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Nevada Traffic Violations
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Traffic Violations in Nevada

Nevada traffic laws exist to ensure that law and order is maintained on public highways and private roads. Failure or refusal to follow traffic laws is what constitutes a traffic violation which may result in injuries, accidents, and other types of fatalities.

In Nevada, traffic violations can be civil or criminal. Civil traffic violations are the least serious, typically penalized by fines, community service, and other penalties that do not include imprisonment. Civil traffic violations are sometimes called infractions. These offenses do not involve injury, harm, or the risk of injury or damage to another party.

On the other hand, a criminal traffic violation typically involves injury, harm, or the risk of injury to another party. In some cases, criminal traffic violations involve property damage or even death. Consequently, criminal traffic violations are considered more severe than civil traffic violations and are penalized by heavy fines and imprisonment.

Nevada law enforcement officers often issue traffic tickets to road users who violate traffic laws. Traffic tickets, also sometimes called citations, contain vital information about the traffic offense, including the nature of the crime, the applicable fine, and available resolution options. Offenders may receive traffic tickets on the road at the scene of a traffic violation or later by email. In addition, records of their offenses may be featured in Nevada traffic records.

Persons who violate specific traffic laws, especially those involving alcohol or injury to other parties, may be arrested immediately. Recipients must respond to traffic tickets within stipulated periods to avoid additional penalties. Parties may respond by paying the ticket or contesting the ticket in traffic or criminal court.

Types of Traffic Violations in Nevada

Different classifications exist for traffic violations in Nevada and other states across the US. Apart from criminal and non-criminal/civil classifications, traffic violations can also be classified as moving and non-moving. Generally, this classification references the state of the vehicle when an offense takes place. Moving and non-moving classifications exist simultaneously with criminal and civil classifications. For example, a traffic violation can be a moving violation and a criminal offense. A traffic violation can also be a civil and non-moving traffic violation.

Moving traffic violations are offenses against the state’s transportation code that occur while a vehicle is in motion or while the perpetrator is in a moving car. Some examples of moving traffic violations in Nevada include:

  • Speeding
  • Stop sign violation
  • Illegal u-turns
  • Red light violation
  • Hit and run
  • Driving under the influence
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
  • Unsafe lane change
  • Careless driving

Non-moving traffic violations typically occur when a vehicle is stationary or when the offender is in a stationary vehicle. However, there are some exceptions; some non-moving traffic violations occur when a car is in motion. Non-moving traffic violations are considered less serious than moving traffic violations as they don’t usually involve bodily injury or harm to another party. Examples of non-moving traffic violations in Nevada include:

  • Parking in a fire lane
  • Parking in a handicap space without proper placards
  • Driving without license plates
  • Illegal vehicle modifications
  • Broken headlights
  • Parking in a no-parking zone
  • Leaving a running vehicle unattended
  • Driving without liability insurance
  • Driving while license is suspended
  • Unsafe operation

Moving traffic violations carry higher penalties than non-moving traffic violations as such offenses are more likely to cause harm or injury to another party. Additionally, moving violations result in points on an offender’s driving records, which could, in turn, lead to increased insurance premiums and driver’s license suspensions, among other penalties.

Nevada Traffic Violation Code

Chapter 484A of the Nevada Statutes contains the state’s traffic code. The act extensively outlines the definitions of traffic offenses in the state and applicable penalties. The Nevada traffic code includes guidelines for vehicle operation on state highways and private roads, vehicle registration and inspection, written requests, enforcement, and penalties for violating state or municipal traffic laws.

Nevada Felony Traffic Violations

Most states classify criminal offenses into felonies and misdemeanors, but Nevada uses a different classification system. Criminal offenses are classified as petty disorderly person offenses, disorderly person offenses, and indictable crimes. Disorderly persons are the equivalent of misdemeanors in other states, while indictable crimes are the equivalent of felony offenses in other states. Even so, some traffic violations are not classified as disorderly person offenses or indictable crimes; they are categorized as traffic offenses, even though they may carry the same penalties as other criminal offenses.

Felony traffic violations are the most severe types of criminal traffic violations. Offenses in this category are often repeated offenses or violent offenses that involve injury, bodily harm, or the risk of injury or bodily harm to another party. In Nevada, felony offenses are indictable crimes, penalized with the most expensive fines and imprisonment for at least 18 months. The Nevada Superior Court handles indictable offenses, including:

  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Repeated DWI offenses
  • Leaving the scene of a boating accident
  • Knowingly leaving an accident scene under certain conditions
  • Selling, displaying or possessing fake auto insurance ID cards
  • Forging, counterfeiting, or changing vehicle title papers

Nevada Traffic Misdemeanors

Traffic misdemeanors, known as disorderly person offenses in Nevada, are criminal offenses. They are less serious than indictable crimes and therefore carry less severe penalties. Municipal courts handle disorderly persons’ offenses. These offenses often result in an automatic suspension of the offender’s driver’s license and may result in jail terms of at most one (1) year to 18 months. Examples of disorderly persons offenses in Nevada include:

  • Knowingly or negligently defacing an official traffic sign
  • Tampering with a vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • DWI with a minor as a passenger
  • Avoiding traffic control signals
  • Reckless driving
  • Passing a school bus stopped for children and disabled persons

Nevada Traffic Infractions

Traffic infractions in Nevada are the least serious types of traffic violations. These offenses do not involve injury or harm to a third party or the risk of injury or harm. Generally, Nevada laws penalize traffic infractions with fines, community service, and in some cases, license suspension. Infractions are not considered criminal offenses and are therefore not penalized with imprisonment. Some examples of traffic infractions in Nevada include:

  • Driving without illuminating devices
  • Driving through a safety zone
  • Operating a vehicle without the owner’s permission
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages in a vehicle
  • Racing on the highway
  • Leaving a running vehicle unattended
  • Abandoning a vehicle on a public highway
  • Begging rides
  • Littering the highway
  • Obstructing other vehicles’ passage

Nevada Traffic Violation Codes and Fines

Fines that apply to traffic violations in Nevada depend on the nature and severity of the violation. A traffic infraction is non-criminal, typically penalized with fines of between $26 and $500 (NJSA 39). On the other hand, disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes are criminal offenses. Apart from imprisonment, criminal traffic violations typically also result in fines.

Disorderly persons offenses are the equivalent of misdemeanor traffic violations in other states. These offenses are punishable by fines of between $500 and $1,000. Typically, repeated offenses carry higher fines than first offenses.

Indictable crimes are categorized in four categories:

  • First-degree indictable crimes attract fines of up to $200,000
  • Second-degree indictable crimes attract fines of up to $150,000
  • Third-degree indictable crimes attract fines of up to $15,000
  • Fourth-degree indictable crimes attract fines of up to $10,000

Some traffic violations are not classified as disorderly-person offenses or indictable crimes. Fines associated with these offenses are specified in the defining state laws. An example of these offenses is driving while intoxicated (DWI). In Nevada, a DWI is classified as a traffic offense or traffic violation.

According to Chapter 484 Nevada traffic code, a first DWI offense attracts fines of between $250 and $400 if the offender’s blood alcohol level is between 0.08% and 0.10%. If the offender’s blood alcohol concentration is higher than 0.10%, the fine is between $300 and $500.

Second DWI violations attract fines of at least $500 and at most $1,000, while third and subsequent violations attract fines of at least $1,000. Other surcharges and fines may also apply to DWI offenses.

How to Pay a Traffic Violation Ticket in Nevada

Different counties or municipalities may have different processes for paying traffic tickets; however, recipients may generally pay for traffic tickets in person at the specified court on or before the date on the ticket. Traffic violation tickets contain all the information required for a recipient to respond to or resolve a ticket, including the nature of the violation, applicable fines and penalties, and the court at which the recipient may resolve the ticket.

The court accepts payments by checks, money orders, and credit cards. Some courts may allow ticket recipients to make payment over the phone; interested parties must contact the appropriate court directly to determine available payment methods.

Some traffic tickets don’t require a court appearance; recipients may pay for such tickets online using the NV Courts portal. The Nevada courts provide this service via a website that allows ticket recipients to pay parking and traffic tickets and any applicable surcharges. To pay online, recipients must have the ticket number and the court ID in some cases. Payment can be made using accepted credit cards.

Failure to pay a traffic ticket may result in additional fines and penalties, and in some cases, the court may issue a warrant for the offender’s arrest. Ticket recipients must also note that paying a traffic ticket is considered the equivalent of a guilty plea, and therefore, other penalties may apply apart from the fines.

Traffic Violation Lookup in Nevada

Persons interested in looking up traffic violation tickets or cases in Nevada may contact the Municipal, traffic, or criminal court listed on the ticket directly. The Court or County Clerk serves as the court’s record custodian and maintains information about court cases. Requesting parties must have the information necessary to identify the traffic violation record in question, such as the citation or case number. Since court records are public by law, interested parties may visit the courthouse to access traffic violation records in person at no charge. However, the court charges to produce copies of said records.

Another way to look up traffic violation cases and records in Nevada is by contacting local police departments or traffic agencies. Since law enforcement agents issue traffic tickets, interested parties may request traffic ticket information from them.

Alternatively, interested parties may look up traffic violation information online through the Nevada Courts’ online portal. Users may search using a ticket number, driver’s license number, complaint number, or the offender’s name.

How to Plead not Guilty to a Traffic Violation in Nevada

Persons interested in entering not-guilty pleas to traffic violation tickets must begin by confirming the deadline for response or entering a plea, which is usually on the ticket. Upon entering a plea, such persons may appear in court on the stated date. Interested persons may also enter a plea before the stated deadline. To do this, interested parties must contact the court indicated on the ticket before the due date to enter the plea. The court clerk will then provide a hearing date on which the defendant must be present.

The defendant may also write to the court and the prosecutor referencing their ticket number and intended plea. The prosecutor may then offer a plea bargain, which means that the defendant may receive fewer points on the driver’s license or pay fewer fines. However, the defendant can expect to pay fines and other court fees.

It is also possible to dispute eligible traffic violation tickets online in Nevada. Interested persons may use the NV courts website to dispute a ticket. Upon submitting a plea or dispute, the defendant must respond to any offers from the prosecutor within five (5) days. Failure to do so may render the traffic violation ineligible for online resolution.

Parties who choose to plead not guilty to a traffic violation in Nevada may hire attorneys for a better chance at a positive verdict. Such persons must then appear at scheduled court hearings for the case. Defendants who cannot attend court hearings in person may be represented by their attorneys. However, such persons must send a Plea by Mail stating why they cannot appear in person.

If the court delivers a positive verdict, the court drops the charges against the defendant, and such a person will not have points added to their driving records. The defendant will also not have to pay fines. However, if the court returns a guilty verdict, the defendant will be subject to all the penalties that apply to the traffic violation with which they were charged. This could include imprisonment, fines, probation, license suspension, driving record points, and mandatory driver’s education programs.

What Happens if You Plead No Contest to a Traffic Violation in Nevada

Pleading ‘no contest’ to a traffic violation in Nevada means accepting the traffic violation charge without an admission of guilt. A no-contest plea has similar consequences to a guilty plea; the offender or defendant will have to bear the penalties and fines that the law prescribes for the offense. However, a no-contest plea differs in the sense that since the defendant does not admit guilt, the admission cannot be used against the defendant in future civil or criminal actions.

Also, pleading guilty renders the offender ineligible for an appeal, while a no-contest plea allows the defendant to appeal unfavorable rulings or decisions. A no-contest plea also allows for negotiations in a traffic violation case. After entering a plea, the court sets a trial date at which the defendant and/or their attorney must be present.

How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay on Your Record?

Nevada traffic violations have indefinite lifespans. This means that traffic violations stay on an offender’s record for life. However, the points may only be active for a period. For example, insurance companies often consider a person’s three (3) to five (5) year driving history when determining insurance premiums. Even though points stay on an offender’s record indefinitely, the points may only be active for a period.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles offers ways to reduce points on an offender’s driving records. Some examples include:

  • One year of good behavior with no traffic violations or added points (three (3) points off)
  • The probationary driver program (three (3) points off)
  • A defensive driving course (two (2) points off)
  • The driver improvement program (three (3) points off)

While a defensive driving course is available to the public and can be taken once every two (2) years, the probationary driver program and the driver improvement program are only available at the invitation of the DMV.

Can Traffic Violations Be Expunged or Sealed in Nevada?

Yes, traffic violations can be expunged or sealed in Nevada. The process for doing so, however, is not always straightforward. To be eligible to have traffic violations expunged in Nevada, the offender must first complete all sentencing requirements, including any probationary period. Once the offender has completed these requirements, he or she can file a petition with the court to have the traffic violations expunged. The court will then review the petition and determine whether or not to grant it. If the court grants the petition, the traffic violations will be expunged from the offender's record. However, if the court denies the petition, the traffic violations will remain on the offender's record.

To prepare an expungement petition, the offender must first obtain a copy of his or her criminal history from the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The offender will then need to fill out the necessary paperwork and file it with the court. The court will then set a hearing date to consider the petition. In Nevada, expungement petitions should be mailed to the clerk of the court in the county where the offense occurred, or to the following address:

Clerk of the Court
Expungement Section
P.O. Box 200111
Las Vegas, NV 89101-0111

If the court grants the petition, it will issue an order that directs the Department of Public Safety to remove the traffic violations from the offender's criminal history. The traffic violations will then be sealed and unavailable to the public. However, they may still be visible to law enforcement agencies and courts.

What Happens if You Miss a Court Date for a Traffic Violation in Nevada?

Failure to appear for a traffic violation court date in Nevada can lead to serious consequences. First, the judge may enter a default judgment against the offender, which means that the offender may be found guilty and assessed applicable penalties without getting a chance to offer a defense. These penalties could include fines, court fees, probation, and driver’s license suspensions. Penalties depend on the nature or severity of the traffic violation.

Also, failure to appear in court may result in the court issuing a bench warrant for the offender’s arrest. Typically, before the court issues a bench warrant, the court issues a ‘Failure to Appear’ notice, which gives the defendant a stipulated time to comply with stated requirements. The court only issues bench warrants for parking violations if the defendant has failed to respond to two or more parking tickets. Persons who find that they may be unavoidably absent at court dates must inform the court in advance.