The Nevada crime of evading a traffic stop under NRS 484B.550 occurs when a driver intentionally keeps driving after a police vehicle signals for it to pull over. In order to initiate a traffic stop, the police vehicle must both flash its red light and sound its siren. The offense is also called "eluding the police."
The penalties for evading police depend on the seriousness of the circumstances and if any harm was done:
Evading a traffic stop in Nevada
Penalties under NRS 484B.550
The incident involved no DUI, dangerous driving, property damage, injury, or death
The defendant was committing the Nevada crime of driving under the influence (DUI)
The defendant was driving dangerously or caused damage to another's property
The defendant caused a fatality or substantial bodily harm in Nevada to someone else
Category B felony:
It may be possible to get an eluding charge reduced or dismissed through a Nevada plea bargain. Possible defenses include:
- The police did not give the proper signal to pull over;
- The defendant did not intentionally fail to stop the car; or
- Conditions were unsafe for the defendant to pull over
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada laws for evading police. Click on a topic below to jump directly to that section.
- 1. Legal definition
- 2. Fighting charges
- 3. Penalties
- 4. Immigration consequences
- 5. Sealing records
- 6. Related offenses
Nevada's legal definition of evading a traffic stop is when a driver:
"willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop ... when [police give a] signal to bring the vehicle to a stop by a flashing red lamp and siren." (NRS 484B.550)1
In other words, it is illegal to deliberately continue driving once the police have signaled for a driver to pull over by both:
- flashing red light, and
- sounding a siren.
Once a driver becomes aware that a police car is signaling it to stop, the driver should pull over to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
Example: John is driving with a broken tail light. An officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sees him and signals for John to pull over by sounding its siren and flashing its red lamp. John wants to hear the end of the song he is listening to on the radio, so he waits until it is over before pulling over.
Even though John was planning to stop for the police eventually, he could still be charged with evasion for unnecessarily delaying pulling over.
Another common evasion scenario occurs when the driver speeds up or changes course in an attempt to elude police completely. This could lead to a police chase with the Nevada Highway Patrol and serious damages that the defendant would be liable for.
The following are three common defenses to evasion. An attorney may use them to try to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charges or else reduce them to something more minor:
- Wrong signal. The official signal that Nevada police must use to initiate a traffic stop is a flashing red light and a siren. Therefore if the police used the wrong signal or if their signal was broken, then a driver should not be found guilty for failing to pull over.
- Lack of intent. Evading is an intent crime in Nevada: This means that defendants should not be convicted of it unless they willfully ignored the police's signal to stop their car. Perhaps the defendant genuinely did not notice the police were there. Or perhaps the defendant was suffering a disabling medical episode. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant acted with intent, the evading charges should be dropped.
- Unsafe to pull over. Prosecutors may be willing to drop evasion charges if the only reason a driver failed to pull over is that it was unsafe to do so. Evidence such as video recordings and eyewitnesses could be brought in to show that it would have been dangerous to stop, and that the defendant behaved justifiably under the circumstances.
Violating NRS 484B.550 can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Nevada depending on the case. The punishment depends on the following factors:
- whether the driver acted in a dangerous way,
- whether any property was damaged,
- whether anyone sustained serious bodily harm or was killed, and
- whether the person was driving under the influence
Note that a misdemeanor charge of the Nevada crime of reckless driving is a "lesser included offense" of felony evasion: This means that a defendant cannot be convicted of both misdemeanor reckless driving and felony evasion for the same matter.2
3.1. Standard sentence
Evading is only a misdemeanor as long as:
- no one got seriously hurt;
- the driver was not drunk or high; and
- the driver was not driving dangerously
Misdemeanor penalties include:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
3.2. Evading while DUI
If an evading driver was also intoxicated by drugs or alcohol at the time, then ignoring a traffic stop is a category D felony. The punishment carries:
- 1 to 4 years in prison, and
- a fine of up to $5,000 (at the court's discretion)
Note that drivers in this situation will probably also be charged with the separate crime of DUI. Nevada's DUI penalties depend on the defendant's criminal history, and whether anyone was harmed.
3.3. Evading while driving dangerously or causing damage
An evading driver who causes damage to another person's property -- or who is driving in a way likely to endanger people or property -- faces category B felony charges. The sentence includes:
- 1 to 6 years in prison, and/or
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the court's discretion)
3.4. Evading causing death or serious injury
It is also a category B felony when an evading driver causes a fatality or serious injuries to someone. The penalty is:
- 2 to 20 years in prison, and/or
- up to $50,000 in fines (at the court's discretion)
Learn more in our article on the Nevada crime of evading police and causing death or injury.3
Immigration judges may consider evasion to be a crime involving moral turpitude, which is deportable.4 Consequently, aliens facing criminal charges are strongly advised to seek legal representation in attempt to get their charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
The waiting period to get an evading case sealed depends on what crime category the defendant was convicted of:
Nevada evading conviction
Record seal waiting time
1 year after the case ends
Category D felony
5 years after the case ends
Category B felony
5 years after the case ends
Note that people who have a Nevada felony DUI conviction on their record are unable to get any other crimes on their record sealed. Therefore, a person convicted of both felony DUI and evading would be unable to get either sealed.5
Also note that if the evasion charge gets dismissed (meaning there is no conviction), then the defendant can apply for a record seal right away.6 However, the Nevada record seal process itself takes several weeks.
Even people with just misdemeanor convictions on their record are urged to get their record sealed as soon as possible. An evasion conviction looks bad on background checks and could cause prospective employers to pass over an otherwise qualified candidate.
6.1. Resisting arrest (NRS 199.280)
The Nevada crime of resisting arrest occurs when a person is trying to keep a police officer from carrying out an arrest or other duties.
Resisting without a weapon is a misdemeanor, carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But using a weapon in attempt to take an officer's weapons while resisting an arrest is a felony, carrying at least one year in prison.
6.2. Obstructing public officers (NRS 197.190)
The Nevada crime of obstructing a public officer happens when someone lies to or withholds information from a public officer. Police are an example of public officers.
Obstruction is punished as a misdemeanor, carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
6.3. Battery on a peace officer (NRS 200.481)
The Nevada crime of battery of a peace officer is when a person applies unlawful physical force on a police officer. Common examples of battery include throwing objects at, hitting, or spitting on.
A battery of police without strangulation or without causing substantial physical injuries is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. This carries up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
Otherwise, battery of a peace officer is a category B felony, carrying 2 to 10 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines. (But if the incident involved a deadly weapon, the maximum prison sentence increases to 15 years).
6.4. Escaping from prison (NRS 212.090)
The Nevada crime of escaping custody happens when suspects or convicts break out of or flee from prison, jail, or police custody. The penalties depend on the original crime the defendant was incarcerated for.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...
No matter what charge you are facing in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are eager to try to get your case dismissed or at least reduced to a lesser crime. Please phone us today at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your case for free.
For information about California evading laws, go to our article on California evading laws.
For information about Colorado eluding laws, go to our article on Colorado eluding laws.
NRS 484B.550 Stop required upon signal of peace officer; manner in which signal must be given; penalties.
1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the driver of a motor vehicle who willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude a peace officer in a readily identifiable vehicle of any police department or regulatory agency, when given a signal to bring the vehicle to a stop is guilty of a misdemeanor.
2. The signal by the peace officer described in subsection 1 must be by flashing red lamp and siren.
3. Unless the provisions of NRS 484B.653 apply if, while violating the provisions of subsection 1, the driver of the motor vehicle:
(a) Is the proximate cause of damage to the property of any other person; or
(b) Operates the motor vehicle in a manner which endangers or is likely to endanger any other person or the property of any other person,
--> the driver is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
4. If, while violating the provisions of subsection 1, the driver of the motor vehicle is the proximate cause of the death of or bodily harm to any other person, the driver is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, or by a fine of not more than $50,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
5. If the driver of the motor vehicle is convicted of a violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 arising out of the same act or transaction as a violation of subsection 1, the driver is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130 for the violation of subsection 1.
Also see Baldridge v. State, 2016 Nev. App. LEXIS 226 (Nev. Ct. App. May 18, 2016) (There was enough evidence to sustain an evasion conviction when the defendant failed to stop upon the police signal, pulled over a curb, drove around a business, and then reversed into the police car).
Kelley v. State, 371 P.3d 1052, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 32 (April 28, 2016)("The elements of the felony eluding offense, as charged in this case, include: (1) driving a vehicle (2) in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any other person or the property of any other person. NRS 484B.550(1), (3). All of the elements of misdemeanor reckless driving—(1) driving a vehicle (2) in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property, NRS 484B.653(1)(a)—are included in the elements of the charged offense of felony eluding under NRS 484B.550(3)(b), making misdemeanor reckless driving a lesser included offense in this case. Because the offense of reckless driving is a lesser included offense of felony eluding as charged in this case, Kelley could not be punished for both crimes.").
- NRS 484B.550.
- See, e.g., discussion in Ramirez-Contreras v. Sessions, 858 F.3d 1298 (9th Cir., 2017).
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.