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Driving While…What is Illegal Under Nevada Law?

The public’s safety is paramount, and Nevada has many laws on the books to make sure that motorists give undivided attention to driving their vehicles when out on the road. To that end, there are many state and local laws that prohibit certain activities. Even when a specific activity is not prohibited by name, a more general law prohibiting careless driving will usually cover it.

Below, our Nevada car accident lawyer looks at some of the illegal activities that could earn a driver a traffic ticket.

Texting and Driving

Nevada Revised Statutes § 484B.165 makes it illegal to text or send an instant message, access the internet, or use a hand-held cell phone while driving a vehicle anywhere in the state.

It is very easy to see why Nevada passed this law. One study found that a vehicle going highway speeds traveled the length of an entire football field in the 5 seconds or so needed to send or read a text. In that amount of time, a motorist could crash into a pedestrian or another car.

The law does allow motorists to use a hands-free headset to make calls. In this situation, the device is typically mounted to the dash. A motorist may also touch the phone to activate or deactivate a feature, such as accepting a call or turning the phone off. However, the device must be hands-free while the person is talking.

There are some exceptions put in place for this law. Some of the more interesting include:

  • A person can report criminal activity, a safety hazard, or a medical emergency
  • Drivers can use a voice-operated navigation system that accesses the internet, such as a GPS system
  • Police and other emergency personnel can use the internet or a hand-held device while on the job and in the scope of employment

If a person violates the law, they are fined $50 for a first offense in 7 years. A second offense in this time period is fined $100, and a third offense is fined $350. When a person commits a violation in a work zone, the fines can double. A motorist also faces 4 demerit points, though these are not assessed for a first violation.

Eating and Driving

Who hasn’t had a burger behind the wheel? However, there are some laws that could come into play that might cover eating and driving and could result in a motorist receiving a ticket, even though there is no blanket, statewide prohibition on eating and driving specifically.

For example, Clark County Code § 14.60.190 allows an officer to give a person a ticket if they are not giving their “full time and attention” to operating their vehicles. A misdemeanor conviction can land a person in jail for up to 6 months and result in a $1,000 fine. Because this a local ordinance, it only applies within the physical boundaries of Clark County. Someone driving outside the limits is not bound by this particular ordinance.

The law makes sense and could easily apply to eating and driving. According to the DriversEd.com website, a person’s reaction time is slowed by 44% while eating. A person could also easily become distracted, such as by spilling liquid or food on themselves, which would immediately divert their attention away from the road. Also, some foods are cumbersome to eat and could cause a motorist to remove a hand from the wheel.

Other local laws prohibit careless driving, which could also cover eating behind the wheel. For example, Reno Administrative Code § 6.06.720 prohibits driving a vehicle in a careless manner that is not prudent. Some officers might determine that eating while in control of a motor vehicle falls under this section and can issue a traffic ticket.

Putting on Makeup and Driving

As with eating and driving, putting on makeup or brushing your hair as you cruise down could be illegal, and for the same reasons. No law specifically prohibits it, but the activity could impair your ability to drive carefully. As a result, you might run afoul of local ordinances and laws and pick up a ticket for that reason.

Smoking Marijuana and Driving

Everyone should know by now that drinking alcohol before driving is illegal if it impairs a person’s ability to drive safely or gives them a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. (Drivers under 21 and commercial drivers have lower limits.)
But smoking pot is also illegal in many situations. Although Nevada has recently decriminalized the recreational use of pot, this does not mean users are free to take a toke while trying to drive.

Instead, the same DUI law that criminalizes driving while impaired by alcohol also prohibits driving after consuming marijuana. NRS § 484C.110 defines a person as “under the influence” if:

  • Their blood has 2 nanograms per ml. of marijuana or 5 nanograms per ml. of marijuana metabolite
  • The substance has impaired the motorists ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner

Police can and will ask a driver to undergo a blood test to determine how much marijuana is in their system. Any refusal to comply can also carry administrative penalties.

A first-time offender faces the following for a marijuana DUI offense:

  • Time in jail, up to 6 months
  • Community service requirement
  • Up to $1000 in fines
  • A license suspension lasting 90 days
  • Stay-out-of-trouble order
  • Nevada DUI school, which the defendant must pay for

If this is a second or subsequent offense, then defendants can expect even harsher penalties to apply. With enough convictions, a person might permanently lose their ability to drive in Nevada.

Contact Our Firm if You Were Injured in a Car Accident

Naqvi Law has helped many people obtain compensation after an auto accident has left them with serious injuries. We are skilled Nevada car accident lawyers who know how to negotiate a tough settlement when a careless, distracted driver harms our clients and damages their property.

For help with your case, please contact us as soon as possible. We offer a confidential and free case evaluation.