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Alcohol and Drugs

How old do I have to be to drink or purchase alcohol?
You must be at least 21 years old to purchase or drink alcohol in Nevada. (NRS 202.020) Even if your parents or other adults provide or allow you to consume alcohol, Nevada law prohibits you from doing so before you are 21 years old.

What happens if I use a false ID to buy alcohol?
You can be guilty of a misdemeanor for false representation of your age. (NRS 202.040) Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 or being sent to jail for up to 6 months. ((NRS 193.120)

drug bustIs it a crime to give alcohol to someone who is under 21 years old?
Yes. You can be guilty of a misdemeanor for providing or selling alcohol to anyone under 21 years old, even if you are over 21 years old yourself. (NRS 202.055). And anyone under 21 years old can be guilty of a misdemeanor for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol. (NRS 202.020) In Sparks, it is illegal to provide liquor to a person if he or she is already intoxicated, even if that person is 21 years or older. (SMC 9.36.020)

Is it OK to drink alcohol in public or in a park?

No. Even if you are 21 years old, you cannot drink alcohol in public or in a park, unless there is a park or recreational facility permit that allows alcohol on the premises. (RMC 8.12.033; RMC 8.23.120; SMC 9.36.010)

Can I have an open beer can in my car, even if I am not drinking it?
No. You cannot have any open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, even if you are not drinking. This means that you may be arrested or cited, even if you are driving, and someone else in the car has an open container of alcohol. (NRS 484.448; RMC 6.06.320)

Buzz Driving is Drunk Driving
Police warn driving while buzzed can be as dangerous as driving when legally drunk. You've heard the ads, — “Buzz driving is drunk driving.” Many law enforcement agencies, including University Police, are taking the slogan seriously. “Just because you don’t blow a 0.08, you can still be taken to jail.”

.08 is the blood alcohol level that deems a person legally drunk. But Nevada law allows officers to take you in even if your level is below that. The law describes intoxication as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of alcohol or other substances”. Simply put, if you look like you can’t drive your vehicle or may hurt someone doing it, you could be heading to the slammer.


What happens if I am caught drinking and driving? What are the penalties for a DUI?
Nevada’s legal limit of alcohol is 0.08 for driving under the influence or DUI. (NRS 484.3795; RMC 6.06.335) Even though you may not feel intoxicated, you may still register over the legal limit after only a couple of drinks.

The first DUI is punishable as a misdemeanor. (NRS 484.3792; RMC 6.06.336) Misdemeanors are punishable up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. (NRS 193.120) The minimum penalties for a first offense are two days in jail or 48 hours of community service, a $400 fine, $70 in court cost, a $60 chemical test fee, and a DUI education course including a mandatory victim impact panel. If your blood alcohol level was 0.18 or more or if you are under the age of 21, then you will be required to have a mandatory alcohol evaluation. You will lose your driver’s license for 3 months. (NRS 484.385)

The second DUI within seven years also constitutes a misdemeanor. You will be required to pay a fine of $750, or the equivalent amount of community service hours, and serve a minimum of 10 days and up to 6 months in jail. You can lose your driver’s license for a year.

The third DUI within seven years is a felony, carrying one to six years in prison and a $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 fine. (NRS 484.3792) You can lose your driver’s license for three years.

Penalties will be more severe, including a mandatory prison term, if your drunk driving causes substantial bodily harm to another person, including injury to any passenger in your own vehicle.

Do I have to take a field sobriety test if asked to do so by the police officer?
No. You are not legally required to submit to a field sobriety test such as the walk and turn, one leg stand and horizontal gaze.

Am I required to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test?
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer or blood test because the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence, you must choose one or the other. If you refuse to take a test, then the police officer may use reasonable force to obtain a blood sample from you. (NRS. 484.382; NRS 484.383) You may also be found to be in actual physical control of a car even if it is parked and you are not actually driving. The moral of the story is to avoid any motor vehicle if you are intoxicated.

What can happen if I am arrested for possession of illegal drugs?
It is unlawful to use or possess controlled substances. It is a felony, except for marijuana (see below). (NRS 453.336; NRS 453.411; RMC 8.17.010) It is also unlawful to possess drug paraphernalia, which is a misdemeanor. (NRS 453.566; RMC 8.17.010; SMC 9.21.010)

Possession of one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor (NRS 453.336). You can be fined $600 and ordered to substance abuse treatment. Second offense is still a misdemeanor, with a $1,000.00 fine and you can be ordered to substance abuse treatment. Third offense is a gross misdemeanor. Fourth offense is a felony.

What can happen if I am arrested for selling illegal drugs?
Any possession, selling, manufacturing or transporting of a controlled substance over 4 grams is considered drug trafficking. Possession for personal use is not an exception to the law. (NRS 453.321; NRS 453.3385) You face a fine of up to $50,000 and a mandatory prison sentence between one year to life.

Is it worse if I sell illegal drugs at a school?
Yes. The prison time may be doubled for selling illegal controlled substances at schools, playgrounds, public parks or recreational facilities for minors. (NRS 453.3345)

If I use steroids to pump up my muscles, am I breaking the law?
Yes. Steroids are defined as a controlled substance. (NRS 453.146)

Are date rape drugs illegal?
Yes. You can be found guilty of two crimes for using date rape drugs on someone without their knowledge. One is using the drug to aid in the crime and the other is sexual assault. (NRS 200.408) Just using the drug in this manner is punishable for one to twenty years in prison.

Is huffing illegal?
Yes. Using any drug, chemical, poison or organic solvent to get high is a misdemeanor. (NRS 454.346)

Can I share my prescription pain medication with my friends?
No. Nevada law prohibits you from giving your prescription drug to someone else, which is a felony. (NRS 453.256) Prescription drugs are considered a controlled substance.

This guide is an introduction to narrow topics of Nevada law. Keep in mind that federal, state and local laws are constantly subject to change. If you have a legal question or problem, you should consult an attorney.