracy and procedure of breath or blood tests are also grounds for defense. If a breath test was not administered or maintained according to protocol or the device wasn’t properly calibrated, the results can be challenged. Errors in police handling of blood samples can raise questions about the reliability of that evidence, as can deviations from standard procedures in blood extraction or testing.

Also, the reliability of Field Sobriety Tests can be contested if influenced by factors like physical condition, medical issues, or the environment.

Finally, violations of legal rights, such as Miranda rights or the right to an attorney, can affect evidence admissibility.

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Role of a DUI Attorney

A DUI attorney in Nebraska provides important support and guidance for individuals facing DUI charges, helping them go through the steps of the legal process with clarity. These lawyers play a major role in explaining the legal consequences of a DUI charge, outlining the court process, and ensuring their client’s rights are protected during legal proceedings. They scrutinize the evidence presented by the prosecution, such as police reports and test results, looking for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies that could weaken the case against their client. This can sometimes lead to reduced charges or even a dismissal.

In situations where the evidence against the client is substantial, DUI attorneys may negotiate plea deals with the prosecution, potentially leading to lighter charges or sentencing. Their expertise in Nebraska’s DUI laws and familiarity with local prosecutors can be invaluable in these negotiations. They also assist with issues related to the revocation of driving privileges, representing clients in DMV hearings, and advising on how to regain driving rights.

DUI lawyers in Nebraska also explore alternative sentencing options, such as probation, which might involve community service or participation in alcohol education and treatment programs, potentially reducing or replacing jail time. Recognizing that every DUI case is unique, they develop personalized defense strategies based on the individual circumstances of each case, including any previous offenses and personal factors that could influence the outcome.

Beyond legal representation, attorneys often offer clients practical advice, helping them deal with the stress and uncertainty that come with DUI charges. They ensure clients understand the potential impacts of a DUI conviction on their personal and professional lives, guiding them in making informed decisions. An essential aspect of their role is to ensure that their client’s constitutional rights are upheld throughout the legal process, including during the arrest, the administration of tests, and in court proceedings. Any violation of these rights can provide grounds for challenging the DUI charge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a first DUI in Nebraska?

Driving under the influence, including over 0.08% BAC or drug impairment.

What is the legal limit for drinking and driving in Nebraska?

The legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%.

Will I go to jail for my first DUI?

Possible jail time ranges from 0 to 60 days for first DUI. There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence.

Can I fight a first DUI in court?

Yes, defenses include questioning legality of stop and accuracy of tests.

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

License suspension is mandatory, ranging from 60 days to one year.

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

Driving is possible with ignition interlock permit or by joining 24/7 sobriety program.

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, DUI is the term used; DWI refers to DUI in Nebraska.

How long will a first DUI stay on my record?

A DUI conviction typically remains permanently on an individual’s record in Nebraska.

What is the fine for a DUI?

The fine for a first DUI is generally $500.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test for DUI?

Refusal is possible but leads to immediate license revocation and other penalties.

Will I lose my job for a first DUI?

Job loss depends on employer policy and job requirements, not a certainty.

Can I refuse field sobriety tests?

Refusal is possible but may lead to arrest for DUI.

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Additional Resources

Nebraska DUI laws: This article covers the general offense and particular enhancements or related charges, including consequences for a first DUI. Explains definitions under state law, including the fact that it is against the law for a person to operate or to have “actual physical control of” a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater.

Administrative License Revocation: This article reviews Nebraska DUI laws and related consequences for a first-time (or subsequent) offense of impaired driving. Explains the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process, which is separate from any criminal charges or punishments, in which the state DMV revokes a driver’s license immediately upon a first (or any) arrest for DUI.

Nebraska DUI Laws 2023 Guide : This article discusses various aspects of the laws. Includes a discussion of first offense charges and potential penalties.

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Find a First Offense DUI Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln and surrounding areas of Douglas and Lancaster Counties, Nebraska. This includes Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie, Iowa and surrounding communities. If you or a loved one has been accused of violating a protection order in Nebraska, call our office at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.

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