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When is a Necessity Defense Applicable in Nevada DUI?


Most Driving Under the Influence (DUI) lawyers use defenses that aim to deny or disprove that the defendant was drunk. These defenses include faulty Breathalyzer defense, incompetent officer defense, wrongful accusation, and even the Auto-Brewery Syndrome defense. However, defenses against Nevada DUI accusations do not always have to be a denial. There is a DUI defense method called Necessity Defense, where the defendant does not deny driving drunk but instead insists that a valid emergency prompted them to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

What is Necessity Defense?

Necessity Defense is a Nevada DUI defense where the defendant will try to convince the Nevada Court that his or her act of driving while intoxicated is legal because driving had become necessary due to an emergency. However, the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) remain unclear if Necessity Defense is only applicable to drunk driving or if it also includes driving under the influence of drugs.

When can you use the Necessity Defense?

There are many kinds of emergency situations that the defendant may use as his or her excuse to drive while intoxicated. However, driving drunk is only legal and limited to the following examples of emergency:

1. No one except the drunk person is available to drive a critically ill or endangered person to medical care because 911 is unresponsive.

2. The drunk driver is fleeing someone trying to kill or injure him or her and driving is the only means of escape.

3. The drunk driver is fleeing a fire, flood, or other natural disaster and there are no other means of escape and rescuers will not be able to reach you in time.

Components of Necessity Defense

To prevent drunk driving perpetrators with proven increased BAC levels in Nevada from abusing the efficiency and convenience of the Necessity Defense in court, the Nevada court has established components when drunk driving during emergency situations mentioned above will only be considered valid. Here are the conditions:

1. Emergency hotlines such as 911 were called first but were unresponsive
2. The defendant got drunk with no intention of driving while intoxicated
3. The defendant was not the cause of the emergency
4. There were no other means of transportation except driving the defendant’s private car

Here is an example of a perfect Necessity Defense where all components are present:

An adult son was watching sports on the television at home while drinking beer with the intent of staying at home the whole night (component #2: the defendant got drunk with no intention of driving while intoxicated) and relax before going to bed. The son’s mother, who happened to be living with her adult son suddenly experiences a heart attack (component #3: the defendant was not the cause of the emergency). Knowing that driving drunk is illegal, the son attempts to call 911 but no 911 operator was responding to the call (component #1: emergency hotlines such as 911 were called first but were unresponsive). Because there was no nearby public transportation in their area or at the time and the nearest neighbor that can drive the mother to the hospital is unavailable (component #4: there were no other means of transportation), the son decided to buckle his mother in his car and drive her to the nearest hospital for immediate medical assistance.

If the defendant’s act of drunk driving out of necessity does not have any of these components, the situation would be called Imperfect Necessity Defense and the Nevada court is less likely to consider the Las Vegas DUI Lawyer’s argument valid.

Imperfect Necessity Defense in Nevada DUI

To clarify things, here are examples of Imperfect Necessity Defense situations that could make a Nevada Defense argument invalid:

1. Driving to the hospital or desired destination without calling 911 for help first. Drunk driving is dangerous, and a drunk person must be held responsible for endangering an already critically ill or injured person by driving intoxicated at emergency speed. It is a drunk person’s duty to attempt calling 911 first to ensure the safe transportation of the ill or injured person.

2. Driving to the airport to catch a flight. The Nevada court will not consider missing a plane as a valid emergency situation. Additionally, such situations have alternative means of transportation such as public transportation, use of carpooling apps, and asking ride favors from family or friends.

3. Moving a car out of a restricted parking lot. Although the drunk driver may not be responsible for parking there, getting your car towed or ticketed does not give the defendant a good image in the Nevada court.

If you or someone you know needs assistance in proving that his or her act of driving drunk is a perfect Necessity Defense argument, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Ross Goodman now.

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