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Nebraska: not a bad place to be

Oh the Midwest. We’ve landed in Nebraska this time around in this saga we call “don’t drink and drive, no really, don’t,” and you should be glad that we did. It’s just about one of the most down-to-earth and friendliest places in the nation, a place that just doesn’t bother so much with materialism and extravagance. Did a perceived sense of superiority give us the honest-to-goodness deliciousness of a genuine Omaha steak? Does a population who thinks they’re better than you produce Warren Buffet? Did a flair for fine dining lead to the invention of Kool-Aid and Reuben sandwiches? Clearly, all of these questions can be answered with a simple, “No.” (Or even a, “No, thank you,” or, “no, ma’am,” because of course Nebraska isn’t a place for bad manners.)

Hell, it’s such a nice place that you won’t even find finger-pointing in the state legislature. It’s true! Nebraska has the country’s only single-house system, and people don’t vote along party lines. Hopefully, that means that sensible laws are passed in this state – ones that reflect the best interest of all Nebraskans and their general well-being and safety. And guess what? When it comes to DUI offenses, they sorta, kinda do. While some of what you’ll read below might seem somewhat harsh, it’s important that remember what we’re talking about here: drinking and driving. Oftentimes there’s no misunderstanding involved; unfortunately, it usually starts with a mistake. All the same, there’s always room for variability within each individual case, so buckle up – get the legal help you deserve, and get it fast – and pay attention.

 

First things first: Don’t break the law

If you’re having a night out with the pals and hit that point in the evening where you start to think, “Oh shit, I drove here and I definitely can’t leave my car overnight.” Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. Once you get over that little moment of panic, it can be easy to soothe your own worries by justifying your level of drunkenness: It’ll wear off. I’ll get a cup of coffee before I leave. I’ve driven tipsy before and nothing bad happened. Unfortunately, none of this matters if you get pulled over for any reason and the officer has reason to believe you might have been drinking. This is because your blood alcohol content (your BAC) serves as a very strict indicator of whether you’re breaking the law, and if so, to what extent.

So what is against the law? In the state of Nebraska, you are breaking the law if you are driving and:

  • Your BAC is08% or higher and you are over the age of 21.
  • Your BAC is 04% or higher and you are a commercial vehicle operator.
  • You have any amount of alcohol in your system and you are under the age of 21. That’s right – NE is absolutely a zero-tolerance state for minors.

 What does this mean? It means that by the time you think you’re maybe not in the best position to drive based solely on how drunk you think you are, that moment of unacceptable insobriety might have occurred a long time ago. Our advice to you: Learn your own limits – both the ones your parents told you about in college (you know, the ones that left you sleeping in a bush if you tested them), and those that can be used against you in a court of law. No matter how friendly a place like Nebraska might seem, it is not the best place to get busted for a DUI.

 

What’s the worst that could happen?

There are some places in this great nation that administer merciful sorts of programs targeted at drunk drivers when it looks to be their first offense. After all, everyone makes mistakes…right?

Nebraska isn’t one of these places – and it’s probably for good reason. About 10 years ago, NE ranked pretty high nationwide in terms of the number of people who admitted to driving drunk, and in terms of alcohol-related accidents. In response, the state legislature extended the lookback period from 12 to 15 years, and so far, it’s worked pretty well. In other words, if you are a repeat DUI offender, a crime is considered a second (or third, etc.) offense if it has been less than 15 years since your last offense. In simplest terms: Not a lot of room for screw-ups. If you need help, get it. For a better explanation as to what sorts of consequences are associated with various sorts of DUI’s, refer to the breakdown below.

  • First offense: This is a misdemeanor offense.
    • Jail time for a minimum of seven days and for up to 60 days, at the judge’s discretion. It is possible, however, for a jail sentence to be substituted with a set amount of community service.
    • License suspension for a minimum of 90 days and up to six months. Early reinstatement of one’s license is possible (as a restricted license), but must be returned with the installation of an IID (an ignition interlock device.)
    • Fines totaling no more than $500.
  • Second offense: Also a misdemeanor.
    • Jail time for a minimum of 30 days and for up to six months. Again, jail time can be waived in favor of 120 hours of community service, at the judge’s discretion.
    • License suspension for 18 months. Again, a restricted license is possible here, but only after 45 days have passed since the initial suspension start date, and must come with the installation of an IID if approved.
    • Fines totaling no more than $1,000.
  • Third offense: Also a misdemeanor. However, this is also where some of the greatest variability in NE DUI law exists, as some of the penalties are exacerbated to the nth degree if your BAC is 0.15% or higher. To give you an idea of what this means, we’ll provide a range of penalties for certain sentencing aspects.
    • Jail time for a minimum of 90 days and for up to one full year (or between 180 days and five full years if you’re at twice the legal limit.)
    • License suspension for 2-15 years (or for a minimum of five years if you’re at twice the legal limit.)
    • Fines as high as $600 (or as high as $10,000 if…yeah, you guessed it.)
    • The mandatory installation of an IID once your license is reinstated.
    • Substance abuse evaluation, plus any recommended treatment.
    • Vehicle immobilization (and possible impoundment) for a minimum of five days (and for no longer than eight months.)

Anything past the point of third offenses is considered a felony in the state of Nebraska. However, it is important to note that a third offense in which the offender’s BAC is twice the legal limit also qualifies as a felony! As you can probably guess, felony DUI’s are no fun at all to deal with as they often involve lengthy prison stints and are associated with all sorts of rights lost as an ordinary citizen, from the right to vote to your ability to make it through the screening process as a new job applicant. No matter the severity of your DUI offense, you do not want it to get to this point – so do yourself a favor. Hire a lawyer! And if you think you need it, enroll in some sort of substance abuse counseling as well.

 

Caught drinking and driving in Nebraska? Never fear! BernieSez is here

If at any point you find yourself in the throes of the legal system on account of a few mishandled alcoholic beverages, fear not. Learn your lesson, but learn the best ways to navigate legal matters as well. Having a reputable lawyer on your side can be very helpful in determining your best possible outcomes and in negotiating the sorts of punishments that may harm your way of life in the worst possible ways. Post your questions to BernieSez today, where thousands of experienced attorneys can view them and offer you consultations – because you don’t have to do it alone.