NEVADA SUPREME COURT DMV DECISIONS

The following is a summary of all published DMV decisions in Nevada that are still good law.  This is to be used for general information and is not a substitute for full case review by an attorney.  All cases have been reviewed and summarized by Attorney Cristina Hinds.  

In State DMV v. Taylor-Caldwelln, 229 P.3d 471 (Nev. 2010), the driver was arrested upon suspicion of DUI.  The driver submitted to two consecutive breath tests pursuant to NRS 484.386(1).  One test was under the legal limit of .08 and measured .073.  The second test was over the .08 legal limit and measured .083.  The DMV suspended the driver’s privileges. 
On appeal, the driver argued that two tests, with both results being over .08, were required to suspend driving privileges. 

Held:   The Court found that although two tests were required to be taken, only one needed to measure over the legal limit of .08.

In  State, DMV v. Terracin, 125 Nev. 4, 199 P.3d 835 (2009), the drivers had their driving privileges revoked for 90 days after being convicted of first offense DUI.  Both drivers had first offense DUI convictions.  Within 7 years, they both were arrested for second offense DUIs.  Both second offense charges were ultimately reduced to first offense DUI convictions as part of negotiation.  Despite the fact that both persons were convicted of first offense DUI, the DMV suspended both driving privileges for 1 year pursuant to NRS 484.360.

Held:    The Nevada Supreme Court held that the 1 year suspension was improper.  As the drivers were convicted of first offense DUIs, their driving privileges should have been suspended for 90 days.

In State v. Lomas, 114 Nev. 313, 955 P.2d 678 (1998), the driver was charged with DUI and other offenses arising from a car accident.  The DMV suspended his driving privileges.  He thereafter filed for dismissal of the criminal charges arguing that he was prevented from being prosecuted because of state and federal double jeopardy protections. 
           
Double jeopardy protects against three things: (1) a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, and (3) multiple punishments for the same offense. It does not, however protect against the imposition of an additional sanction that could be described as punishment.

Held:   The Nevada Supreme Court held that the DMV’s suspension of driving privileges did not prevent a subsequent criminal prosecution.

In DMV v. Binder, 109 Nev. 945, 860 P.2d 163 (1993), driver’s privileges were suspended for 3 years under NRS 483.460 based upon 3 DUI convictions within 7 years.  Driver challenged the suspension, arguing that one conviction failed to specify his VIN number, and another conviction failed to include his driver’s license number.

Held:  Imperfect record keeping by the DMV will not prevent the DMV from removing driving privileges.    

In DMV v. Frangul, 110 Nev. 46, 867 P.2d 397 (1994), the driver’s driving privileges were suspended for a 90 day period following a DUI arrest.  He challenged the suspension with the DMV who  upheld the suspension. 

In the meantime, the accompanying criminal charges were dismissed.  Driver then filed to have his criminal record sealed under NRS 179.255 and obtained an order sealing the records. 

Driver argued that the order sealing his record should operate to nullify the license suspension because the effect of a sealed record is that  “all proceedings are deemed never to have occurred.”  NRS 179.255.

Held:    A DMV suspension is not related to the criminal arrest; therefore, the sealing of a criminal record has no effect on a DMV suspension.  The DMV properly suspended the privilege to drive.                    
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In State v. Madrigal, 110 Nev. 1005, 879 P.2d 746, (1994),  the driver’s driving privileges were suspended for one year under NRS 484.379 for having two DUI convictions within 7 years.  He challenged the suspension and argued that the DMV improperly admitted his two prior convictions.  He claimed that they were admitted in error because they were not shown to be true and correct copies on file with the court.  

Held:    There is no requirement that a conviction needs to be a true and correct copy on file with the court.  NRS 483.460(1)(b)(5) only requires that the DMV review a record of the conviction.

In State, DMV v. Evans, 114 Nev. 41, 952 P.2d 958 (1998), driver was pulled over by Officer Sage due to “erratic driving.”  Officer Lang responded to the scene shortly thereafter, performed one field sobriety test and arrested driver when he refused additional testing.     

Driver requested a DMV hearing to challenge his license suspension.  Officer Sage did not appear at the hearing.  Officer Lang testified that driver was pulled over by Officer Sage for “erratic driving.”  Driver’s attorney objected to Officer Lang testifying about Officer Sage’s statements: (1) on the basis of hearsay; and (2) their use to show that driver was driving.

Held:  The driver was not denied the right to confront and cross examine the witnesses when Officer Lang’s hearsay statements were admitted.  Further, DMV is not required to prove that someone was actually driving.  Rather, it is only required to show that an officer had reasonable grounds to believe that a driver had been driving while under the influence of alcohol.                        

In State, DMV v. Hafen, 108 Nev. 1011, 842 P.2d 725 (1992), the driver was a juvenile when he was “convicted” of a first offense DUI.  He received a subsequent conviction after he was 18 years old but within 7 years from the first “conviction.”  The DMV thereafter suspended his driving privileges for one year for having 2 convictions within a 7 year period under NRS 483.460.  Driver challenged the 1 year suspension and argued that because he was a juvenile, the first offense could not considered a conviction.  

Held:   Driver’s first case was not a conviction because he was a juvenile.  See, NRS 62.216.  It was improper to suspend his privilege for 1 year.  The correct amount of time should have been for 90 days.

In DMV v. Bremer, 113 Nev. 942, 944 P.2d 784, (1997), the Court held that a chemist’s affidavit testifying about levels of alcohol in breath is admissible without any proof that the breath machine was properly calibrated.

In DMV v. Paul, the DMV suspended driver’s driving privileges for having 3 DUI violations within 7 years under NRS 483.460. Driver argued this was improper because he did not actually sustain 3 convictions within 7 years.

Held: NRS 484.379 allows suspension of driving privileges based on the date of violation. The suspension was proper because the violations occurred within 7 years. The date of conviction is irrelevant.

In DMV v. Ortega, 107 Nev. 853, 821 P.2d 352 (1991), driver plead guilty to DUI in municipal court on November 13, 1989.  The clerk transmitted the conviction to the DMV on December 12, 1989.  DMV then sent driver a notice of suspension.  Driver argued that the DMV should not be able to proceed with his license suspension because the clerk failed to timely send his conviction to the DMV.

Held:   The DMV has a duty to suspend driving privileges of anyone convicted of a DUI under NRS 483.460.  It would be too burdensome to make the DMV dependent upon timely receipt of information from court staff.

In State v. Rowland, 107 Nev. 475, 814 P.2d 80 (1991), the driver lost his driving privileges are argued that:
(1) the breath operator did not follow and complete the checklist as required by the committee on testing for intoxication;
(2) the evidence presented as to the breath operator's certification was in conflict;
(3) there was a lack of substantial evidence to show that petitioner’s  blood alcohol was a .10 or more percent by weight of alcohol because of the error factor in the breath testing;
(4) the petitioner was not given the opportunity to compare the originals with copies that were presented as evidence in violation of NRS 233B.123(2); and
(5) there was no evidence presented that the breath machine was maintained as required by the regulations which have been adopted by the committee for testing on intoxication (see NRS 484.398(4)) NRS 484.389(4).

The Court held:

  • Any omission on a checked box was immaterial. 
  • It was irrelevant that the officer provided two different dates to show he was certified to operate the machine.  There was no evidence to show he was not certified on the date in question.
  • The legislature was not concerned about the margin of error in testing.  The law states .10.
  • If driver had questions about the authenticity of the copies, he should have arranged to have the copies compared to the originals in Carson City.
  • Driver failed to show that the machine was not operating properly or that he attempted to inspect the machine.








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