An Overview of the Traffic Violations in Nevada
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of accidental injuries and accidental fatalities in our region. Unfortunately, our roads are becoming less safe. A recent report from the Las Vegas Review Journal noted that Nevada saw the highest number of catastrophic and fatal accidents in 2021 in 14 years. Human error has long been cited as a leading cause of crashes.
In a study of crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that unsafe driving is a factor 90 to 96 percent of car accidents. All drivers in Las Vegas need to understand how our state classifies traffic violations. In this article, you will find a comprehensive guide to the most important things to know about traffic offenses in Nevada.
Understanding the Different Types of Traffic Violations in Nevada
- Category #1: Traffic Infractions in Nevada
You may be wondering: Are traffic violations a crime? The answer depends on the specific nature of the traffic offense. That being said, most traffic violations are classified as “infractions” instead of criminal offenses. Indeed, the vast majority of traffic violations in Nevada are not criminal offenses. They are civil infractions. Of course, this does not mean that they should not be taken seriously. Quite the contrary, a civil traffic offense in Nevada can result in a fine and— depending on a driver’s history of previous violations— potentially even the suspension of their license. Some of the most common non-criminal traffic infractions in Nevada include:
- Speeding: One of the most common questions that people have: Is a speeding ticket a misdemeanor? In Nevada, the answer is ‘no’—not any longer. In July of 2021, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill decriminalizing most traffic offenses, including most types of speeding offenses. While speeding is dangerous, it is generally punishable by a maximum $500 fine in Nevada. However, under NRS 484B.600, there is an exception for drivers going more than 30 miles per hour above the speed limit. Extreme speeding could result in an arrest and a misdemeanor charge.
- Unsafe Lane Change or Failure to Signal: Unsafe lane changes are a frequent cause of multi-vehicle collisions on busy roads in Las Vegas. Drivers in Nevada have a legal responsibility to ensure that the lane they want to merge into is clear, signal, and then re-confirm that the lane is still clear. Failure to signal or otherwise making an unsafe lane change is a civil traffic infraction.
- Running a Red Light/Stop Sign: A motorist can also be cited for a civil traffic violation if they fail to come to a complete halt at a stop sign or if they run through a red light. Running red lights and running stop signs can result in very serious crashes. It is a form of negligence that can be cited as a civil traffic infraction.
- Failure to Wear a Seat Belt: Nevada has a seat belt law on the books. All drivers and passengers in Nevada are required to wear a safety belt whenever on public roads. The failure to do so could result in a civil infraction. Under NRS 484D.495, this violation is typically a $25 offense. However, if a child’s car seat is not properly secured, a motorist could face a far more severe $500 fine.
- Category #2: Criminal Traffic Offenses in Nevada
For more serious traffic offenses, a driver can be charged with a crime. Criminal traffic offenses fit into two broad categories: Misdemeanor criminal charges and felony criminal charges. While misdemeanors are the less severe type of criminal charge, all misdemeanor traffic offenses in Nevada can lead to jail time. The most serious type of criminal traffic violations are charged as felony criminal offenses. In Nevada, all felonies carry a minimum sentence of one year in state prison. Some can carry significantly harsher penalties than that. Some of the most common types of criminal traffic charges in Las Vegas include:
- Reckless Driving: In Nevada, a motorist can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense for reckless driving. As defined under NRS 484B.653, reckless driving in Nevada is the operation of a motor vehicle with the wanton disregard for the health, safety, and well-being of others. Some examples of reckless driving include extreme speeding, street racing, and swerving in and out of lanes.
- Hit-and-Run: Nevada law is clear: All motorists have a duty to stop their vehicle, exchange information, and remain at the scene of an accident but for medical emergencies. Failure to do so is considered to be a hit-and-run. Under Nevada law, a hit-and-run is a criminal offense. A hit-and-run is a misdemeanor as a base-level offense. However, if someone is seriously injured in the crash, a hit-and-run can be charged as a felony.
- Intoxicated Driving: Drunk driving and drugged driving are the most common types of criminal traffic charges in Nevada. As DUI accidents remain a serious public health concern, state and local authorities are stepping up enforcement of intoxicated driving laws. A DUI charge in Nevada is usually a misdemeanor offense. However, a DUI can be charged as a felony criminal offense if certain aggravating factors are present.
What to Know if You are Involved in a Car Crash Caused By a Traffic Violation
Most multi-vehicle collisions are caused by human error. While it certainly does not happen in every case, it is not uncommon for one or more of the drivers in a crash to be cited for a traffic violation. It could be a traffic infraction (a ticket) or even a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge. Here is what you need to know about your rights if you were hurt in a crash caused by a traffic violation:
- Another Driver Violates Traffic Laws: Nevada is a fault-based car accident state. In effect, this means that the party deemed responsible for causing an accident through their negligence will be held liable for the damages. By definition, traffic violations are negligence. A driver cited for a traffic infraction or arrested on a criminal traffic offense can be held legally responsible for a crash.
- Your Violation Partially Contributed to Your Own Crash: You may still be entitled to financial compensation even if your own traffic violation was a factor in the accident. Under Nevada law (NRS 41.141), car accident claims are subject to a comparative fault standard. Each party is responsible for their “share” of the blame. As long as your traffic offense was responsible for less than 51 percent of the accident, you may be able to recover through a personal injury claim.
Ultimately, every auto accident claim is unique. As liability is always apportioned based on the specific circumstances of the crash at hand, a serious collision must be thoroughly investigated. To protect your rights and your interests, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash caused by a traffic violation.
Call Our Las Vegas Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Naqvi Injury Law, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers handle the full range of motor vehicle accident claims, including those caused by traffic violations. Our firm helps clients get justice. If you have questions about your rights or your options, we are here as a legal resource. Give us a call or contact our team online to set up a no cost, no obligation initial consultation. We represent injured victims in Las Vegas, Clark County, and throughout the surrounding region in Southern Nevada.