What does Senate Bill 245 really mean for you as a driver in Nevada?
What is Senate Bill 245?
- In simple terms, it's an update to the Hit & Run laws and the DUI laws in Nevada that created significant penalties to people who drink and drive and/or leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident
When did it take effect?
- October 1, 2015
This law has been in effect for a while now, but it's one of those things that most people don't think about too often, so I'd like to take a moment and explain it.
Under the old Nevada laws, there was a small loophole. Let's say that Mr. Smith goes out and has a few drinks and then decides to drive home. While on the way home he gets into a car accident and is terrified of getting arrested for a DUI. In a panic, Mr. Smith looks around and sees a bar just across the street. He runs across the street, runs into the bar and orders a double shot of bourbon and slams it down. A few moments later, the police arrive inside the bar looking for Mr. Smith. Once they begin to question him, Mr. Smith states that he was involved in the accident and was so stressed out by it that he ran over here and had to have a drink. This is where he jumped through the old loophole - the police now can't prove if Mr. Smith was or was not drunk at the time of the accident. There's no legal way to tell the difference between the alcohol that was in his system while he was driving and the alcohol he just drank right now. The most they can do is cite him appropriately if the accident was his fault and potentially give him a misdemeanor citation for "leaving the scene of an accident", but, under these circumstances, he could never be successfully prosecuted for a DUI.
"Why didn't I ever think of that?"
Senate Bill 245 has closed that loophole.
Under the same set of circumstances, Mr. Smith is now looking at a non-probationable, mandatory sentence of between 2 to 20 years in a Nevada State Prison. What does non-probationable mean? It means that the prison sentence imposed may not be suspended nor may probation be granted to the person!
So now you're thinking "I don't ever drink and drive, this doesn't matter to me!".
Oh, but it does. The second portion of the bill says:
"The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident on a highway or on premises to which the public has access resulting in bodily injury to or the death of a person shall immediately stop his vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to and in every even shall remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of NRS 484E.030."You'll notice some interesting language contained in that paragraph. Look closely and you'll notice that there is nothing in there about driving under the influence. Also worth noting is this part: "...resulting in bodily injury..." notice that it doesn't say serious bodily injury. It just says bodily injury. So let's look at the following hypothetical scenario:
Mr. Smith is driving home from work, as sober as any teetotaler ever was, and is involved in a moderate vehicle accident. It doesn't matter if he was the one who caused the accident or not. Now, let's say that Mr. Smith decides, for one reason or another, that he needs to leave the scene. If anyone else who was involved in that accident is injured in any way Mr. Smith now faces 2-20 years of mandatory prison time!
- Don't drink and drive.
- Never, EVER leave the scene of a vehicle accident that you're involved in!