Fighting tickets for "failing to dim high beams" in Nevada
(NRS 484D.215)

Failing to dim high beams is a misdemeanor in Las Vegas carrying a $205 fine and two (2) Nevada driver's license demerit points. Nevada law permits drivers to use high beams unless:

  • there is an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet of the driver, or
  • the driver is behind another vehicle by 300 feet or less

In many cases, failing to dim high beam charges can get reduced to a non-moving violation or possibly dismissed. Typical defense strategies are:

  • The defendant never broke the law,
  • There was an emergency that made using high beams a reasonable choice, or
  • The defendant was falsely accused

Most importantly, people must never ignore their traffic tickets. Otherwise, the judge will not hesitate to issue a Nevada bench warrant. Therefore, anyone facing traffic charges is encouraged to seek out legal counsel as soon as possible to take care of the case in a timely manner.

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

Driver and passenger blinded by high beams
High beam usage is prohibited in Nevada unless there is no other driver within 300 feet ahead or within 500 in the oncoming lane.

1. When high beams are illegal in Las Vegas, Nevada

Drivers may use high beams in Nevada except in the following two circumstances:

  1. The driver is within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or
  2. The driver is following a vehicle by 300 feet or less

High beams ("brights") are much brighter and offer more visibility than regulation headlights ("low beams"). However, they can be blinding to other drivers.

Drivers tend to reserve high beams for country roads or rural highways where there are little traffic and no street lights. Drivers should avoid flipping on high beams in populated areas since there are almost always other drivers nearby.1

2. Fighting the charges

Effective defenses to Nevada charges of failing to dim high beams turn on the specific facts of the case, including the

  • location,
  • weather, and
  • timing.

Common defense strategies include:

headlight symbol in cross out circle
Acting reasonably in an emergency may be a defense to traffic charges.
  1. The driver broke no law
  2. The driver behaved reasonably in an emergency
  3. The driver was falsely accused by another motorist

2.1. The driver broke no law

Perhaps the police mistakenly thought a driver was using high beams when he/she was not. Or perhaps the police miscalculated the distance between a driver using high beams and other vehicles sharing the road.

A defense attorney would attempt to obtain surveillance video of the incident and find eyewitnesses to show that the defendant either dimmed the high beams when necessary or was not close enough to other vehicles to require dimming. As long as the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated NRS 484D.215, the case should be dropped.

2.2. The driver behaved reasonably in an emergency

Sometimes using high beams is the safest choice a driver can make in certain unforeseeable situations. For instance, high beams might be necessary to avoid driving accidents if there is bad weather such as too much fog or if the street lights are down due to a power outage.

In Nevada, drivers may not be held civilly liable when they react reasonably to unexpected conditions.2 This "sudden emergency doctrine" might help protect drivers from criminal liability also. If the defense attorney can demonstrate that any reasonable person in the defendant's scenario would have resorted to high beams, the charge for failing to dim high beams may be dropped.

2.3. The driver was falsely accused by another motorist

Road rage is a common phenomenon, and drivers are quick to blame others when there are accidents. Therefore, the defense attorney would search for any available surveillance video and eyewitnesses to show that the accuser is wrong. If the D.A. has inadequate evidence to carry a guilty verdict, the defendant should not be convicted.

Note that in most minor traffic cases, it is rare for the defense and prosecution to engage in extensive litigation. Much of the time, the defense and prosecution can work a favorable plea deal without much time or expense.

3. Penalties for failing to dim high beams in Las Vegas, Nevada

headlights in the distance on the road
Violating NRS 484D.215 is a misdemeanor.

In the City of Las Vegas, the fine for failing to dim high beams when necessary is $205.3 The fine varies by city and county.

Most misdemeanor offenses such as failing to dim high beams have a maximum sentence of $1,000 and/or six (6) months in jail. However, it is very rare for traffic defendants to be punished with jail.4

4. Getting the charge reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, Nevada

Unless the defendant has a history of traffic violations, prosecutors are often willing to reduce tickets for NRS 484D.215 violations down to non-moving violations. In fact, it might be possible to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the case completely if the defense attorney can show that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction.

5. Nevada driver's license demerit points

The Nevada DMV adds two (2) demerit points on a defendant's driver's license for wrongful high beam use.5 Demerit points disappear after one (1) year.

Note that accumulating twelve (12) or more demerit points results in a six (6) month license suspension. The only way to fight the suspension is through a DMV administrative hearing, which is like to a miniature trial.6

6. Auto insurance rates increases

People who are ultimately convicted of failing to dim high beams usually will see a hefty rate hike. Therefore, defendants are encouraged to fight the charges in an attempt to get the case reduced to a non-moving violation that has no insurance penalties.

7. Traffic school

black headlight symbol
Traffic school is typically not required for a NRS 484D.215 violation.

Traffic school is usually not a required penalty for high beam convictions. But many defendants opt to take traffic school as a way to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation and thereby avoid demerit points and insurance rate increases.7

8. Ignoring traffic tickets

When traffic defendants do not pay their fine or fight the charge, the judge will issue a bench warrant for their arrest after the first missed court appearance. Once there is a bench warrant, the defendant risks getting arrested at any time and being held without bail.

It is possible to get bench warrants "quashed" (recalled), but it requires filing a motion with the court and having a hearing in front of the judge. There is never a guarantee that the judge will quash the warrant, especially if the defendant has a history of missing court appearances.8

Therefore. anyone who is issued a traffic ticket is advised either to hire an attorney to fight the case or else pay the fine. The worst thing is to blow off the ticket.

9. Commercial driver's licenses

The Nevada DMV adds two (2) demerit points to a person's commercial license (CDL) for failing to dim high beams.9

10. Out-of-state licenses

Other states' DMVs usually impose the same penalty that it would had the high beam violation took place in the driver's home state. Out-of-state traffic defendants should consult with an attorney in the home state for more information.

11. Sealing convictions for failing to dim high beams in Nevada

close up of headlights
There is a one-year waiting period to seal a NRS 484D.215 conviction.

People convicted of illegal high beam usage in Nevada have to wait one (1) year after the case closes before they may petition the court for a record seal.10

Note that whenever a traffic charge gets dismissed, there is no waiting period to petition to seal the record. When defendants choose not to seal dismissed charges, their background checks will show that a citation was issued but that there was no conviction.11

Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.

12. Immigration consequences

Using high beams unlawfully is not a deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Note that undocumented immigrants may be deported even if they do not commit a crime. Illegal aliens should consult with a Nevada immigration attorney to learn their options for obtaining legal residency in the U.S.

13. Fighting traffic citations versus paying the fine

It is tempting just to pay the fine, but it is usually worth it to fight. In many cases, the D.A. will be amenable to reducing or dismissing the charge. And a charge reduction or dismissal will relieve the defendant from car insurance hikes and demerit points penalties.

14. Going to trial

Anyone charged with a traffic violation may fight the charge at a Nevada bench trial. Unlike Nevada jury trials, bench trials do not have a jury, and the judge decides the verdict.12

Note that traffic trials hardly ever happen because prosecutors are often willing to negotiate a fair plea bargain.

15. Why to hire an attorney

Having an attorney is recommended for even the most minor traffic offenses for the following three reasons:

  1. Defense attorneys have relationships with prosecutors and judges and usually know the best ways to persuade them to grant a dismissal or charge reduction.
  2. If an attorney appears at a court hearing, the defendant will not have to show up (with rare exception). So defendants who live long distances from court or who have jobs during business hours will not have to travel or miss work as long as they hire an attorney.
  3. In reality, prosecutors usually offer more favorable plea deals to defendants with attorneys.

Another benefit of having private counsel for traffic matters is that the attorney might be able to resolve the matter swiftly. For example, Las Vegas Justice Court hosts biweekly "attorney sessions" on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to allow defense attorneys and prosecutors to hammer out traffic ticket plea bargains. Because of these attorney sessions, many traffic ticket cases can settle within a few days as opposed to weeks or longer.

16. Personal injury lawsuits

Drivers who use high beams against the law are being negligent to any other drivers sharing the road. Nevada law permits car accident victims ("plaintiffs") to sue other drivers ("defendants") under the legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant can be found liable in a negligence per se case if:

headlight symbol
People who caused accidents by violating NRS 484D.215 may face personal injury lawsuits.
  1. the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484D.215);
  2. this violation caused an injury (such as a car accident); and
  3. the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as pedestrians crossing the street or other drivers on the road).13

It is often easier to prevail in a "negligence per se" lawsuit than a regular negligence lawsuit: In a negligence per se lawsuit, the court may presume the defendant was acting unreasonably. The plaintiff's main job is to show that the defendant's negligent behavior caused his/her injury.

Note that even defendants who were partially to blame for an accident may still be able to recover damages under Nevada's comparative negligence laws. As long as the defendant is no more than 50% at fault, he/she may have a valid negligence claim.14

Whether a personal injury case settles out of court or goes to trial, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys strive for the largest financial reward possible to cover the victims':

Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.

17. Related traffic violations in Nevada

17.1. Failing to use headlights (NRS 484D.100)

The Nevada crime of failing to use headlights when it is dark or during inclement weather carries a $205 fine in Las Vegas as well as two (2) demerit points. It is often possible to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation.

17.2. Texting while driving (NRS 484B.165)

A first-time offense of the Nevada crime of texting while driving carries a $50 fine. A second-time offense within a seven (7) year period carries a $100 fine as well as four (4) demerit points. For a third-time offense within a seven (7) year period, the fine increases to $250.

17.3. Failing to signal (NRS 484B.413)

The Nevada crime of failure to signal carries a small fine and one (1) demerit point. In residential or business districts, drivers have to use a signal no less than 100 feet before turning or changing lanes. On highways, the minimum distance is 300 feet.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE today for a FREE consultation.

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

Were you cited for failing to dim high beams in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) are here to help. Contact us for a FREE consultation, and we can discuss how we will fight to get your citation dropped or lessened to a non-moving violation.

For California cases, please visit our page on traffic tickets for failing to dim high beams in California - Vehicle Code 24409.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 484D.215 Use of equipment for lighting road with multiple beams.

    Whenever a motor vehicle is being operated on the traveled portion of the highway, or shoulder adjacent thereto, during the times specified in NRS 484D.100, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, directed high enough and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a safe distance in advance of the vehicle, subject to the following requirements and limitations:

          1. Whenever a driver of a vehicle approaches an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver. The lowermost distribution of light, or composite beam, specified in subsection 2 of NRS 484D.210 shall be deemed to avoid glare at all times, regardless of road contour and loading.

          2. Whenever the driver of a vehicle follows another vehicle within 300 feet to the rear, the driver shall use a distribution of light permissible under this chapter other than the uppermost distribution of light specified in subsection 1 of NRS 484D.210.

  2. See Posas v. Horton, 228 P.3d 457, 126 Nev. 112 (2010)("[A] sudden emergency occurs when an unexpected condition confronts a party exercising reasonable care.").
  3. Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines (the violation code is 1814).
  4. NRS 193.150.
  5. Nevada DMV Violation Codes (the violation code is 233, the ACD code is E54, and the description is Failure To Use Headlight Dimmer As Required).
  6. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
  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. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
  10. NRS 179.245.
  11. NRS 179.255.
  12. Sixth Amendment.
  13. Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207 (1983).
  14. NRS 41.141.

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