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What happens when you get a DUI in Nebraska?

Here's what you need to know...
  • A DUI in Nebraska will lead to fines, imprisonment and suspension of driving privileges
  • Additional violations carry stiffer penalties
  • SR-22 liability insurance is required to reinstate a suspended license

The charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can carry stiff punishment in Nebraska. These laws contain stiff penalties intended to deter driving while intoxicated and can cost anyone convicted of DUI their money, freedom, and driver’s license.

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DUI Laws in Nebraska

 

To determine if a driver is intoxicated law enforcement officers will test a driver’s blood alcohol concentration level. The BAC indicates the concentration of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream.

It is generally expressed as the weight of the alcohol compared to a fixed amount of blood and depends on the quantity of alcohol consumed, the rate of absorption, and the metabolism of the driver.

The BAC level is measured in percentages with a higher BAC score meaning a higher level of intoxication. The maximum legal level for a driver depends on their age and if they are a commercial driver.

In Nebraska, the legal limit for drivers over 21 years of age is anything under a BAC of .08 percent. The number of drinks or a driver’s ability to drive is irrelevant. Any BAC of .08 percent or higher is considered intoxicated and will lead to a DUI charge.

The limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .02 percent. Drivers under the age of 21 cannot consume alcohol legally. Because of this, there is even less tolerance of driving under the influence.

The limit is lower for commercial vehicle drivers as well. Drivers of commercial vehicles are given a higher duty of care given the dangerous nature of the job. A commercial driver is considered intoxicated with a BAC level of .04 percent or higher.

— Driving With an Open Container of Alcohol

Nebraska also has an Open Container Law meaning that no opened containers of alcohol are permitted in vehicles driving on public roads. This rule has some exceptions including passengers in a licensed limousine or vehicles parked on private property.

— Breathalyzer tests

AdobeStock_51711988-1600x1600There is very specific testing that must be done to obtain a BAC level from a defendant. The most common method for testing the level of a driver’s BAC is known as a breathalyzer test. These tests are conducted by the defending blowing into the machine.

The machine then detects the level of alcohol on a driver’s breath and is able to extrapolate the BAC level for the driver.

A breathalyzer test in Nebraska is not optional thanks to ”implied consent” laws.

Under the theory of implied consent, driving on public roads in Nebraska is a privilege instead of a right and any driver impliedly gives their consent for a blood, breath, or urine test if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe they’re intoxicated.

Courts have held that a breathalyzer test must be given within a reasonable time from the point of the arrest so that the test accurately reflects the BAC level of the driver at the time the vehicle was being operated.

While law enforcement cannot force a driver to take a test there are separate penalties for drivers refusing the test. Each refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

DUI Penalties in Nebraska

There are two different types of penalties for a DUI conviction. Criminal penalties are handed down by a court of law and include fines and incarceration. Administrative penalties are a form of civil penalty that applies to a driver’s license.

Both types of penalties for DUI in Nebraska increase with each additional violation. Nebraska law has a “look back” period of 15 years, meaning when counting prior convictions any older than 15 years are not considered.

  • First Offense – A first offense DUI comes with a minimum 90-day driver’s license suspension. Offenders with a BAC registering .15 or more can face up to a yearlong suspension. A first offense also includes a sentence of 7-60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
  • Second Offense – A second offense comes with a one-year driver’s license suspension. A two-time offender will also face a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of between 30 days and 1 year in jail.
  • Third Offense – A third offense comes with a driver’s license suspension between 2 and 15 years long. An offender also faces fines of up to $10,000 and a sentence of between 90 days and 1 year in jail.

Habitual offenders are drivers that accumulate 4 or more DUIs and the potential penalties are steep.

A fourth offense is a Class III Misdemeanor and comes with a 15-year license suspension, up to $25,000 in fines, and a sentence between 180 days and 5 years in jail.

A fifth or subsequent DUI is a felony in Nebraska and each conviction can include a 15-year license suspension, up to $25,000 in fines, and a sentence of 1 to 20 years in prison.

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Points System

Mandatory suspensions for DUI convictions and refusal to take a breathalyzer aren’t the only way a DUI can affect your driver’s license. Nebraska uses a points system where a driver’s license is suspended once they accumulate a certain number of points.

Drivers that accumulate 12 or more points over the span of two years will have their license suspended.

Points are assigned to each possible traffic offense with vehicular homicide or a third or subsequent DUI worth 12 points, a first or second DUI worth six, and minor traffic violations being worth one point each.

Any combination of points that adds up to 12 or more over a 2-year period will lead to action being taken on a driver’s license.

Driver’s License Revocation and Suspension

AdobeStock_51451748-1600x1600It’s possible for a driver to have their license either suspended or revoked. A driver’s license suspension is potentially temporary. It doesn’t eliminate the license altogether and there are steps that can be taken to reinstate the license.

A revocation means a license is effectively eliminated. There is no way to regain a revoked license. A driver with a revoked license will have to restart the process of obtaining a license again completely including any driver tests and fees that go with first-time drivers obtaining a license.

Once the length of a suspension has ended Nebraska has a process for reinstating suspended licenses.

The first step is to provide proof that any judicial holds on your license are gone. A court will be able to provide documentation that length of your suspension has ended and all of your fines have been paid.

It’s also possible a court may order a driver to complete courses related to safe driving or alcohol before reinstatement is available. The next step is to prove you have adequate insurance coverage.

In the case of most suspensions in Nebraska, a driver must file SR-22 paperwork with the state indicating they are in fact insured. The SR-22 form is provided by an insurer and must be filed with the state to lift a suspension.

Finally, there may be costs and fees associated with reinstatement that a driver must pay.

DUI Precautions

There are limited circumstances in which a driver can continue to drive during a suspension. For non-DUI suspensions, a court can give a restricted license based on hardships to allow a driver to drive to and from school or work.

Additionally, during the course of a DUI suspension, it’s possible a driver will be allowed to continue driving with an interlock device.

An interlock device prevents a driver from starting a vehicle without first blowing into it.

The vehicle will only start if the device registers no alcohol content on a driver’s breath. Interlock devices are available in most DUI cases at the discretion of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Department will not allow interlock devices for any driver that doesn’t waive their right to a hearing regarding their license suspension so drivers have to choose between the chances of an interlock and fighting their suspension at a hearing.

If a restricted license and interlock device is approved the driver must pay a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles to have the device installed.

Insuring a DUI offender

Dollarphotoclub_82337319-1600x1600A driver’s record can play a major role in determining what insurance coverage is available. A DUI is an indicator that a driver is high-risk, which will scare off some potential insurers.

A driver with a DUI conviction will need to focus on insurance carriers willing to insure high-risk drivers and accept that premiums will probably be higher than what they’re used to. The best practice is to search for insurers that specifically cover high-risk drivers.

These policies can be expensive and their level of coverage may vary so it’s important to compare 3-4 different insurance policies before making a purchase. While a DUI conviction will increase insurance premiums there are a number of ways to lower them.

Installing safety features in a car can often bring premiums down. This can include anti-theft devices, additional airbags, and anti-lock brakes.

While this option can be more costly on the front end insurers will often take these safety features into consideration.

Another option is to keep the mileage down. It’s not always feasible for a driver to limit the miles that are put onto a vehicle but some insurers give discounts for low mileage.

Finally, insurance companies keep up with a driver’s record. As time passes and DUI’s or other traffic offenses roll off a driving record an insurer may lower the premiums. Good driving behavior is the best way to ensure insurance costs go down.

Driving Again After a DUI in Nebraska

A DUI conviction can be problematic for any driver but it is an obstacle that can be overcome. By complying with the orders of the court and obtaining liability insurance a driver will be able to take the necessary steps to reinstate their license.

Obtaining adequate liability insurance after a DUI is made easier by seeking out insurers that specifically cover high-risk drivers. Comparing 3-4 of those policies is the best way for a driver to obtain the insurance coverage that will get them back on the road and protect them in their travels.

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