Fighting "Failure to signal" tickets in Nevada
(NRS 484B.413)

Failing to signal before turning or changing lanes in Nevada is a misdemeanor carrying a small fine and one (1) driver's license demerit point in Nevada. But prosecutors may be willing to negotiate the charge down to a full dismissal or a non-moving violation.

In residential or business districts, drivers must signal no less than 100 feet prior to the turn or lane change. On highways, the minimum distance to begin signaling is 300 feet. And if there is a pedestrian in the path of the car, the driver is required to honk the horn.

People who ignore their Nevada traffic citations may get slapped with a bench warrant for their arrest. So it is important to retain an experienced attorney to handle the manner promptly.

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

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Forgetting to turn on a turn signal is a misdemeanor in Nevada.

1. Is "failing to signal" illegal in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Yes. Drivers need to use their vehicles' turn signal every time they change lanes or make right or left turns. It makes no difference what the weather is. (Other names for turn signals are blinkers or indicator lights.)

The amount of advanced notice drivers need to provide prior to turning or changing lanes depends on their location:

  • Residential or business districts: Drivers need to signal at least 100 feet prior to the turn or lane change.
  • Highways: Drivers need to signal no less than 300 feet prior to the turn or lane change on roadways outside residential or business districts.

Drivers are required to honk their horns in situations where a pedestrian could be affected by a car's turn or lane change. Drivers are also expected to give an appropriate signal to drivers immediately behind them in advance of stopping suddenly or decreasing their speed. And driver should not turn or change lanes unless it can be done safely.1

2. How do I fight the charges?

The more evidence a defendant has, the better. It will be helpful if the defense attorney can find:

  • surveillance video that shows the defendant signaling,
  • photographs that indicate the defendant was signaling, and/or
  • eyewitnesses that saw the defendant signaling

Most traffic cases do not require intense investigation or litigation on the merits. Many prosecutors are willing to reduce the charge to a non-moving violation without much of a fight. And if the D.A. lacks sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense attorney can persuade the D.A. to drop the charge completely.

Depending on the facts of the case, common defenses to NRS 484B.413 violations include 1) there were no other car or pedestrians, or 2) the driver was acting out of safety in an emergency situation:

2.1. When there are no other drivers on the road

It is still against the law not to signal in advance of a turn or lane change even if there are no other vehicles in the vicinity. In practice, however, drivers on empty roads are very unlikely to pick up "failure to signal" citations precisely because there is no one around to witness the lack of signaling.

However, drivers are not required to signal prior to slowing down or stopping suddenly if there are no cars behind them. So if a driver is cited for not signaling prior to a sudden stop or speed decrease, the charge should be dismissed if the prosecutor cannot prove that there was another vehicle to the driver's rear.

Additionally, drivers do not have to give any "audible signals" before turning or changing lanes if there are no pedestrians who would be affected by the driver's change of course. So if a driver is cited for not using a horn, the charge should be dismissed if the prosecutor cannot prove that there were pedestrians who could have gotten in the driver's way.2

2.2. Safety and necessity

Sometimes forces beyond drivers' control require them to make sudden turns or lane changes to avoid an accident. As long as the driver acted reasonably under the circumstances, chances are good the D.A. will drop any charges for not signaling. Eyewitness testimony and any available surveillance or dash-cam video could be invaluable in showing that the driver had no opportunity to signal prior to changing course.

3. What are the penalties for failing to signal in Las Vegas, Nevada?

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The City of Las fine for failure to signal is $205. Fines vary from city to city or county to county. Since violating NRS 484B.413 is a misdemeanor, judges can theoretically impose up to $1,000 in fines and/or six (6) months in jail. But it exceedingly rare for courts to levy any jail and high fines for such a minor traffic offense.3

4. Can I get a charge reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, judges are usually willing to lessen minor moving violations to non-moving violations. It is tougher to get minor moving violations completely dismissed unless the defense attorney can show that the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to sustain a conviction.

5. How many points will go on my Nevada driver's license?

The Nevada DMV puts one (1) demerit point on a person's license for "failure to signal." Demerit points stay on the driver's license for one (1) year before disappearing.

If a driver's license accumulates twelve (12) or more demerit points, the license will be suspended for six (6) months. People facing a license suspension may contest it a DMV hearing, which is a like a mini-trial.4

Note that driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.5

6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?

Most likely. Therefore, anyone charged with a moving violation is urged to fight the case. If the charge gets reduced or dismissed, there should not be insurance consequences.

7. Do I have to do traffic school?

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It is usually not required. But some people may elect to do traffic school because it usually causes a moving violation to be reduced to a non-moving violation. And non-moving violations are better than moving violations because they carry zero demerit points and do not affect insurance.6

8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?

In every case where a person blows off his/her Nevada traffic ticket, the judge will issue a bench warrant after a 30-day grace period. People late on fine payments are given the opportunity to do community service instead. But a bench warrant will issue if they do not complete the community service.

Once a person has a bench warrant, he/she can be arrested at any time.

A defense attorney can usually get bench warrants recalled ("quashed") by requesting a court hearing. And in most cases, the defendant does not need to appear at this hearing.

Depending on the case, the Nevada DMV can suspend a person's driver's license for blowing off a traffic ticket. If that happens, the judge would need to issue an "FTA (failure to appear) clearance" that would then allow the DMV to reinstate the defendant's license.7

9. What will happen to my Nevada commercial driver's license?

Failing to signal in Nevada will cause one (1) demerit point to be added to both the driver's non-commercial license as well as commercial license (CDLs). But CDL-holders have to tell their boss about the ticket within thirty (30) days of the incident.8

9.1. CDL Suspension

Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes is considered a serious offense under federal law. A CDL will be suspended for 60 days if the driver commits two (2) serious offenses in three (3) years while driving a commercial vehicle. The suspension period grows to 120 days for committing three (3) "serious offenses" within three (3) years.9

10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?

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Out-of-state DMVs tend to levy similar penalties to Nevada's. But out-of-state drivers should consult with an attorney in their home state to discuss the consequences of getting a traffic ticket in Nevada and if/how to avoid them.

11. When can I seal a conviction for failing to signal in Nevada?

The waiting period to seal a Nevada conviction for "failing to signal" is one (1) year after the case is closed.10 But if the case gets dismissed (which means the charge is dropped and there is no conviction), there is no waiting period.11

12. Will I get deported?

Forgetting to put on a turn signal is not a deportable offense. But immigration law is changing extremely fast and is getting more strict. Any immigrant--especially undocumented aliens--are encouraged to consult an attorney after being issued a ticket to discuss their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the fine?

Fighting the ticket is usually advisable. Defendants who fight their traffic ticket oftentimes are successful in getting the charges reduced to a non-moving violation or possibly a dismissal. The benefits include zero demerit points, no insurance consequences, and no moving violation on their record.

14. Can I go to trial?

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Yes. If necessary, defendants can request a bench trial (where the judge hands down the verdict). The defendant would not be entitled to a jury trial. But Nevada courts hardly ever see traffic trials; most cases settle.12

15. Do I need an attorney?

There is no way to overstate how valuable having an attorney is, even in minor traffic cases where no one got hurt. Experienced counsel knows how to negotiate with the D.A.s for the best deals. And for defendants who live out of state or have a day job, having an attorney relieves them of having to show up in court.

15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court "attorney sessions"

Whereas many criminal cases drag on for weeks or months, Las Vegas traffic tickets can usually be dealt with in a few days. Las Vegas Justice Court holds biweekly "attorney sessions" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, solely for the purpose of resolving traffic tickets that were issued in the city's unincorporated city limits.

16. If a driver causes an accident by not signaling, can I file a lawsuit?

Possibly. Drivers who fail to signal are breaching their of duty of care towards other drivers. And if this breach of duty causes an accident, then the driver is arguably negligent.

In Nevada, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the driver based on negligence per se.  A defendant is liable under negligence per se if:

  1. the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484B.413),
  2. this violation caused an injury (the driver's failure to signal caused your car accident), and
  3. the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (NRS 484B.413 is meant to protect all other drivers including you).13

It is easier to recover a financial reward under "negligence per se" than a straight negligence claim. This is because negligence per se removes the need for a judge or jury to determine whether the defendant's actions were reasonable. Instead, the judge or jury can assume the defendant's actions were unreasonable because the defendant broke the law. All the judge or jury really needs to determine is whether the defendant's unreasonable conduct caused the accident.

The majority of personal injury lawsuits settle out of court without a trial. Either way, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys would fight for compensatory damages to cover your:

Even if you partly contributed to the collision, you could still be eligible for a hefty financial reward. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.

17. Related traffic violations in Nevada

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

Were you cited for forgetting to turn on your signal in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) may be able to help. During our FREE consultation, we will discuss how we will fight to get your ticket reduced to non-moving violations with the lowest fines, zero demerit points, and no traffic school. For tickets in California, please visit our page on Vehicle Code 22108 VC | Failure to signal tickets in California.

Legal References:

  1. Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV refers to failing to signal as Failure to use or improper signal/Failure to sound horn when required, Violation Code 105 or ACD Code N40; NRS 484B.413 Requirements for turning on highway; signal for stopping or decreasing speed.

          1. A driver shall not turn a vehicle from a direct course upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving a clearly audible signal by sounding the horn if any pedestrian may be affected by such movement and after giving an appropriate signal if any other vehicle may be affected by such movement.

          2. A signal of intention to turn right or left, or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course, shall be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled in a business or residential district and not less than the last 300 feet traveled in any other area prior to changing the course of a vehicle. This rule shall be observed, regardless of the weather.

          3. A driver shall not stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear.

  2. NRS 484B.413.
  3. Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule; NRS 193.150; NRS 484B.413 violations are prosecuted as misdemeanors, not infractions. See, e.g., Karen Woodmansee, Man charged with multiple drug counts after traffic stop, Nevada Appeal (June 21, 2008) and Jeff Munson, Carson City authorities report several misdemeanor related arrests, (March 31, 2013).
  4. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
  5. NRS 484B.560.
  6. See, e.g., Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
  7. NRS 173.155; see, e.g. motion to place on calendar to quash the warrant at Las Vegas Justice Court; Nevada DMV Suspension.
  8. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
  9. 49 CFR §383.51.
  10. NRS 179.245.
  11. NRS 179.255.
  12. Sixth Amendment.
  13. Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 99 Nev. 204, 207, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015 (Nev.,1983).

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