Nebraska’s DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

The consequences of a misdemeanor or felony DUI conviction in Nebraska.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Nebraska. However, as in all states, the way Nebraska defines DUI is crucial to understanding what constitutes a violation.

This article explains when a driver can be convicted of DUI in Nebraska and what penalties follow a conviction.

Nebraska's DUI Laws

To prove a DUI charge in court, prosecutors generally must show the defendant was:

  • operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, and
  • under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, some clarification on these terms is necessary and provided below.

"Operating" or Being in "Actual Physical Control" of a Vehicle in Nebraska

Most DUI cases that involve a traffic infraction such as speeding or a collision. In these cases, it's pretty clear the motorist was operating a vehicle. But Nebraska also makes it illegal to be in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while under the influence, which encompasses far more than just driving.

Under Nebraska law, actual physical control is the ability to exert control over a vehicle so that it can be engaged and moved with very little effort or delay. For example, a person sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition and lights on is considered to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. Simply put, a Nebraska DUI does not require a moving vehicle.

How Nebraska's DUI Laws Define "Under the Influence"

A prosecutor can prove a DUI by either proving actual impairment or an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

DUI Offenses Based on Actual Impairment

A driver is considered to be under the influence if the ingestion of alcohol or drugs causes—to an appreciable degree—an impairment to the driver's ability to prudently and cautiously operate a vehicle.

Of course, impairment can be caused by many things, including street drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications. Holding a physician's prescription is not a defense to an impaired driving charge.

Per se DUI Offenses

A driver can also be convicted of a DUI if he or she has a BAC of at least .08%. The amount of alcohol that results in an unlawful BAC varies among different people. Lots of factors such as size and gender come into play. To establish a per se DUI charge, prosecutors don't need to prove unsafe driving or lack of coordination—just a BAC that's over the legal limit.

Penalties for a Misdemeanor DUI Conviction in Nebraska

The penalties for a DUI are set by statute and generally depend on the number of prior offenses the driver has. Only DUI convictions within the last 15 years are considered. A first-, second-, and third-offense DUI is generally misdemeanor crimes.

Jail Time and Fines for Nebraska Misdemeanor DUI Convictions

Here are the possible fines and jail time for a first, second, or third DUI conviction.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

7 to 60 days

30 days to 6 months

90 days to 1 year

Fines

$500

$500

$1.000

Nebraska DUI Probation

In most cases, the judge will "stay" the jail sentence and instead place the offender on supervised probation. During probation, the offender must comply with all court requirements which often include monitored sobriety, treatment, and community service

Offenders with prior DUI convictions must serve a few days in jail before beginning probation. A second offense requires at least ten days in jail or 240 hours of community service and a third offense DUI requires at least 30 days in jail prior to probationary release.

Nebraska's 24/7 Sobriety Program

Some jurisdictions also offer a 24/7 sobriety program as an alternative to jail. The program requires constant monitoring of sobriety and location via a monitoring bracelet and any violations (positive tests) can result in jail and other penalties. However, participants are able to continue with employment and other activities under the program and may even be able to reduce certain driver's license penalties.

Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment for Nebraska DUI Offenders

Prior to DUI sentencing, the convicted person must complete a substance abuse evaluation to determine the extent or presence of any addictions or dependencies. The judge will review the assessment results and can order the offender to participate in education, therapy, or treatment programs.

Nebraska's Aggravated DUI Law

Drivers who had a BAC of at least .15% or who refused chemical testing (explained below) often face increased penalties for a DUI conviction. For a third offense, these aggravating factors can even elevate a DUI to a felony.

Nebraska's Felony DUI Penalties

While a DUI is generally a misdemeanor, felony charges can result based on the number of prior offenses, the driver's impairment level (explained above), or causing injuries to another person.

Nebraska's DUI Habitual Violator Law

A fourth DUI offense is a class 3A felony. The offender will face 180 days to three years in prison, $2,000 to $10,000 in fines, and a 15-year license revocation. Offenders who receive probation must serve at least 90 days in jail and complete 90 days with a sobriety monitoring device.

DUIs Involving Injuries

An impaired driver who causes serious bodily injury to another person can be charged with a class 3A felony. The driver will face up to three years in prison, a maximum $10,000 in fines, and a license revocation of 60 days to 15 years.

License-Related Penalties for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI Offense in Nebraska

A DUI arrest will often lead to license-related penalties. The suspension duration depends on the driver's BAC and level of cooperation with testing. All convictions and DUI-related suspensions within the last 15 years are counted for purposes of determining the consequences of an offense.

License-related penalties can result from a DUI arrest and/or conviction.

Nebraska's Implied Consent Law

During a DUI investigation, the officer will generally request the driver to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Drivers who refuse to complete the test or fail a test with a BAC of .08% or more will face license suspension.

Test Refusal License Suspension

A driver who refuses to submit to a lawful request for a breath, blood, or urine test will lose his or her driving privileges. The officer will seize the driver's license and submit a report to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Upon receipt of the report, the DMV will revoke the driver's license for one year.

License Suspension for Test Failure

A driver who submits to testing and produces a BAC of at least .08% will be suspended for 180 days (one year for repeat offenses). Any suspension served for a test failure will be credited towards a suspension for a DUI conviction.

License Suspension for Nebraska DUI Convictions

Convicted drivers will also face license suspension as part of the penalties for the conviction. Convicted drivers face the following penalties:

  • First offenders. A first-offense DUI results in a six-month license revocation but can be reduced to 60 days with a grant of probation. A driver with a BAC of .15% or more will be revoked for one year.
  • Second offenders. A second-offense DUI carries an 18-month license revocation. A driver with a BAC of .15% or more can be revoked for up to 15 years.
  • Third offenders. A third offense DUI generally results in a 15-year license revocation, but the offender can reinstate after two years and successfully completing probation.

A driver acquitted at the criminal trial may also have the test failure suspension waived.

Nebraska's Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Requirements

Drivers who have lost driving privileges due to a DUI violation are generally eligible to apply for restricted privileges. And drivers convicted of a DUI are often required by the court to apply and participate.

A restricted license allows the offender to drive but only with an installed ignition interlock device (IID). Successful participation in the IID program can allow for early license reinstatement.

Persons with prior DUI convictions must complete 45 days of the suspension prior to applying for a restricted license. Drivers that refused chemical testing are not eligible for restricted privileges for at least 90 days.

Nebraska's Underage DUI Law

Drivers under 21 years old are prohibited from having a BAC of .02% or more. A violation will result in a 30-day license suspension and a traffic fine. An underage driver who refuses a lawful chemical test required under the implied consent law will be revoked for 90 days.

An underage driver with a BAC of at least .08% or who is under the influence can instead be charged with a standard DUI.

Diversion Agreements for Drivers Charged with a DUI in Nebraska

The penalties for a DUI in Nebraska are serious, but persons facing DUI charges often have options for reducing at least some of the penalties. Plea negotiations, diversion agreements, and participating in a 24/7 sobriety program can all be good options. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, talk to a qualified DUI lawyer about the possibilities.

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