Fighting tickets for "failing to use child restraints" in Nevada
(NRS 484B.157)

Nevada law prohibits driving children passengers without safety restraints who are:

  1. under 6 years old, and
  2. weigh 60 pounds or less

A first-time offense of failing to properly secure a child passenger is a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • $100 to $500 in fines ($205 in the City of Las Vegas), or
  • 10 to 50 hours of community service.

However, defendants can avoid these penalties by completing a child safety course within 60 days of the sentencing hearing. There is also no driver's license demerit point penalties for failing to use a car seat.

Common defenses to charges of violating NRS 484B.157 include:

  • The child was at least 6 years old or weighed more than 60 pounds,
  • The child was medically exempt from child seat requirements, or
  • The defendant was falsely accused

Whenever a person gets a traffic citation, he/she is advised to handle it right away either by hiring an attorney to fight it or by paying the fine. If the defendant does nothing, then it is only a matter of time before a judge issues a Nevada bench warrant for his/her arrest.

In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:

baby in car seat
Transporting a child without a proper car seat is a crime in Nevada.

1. Child restraint laws in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada drivers are required to use a "child restraint system" approved by the United States Department of Transportation when transporting a child who is:

  1. under 6 years old, and
  2. 60 pounds or less

A “child restraint system” means any device that is designed for use in a motor vehicle to restrain, seat, or position children. Child restraint systems include such devices as:

  • booster seats and belt-positioning seats that are designed to elevate or otherwise position a child so as to allow the child to be secured with a safety belt;
  • Integrated child seats; and
  • Safety belts that are designed specifically to be adjusted to accommodate children.

1.1. Exceptions

Note that car seats are not legally required on public transportation, such as:

  • taxis,
  • school buses, or
  • emergency vehicles

Also, note that car seats are not legally required when a doctor believes it would be impractical or dangerous for a particular child due to a physical or medical condition. In these situations, the driver would need to keep a signed statement from the physician in the vehicle.1

2. Fighting the charges

The facts of each individual case determine which defense strategy could work best in fighting the charges. Common defenses to NRS 484B.157 allegations are:

car seat
Children age 6 and older do not have to use car seats, but they must use seat belts.
  1. The child was age 6 or older or weighed more than 60 pounds,
  2. The child was medically excused from using a car seat, or
  3. The defendant was falsely accused

Note that the defense attorney and D.A. can often come to a favorable plea deal in these types of minor traffic matters without extensive litigation.

2.1. The child was age 6 or older or weighed more than 60 pounds

Some children look younger than they are or weigh more than they appear. And this may cause police to wrongly cite drivers for failing to secure their child in a child restraint. But the prosecutor should dismiss the charges once the driver presents evidence of the child's age or weight, including:

  • a birth certificate,
  • passport, or
  • medical records

Note that children older than age 5 or who weigh more than 60 pounds are still required to wear regulation seat belts like adults are. Learn more about Nevada seat belt laws.

2.2. The child was medically excused from using a car seat

Not all children under 6 years old and weighing 60 pounds or less are suited for car seats. Some conditions that may make child restraints impracticable include:

  • sensory issues, such as with autism
  • obesity
  • having a sprained or fractured limb in a cast

Parents (or other adults) who are driving children are supposed to keep with them a doctor's note explaining that the child is medically exempt from car seat regulations.2 But if they forget to carry the note and police cite them for a car seat violation, prosecutors may be willing to drop the case if they can later produce the doctor's note. 

2.3. The driver was falsely accused

young girl in car seat
Some parents are falsely accused of not using a car seat.

Parents know that self-proclaimed good Samaritans are quick to call the authorities about alleged child neglect without any verification. And sometimes ex-spouses or ex-partners falsely accuse the other of child neglect out of revenge or anger.

If a person gets wrongly cited for not properly securing a child while driving, the defense attorney would try to find eyewitnesses or surveillance video to show that no law was broken. The attorney may also try to show angry text messages or voicemails by the accuser to demonstrate a motivation to lie. As long as the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the criminal charges cannot stand.

3. Penalties for failing to properly secure a child in a vehicle in Las Vegas, Nevada

The penalties for violating NRS 484B.157 get harsher with each successive conviction.

NRS 484B.157 conviction

Penalties

First-time offense

$100 to $500 in fines or 10 to 50 hours of community service

However, the court will waive these penalties if the defendant completes a child restraint system training class within 60 days of the sentencing.

Second-time offense

$500 to $1,000 in fines or 50 to 100 hours of community service

However, the court will halve these penalties if:

  • the defendant completes a child restraint system training class within 60 days of the sentencing, and
  • the defendant did not have his/her fine or community service sentence waived for his/her first offense.

Third- or subsequent offense

Driver's license suspension of 30 to 180 days

In the City of Las Vegas, the fine for a first-time offense is $205.3 Note that child restraint classes are usually done in person and not online.4

4. Getting child seat violation charges dismissed in Las Vegas, Nevada

It may be possible to get an NRS 484B.157 allegation totally dismissed. There are various arguments a criminal defense attorney can make in an attempt to persuade the prosecutor that the charge is baseless (see section 2 above). And if the prosecutor realizes the state lacks sufficient evidence to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor may drop the entire case.

Note that the chances of getting a case dismissed are usually higher if the defendant is represented by counsel. Criminal defense attorneys are skilled in evidence collection, investigation, and negotiation. And prosecutors tend to take defendants more seriously if they have a lawyer.

5. Nevada driver's license demerit points

child in car seat
Violating NRS 484B.157 carries no demerit points in Nevada.

Improperly securing a child in a car is a non-moving violation in Nevada.5 Therefore, the Nevada DMV will not penalize the driver by adding driver's license demerit points.

Recall from section 3 above that a third-time offense of not using a proper restraint system for a child passenger carries a mandatory driver's license suspension period of 30 to 180 days. Defendants can contest these suspensions at a DMV hearing, which is similar to a trial.6

6. Auto insurance rates increases

Even though Nevada law classifies child seat offenses as non-moving violations, some car insurance companies will still increase people's premium rates following a conviction. Therefore, defendants should read their insurance policies to determine whether a ticket for improper child restraints will result in higher rates.

7. Traffic school

Traffic school is not a typical penalty for an NRS 484B.157 violation. But as discussed above in section 3, the judge may order that the defendant complete a child restraint class. Unlike traffic school, child restraint classes are usually done in person so the defendant can physically practice installing a car seat.7

8. Bench warrants for ignoring traffic tickets

The punishment for "forgetting" to pay a traffic ticket is far worse than the original fine. As soon as the defendant misses the deadline to pay the fine or appear in court, the judge will issue a bench warrant. That means the defendant can be arrested at any time and held in custody pending the next court appearance.

Once defendants learn they have a bench warrant, they are advised to hire an attorney to try to get the warrant "quashed" (recalled). The attorney would then file a motion and schedule a hearing to try to convince the judge to drop the warrant.

More often than not, judges agree to recall defendants' bench warrants if they do not have a history of missing court. Once the bench warrant is gone, the defendant is no longer at constant risk of getting arrested.8

9. Commercial driver's licenses

As discussed above in section 5, there is no DMV penalty for using an improper child restraint system. This is true for both commercial and non-commercial driver's licenses.

10. Out-of-state licenses

Every state's DMV operates differently. Violating NRS 484B.157 carries no demerit point penalties in Nevada, but that does not guarantee that non-Nevadans will avoid any penalties from their home state DMV.

Therefore, non-Nevada residents who get a traffic ticket in Nevada should always consult with a local attorney in their home state to see if their Nevada traffic case could affect their driver's license.

11. Sealing convictions for failing to properly secure a child in a vehicle in Nevada

baby in car seat
An NRS 484B.157 conviction can be sealed 1 year after the case ends.

Defendants convicted of violating NRS 484B.157 must wait a full year after the case ends in order to petition the applicable court to seal the criminal record.9 But there is no waiting period to seek a record seal if the charge gets dismissed.10

One advantage of getting a record seal is that it looks good to prospective employers. And you can legally deny ever having been charged with or convicted of violating NRS 484B.157 when asked, even under oath. Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.

12. Immigration consequences

Failing to use a proper car seat does not qualify as a deportable offense in Nevada. However, people facing the separate charge of child abuse or neglect in Nevada are at risk of removal. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

13. Fighting traffic citations versus paying the fine

Having a conviction for failing to properly secure a child does not look good on one's background check. Therefore, it is recommended that defendants fight the charge in an attempt to get it dismissed or change to something the carries less of a stigma.

By fighting the charge instead of just paying the original fine, the defendant has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

14. Going to trial

It is unusual for Nevada courts to see a traffic ticket trial because most cases settle through negotiation, but defendants are certainly entitled to trials. Anyone charged with violating NRS 484B.157 may request a Nevada bench trial, where the judge -- and not a jury -- decides the verdict.11

15. Why hire an attorney

Hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney is always recommended for these three reasons:

  1. In practice, prosecutors are not as generous to defendants without an attorney -- especially if the case involved children. But an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade prosecutors to grant a full dismissal;
  2. Defendants without an attorney may need to go to court, which can be a huge expense and inconvenience if they live out of town or if they work. But if they hire an attorney, they probably will never once have to appear before a judge; and
  3. Hiring a criminal defense attorney usually speeds of the entire process. In Las Vegas Justice Court, for example, prosecutors host biweekly "attorney sessions" on Tuesdays and Thursdays to meet with criminal defense attorneys and to try to resolve traffic charges. Otherwise, fighting a ticket may take weeks or longer. 

16. Personal injury lawsuits

The requirement to properly secure small children in vehicles extends not only to parents but also to:

baby in car seat
People accused of failing to use car seats may face both civil and criminal prosecution.
  • caretakers,
  • baby-sitters,
  • day-care workers,
  • preschool teachers, and
  • other parents or adults temporarily caring for the child  

If any of the aforementioned people did not properly strap in a child in a car, they could be liable for negligence per se if the child then gets injured. In order to win a negligence per se case, Plaintiffs (child victims and their parents) would need to prove the following elements:

  1. the defendant (at fault party) violated a statute (such as NRS 484B.157);
  2. this violation caused an injury (such as the child getting hurt by not being properly secured in the car); and
  3. the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as children under 6 and weighing 60 pounds or less).12

It is usually easier to win a "negligence per se" lawsuit than just a regular negligence lawsuit: This is because in a negligence per se lawsuit, the judge can presume the defendant was breaching his/her duty. The plaintiff's main obligation is to show that the defendant's negligent behavior was the cause of any injuries.

However, note that if a person gets convicted of violating NRS 484B.157, this conviction does not automatically make him/her liable for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Criminal court is entirely separate from civil court with different procedures, evidentiary rules, and penalties.13

Irrespective of whether a personal injury case resolves with or without a trial, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys pursue the highest possible financial rewards to pay for:

Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys. Also learn about suing for car seat injuries in Nevada.

17. Related traffic violations in Nevada

17.1. Speeding in a school zone (NRS 484B.363)

People convicted of the Nevada traffic offense of speeding in a school zone face double penalties. For example, a speeding ticket that typically carries a $205 fine would double to a $410 fine in a school zone.

17.2. Failing to stop for a school crossing guard (NRS 484B.350)

The Nevada traffic offense of not stopping for a school crossing guard is charged as reckless driving in Nevada when the driver hits a pedestrian or cyclist. If the victim was seriously injured, the court may hand down one to six (1 - 6) years in Nevada State Prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

17.3. Disobeying a traffic officer (NRS 484B.100)

The Nevada traffic offense of disobeying a traffic officer carries a $305 fine in Las Vegas and four (4) driver's license demerit points. Traffic convictions have to remain on a defendant's criminal record for a full year before the court may seal the record.

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Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Were you cited for failing to use a car seat in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) may be able to get the charge dismissed. Contact us for a FREE consultation. For cases in California, please see our page on Vehicle Code 27360 - California requirements for child restraint systems for children traveling in motor vehicles.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 484B.157 Child less than 6 years of age and weighing 60 pounds or less to be secured in child restraint system while being transported in motor vehicle; requirements for system; penalties; programs of training; waiver or reduction of penalty under certain circumstances; application of section.

          1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 7, any person who is transporting a child who is less than 6 years of age and who weighs 60 pounds or less in a motor vehicle operated in this State which is equipped to carry passengers shall secure the child in a child restraint system which:

          (a) Has been approved by the United States Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. Part 571;

          (b) Is appropriate for the size and weight of the child; and

          (c) Is installed within and attached safely and securely to the motor vehicle:

                 (1) In accordance with the instructions for installation and attachment provided by the manufacturer of the child restraint system; or

                 (2) In another manner that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

          2. If a defendant pleads or is found guilty of violating the provisions of subsection 1, the court shall:

          (a) For a first offense, order the defendant to pay a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 or order the defendant to perform not less than 10 hours or more than 50 hours of community service;

          (b) For a second offense, order the defendant to pay a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 or order the defendant to perform not less than 50 hours or more than 100 hours of community service; and

          (c) For a third or subsequent offense, suspend the driver's license of the defendant for not less than 30 days or more than 180 days.

          3. At the time of sentencing, the court shall provide the defendant with a list of persons and agencies approved by the Department of Public Safety to conduct programs of training and perform inspections of child restraint systems. The list must include, without limitation, an indication of the fee, if any, established by the person or agency pursuant to subsection 4. If, within 60 days after sentencing, a defendant provides the court with proof of satisfactory completion of a program of training provided for in this subsection, the court shall:

          (a) If the defendant was sentenced pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection 2, waive the fine or community service previously imposed; or

          (b) If the defendant was sentenced pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 2, reduce by one-half the fine or community service previously imposed.

    --> A defendant is only eligible for a reduction of a fine or community service pursuant to paragraph (b) if the defendant has not had a fine or community service waived pursuant to paragraph (a).

          4. A person or agency approved by the Department of Public Safety to conduct programs of training and perform inspections of child restraint systems may, in cooperation with the Department, establish a fee to be paid by defendants who are ordered to complete a program of training. The amount of the fee, if any:

          (a) Must be reasonable; and

          (b) May, if a defendant desires to acquire a child restraint system from such a person or agency, include the cost of a child restraint system provided by the person or agency to the defendant.

    --> A program of training may not be operated for profit.

          5. For the purposes of NRS 483.473, a violation of this section is not a moving traffic violation.

          6. A violation of this section may not be considered:

          (a) Negligence in any civil action; or

          (b) Negligence or reckless driving for the purposes of NRS 484B.653.

          7. This section does not apply:

          (a) To a person who is transporting a child in a means of public transportation, including a taxi, school bus or emergency vehicle.

          (b) When a physician determines that the use of such a child restraint system for the particular child would be impractical or dangerous because of such factors as the child's weight, physical unfitness or medical condition. In this case, the person transporting the child shall carry in the vehicle the signed statement of the physician to that effect.

          8. As used in this section, “child restraint system” means any device that is designed for use in a motor vehicle to restrain, seat or position children. The term includes, without limitation:

          (a) Booster seats and belt-positioning seats that are designed to elevate or otherwise position a child so as to allow the child to be secured with a safety belt;

          (b) Integrated child seats; and

  2. Id.
  3. Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines (the violation code is 1723).
  4. See, e.g., Pedsafe Child Safety Classes.
  5. NRS 484B.157.
  6. Nevada DMV Violation Codes (the violation code is 009, the ACD code is F02, and the description is Child or youth restraint not used properly as required).
  7. See, e.g., Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
  8. NRS 173.155; see, e.g. motion to place on calendar to quash the warrant at Las Vegas Justice Court; Nevada DMV Suspension Information Page.
  9. NRS 179.245.
  10. NRS 179.255.
  11. Sixth Amendment.
  12. Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207 (1983).
  13. NRS 484B.157.

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