The state of Nebraska considers driving under the influence (DUI) a serious offense. All offenders, including those convicted for the first time, must apply for an ignition interlock device that requires them to pass a breath test before they can operate their vehicles.
Penalties for First-Time Offenders
In Nebraska, an individual’s first DUI offense is a misdemeanor. At a minimum, those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in Nebraska may:
- Spend seven days in jail
- Have their driver’s license suspended for six months
- Pay a $500 fine and
- Need to install an ignition interlock device.
The maximum penalty for a first offense is up to 60 days in jail. But jail time can be waived in certain circumstances when the court grants probation. In some jurisdictions in Nebraska house arrest is also a potential sentencing option for the judge. If the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or over while driving, the driver’s license revocation period increases to one year for a first offense.
Additionally, offenders must complete an alcohol assessment prior to being sentenced and may be ordered to attend an alcohol treatment program, which can cost $3,000 or more.
Nebraska’s New Ignition Interlock Device Laws
As of the first of this year, Nebraska gives those convicted of DUI two options: Apply for an ignition interlock device, or fight their license suspensions through the DMV and potentially appeal a DMV decision through the court system. For many offenders, this new law allows them to continue to drive to work or school while serving their sentences. Others whose careers could be destroyed by a DMV suspension opt to fight the suspension though the administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing process and appeals though the court system.
First-time offenders can apply immediately for ignition interlock devices. Those convicted of two or more DUIs or those who refuse to take a chemical alcohol concentration test, however, must complete a mandatory no-drive period before applying for the device.
When first-time offenders apply for ignition interlock devices, they waive their right to challenge the revocation of their driver’s license through an ALR hearing. When drivers suspected of DUI are pulled over, police officers are allowed to confiscate their licenses on the spot if the officer reasonably believes the driver is operating the vehicle under the influence or the driver refused to take a chemical test. The administrative review of a revocation through the DMV allows those accused of DUI to challenge allegations that they were operating a motor vehicle, or were under the influence of alcohol or refused a chemical test when they were pulled over.
DUI charges are serious. Nebraska requires all first time DUI offenders to either install an ignition interlock device or risk losing their driving privileges for at least six months depending on the outcome of the ALR hearing and /or court proceedings. The assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney is one way you can ensure your rights are protected.