Fighting traffic tickets for "making an improper turn"
in Las Vegas, Nevada
(NRS 484B.400)

Making an improper turn in Nevada is a misdemeanor with a typical fine of around $395 and four (4) driver's license demerit points. But it may be possible to get the charge dismissed or lessened to a non-moving violation.

People who ignore their citation for turning from the wrong lane risk getting a Nevada bench warrant for their arrest. Prosecutors are usually willing to agree to a favorable resolution as long as the defendant (or his/her attorney) appears in court and takes the charge seriously .

In this article our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about making improper right or left turns in Clark County and throughout Nevada. We discuss defenses, sentences, demerit points, record seals, and more. Click on a topic below to jump directly to that section:

If you have been injured by a vehicle making an improper turn, you may be entitled to a financial reward. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to learn more.

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Making an improper turn is a misdemeanor in Nevada.

1. What are the laws for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Drivers who make a right or left turn may only do so from the right-most or left-most lanes, respectively, or from other lanes marked as right or left turn lanes. And drivers must not make right or left turns in violation of traffic signs that indicate turns are not allowed. Nevada law specifies the following five rules for the various types of roadways:

  1. When the turn is a right turn: Both the approach for the right turn and the right turn must be made from the right turn lane if the highway has a right turn lane as set forth in subsection 4 of NRS 484B.223, or must be made from the extreme right lane.
  2. When both intersecting highways are two-directional: The approach for a left turn must be made in that portion of the right half of the highway nearest the centerline thereof; after entering the intersection, the left turn must be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the centerline of the highway being entered; and except as otherwise directed by official traffic-control devices, simultaneous left turns by opposing traffic must be made in front of each other.
  3. When the turn is a left turn from a two-directional highway onto a one-way highway: The approach for the left turn must be made in that portion of the right half of the highway nearest the centerline thereof, and the turn must be made by turning from the right of the centerline where it enters the intersection as close as practicable to the left-hand curb of the one-way highway.
  4. When the turn is a left turn from a one-way highway onto a two-directional highway: The left turn must be made by passing to the right of the centerline of the highway being entered upon leaving the intersection, and the approach for the left turn must be made as close as practicable to the left-hand curb of the one-way highway.
  5. When the turn is a left turn where both intersecting highways are one-way: Both the approach for the left turn and the left turn must be made as close as practicable to the left-hand curb or edge of the highway.1

2. How do I fight charges for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

The best way to disprove a traffic charge is to show that the D.A. has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Typical evidence that the defense attorney may rely on includes:

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  • surveillance video,
  • photographs, and/or
  • eye-witnesses

Note that traffic cases are rarely heavily litigated. The prosecutor will usually agree to a settlement early in the process. 

3. What are the penalties for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Making an improper turn is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of $1,000 in fines and/or six (6) months in jail. Typically, the judge imposes only a fine. The amount varies by jurisdiction. In Las Vegas, the usual fine is $395.2

4. Can I get a charge for turning from the wrong lane reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Probably, yes, unless the person has a long history of traffic violations. Every case is different, though.

5. How many points will turning from the wrong lane put on my driver's license in Las Vegas, Nevada?

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The Nevada DMV's penalty for an improper turn is four (4) driver's license demerit points. Demerit points go away after one (1) year. But having twelve (12) or more points on a license at one time will cause it to be suspended for six (6) months.3

Driving with a suspended license carries up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But it may be possible to contest the license suspension in the first place at a Nevada DMV hearing, which is like a small-scale trial.4

6. Will turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada cause my auto insurance rates to go up?

Probably, yes. That is why it is worth it to hire an attorney to try to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation or dismissed, which should have no insurance consequences.

7. Do I have to do traffic school if I get cited for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Usually, no. However, a common way to get traffic charges reduced to a non-moving violation is by completing online traffic school. Non-moving violations carry no demerit points.5

8. What happens if I ignore my ticket for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Judges punish people who blow off their traffic charges by issuing a bench warrant for their arrest. The only way to get a bench warrant recalled is to file a "motion to quash" the warrant and appear at a hearing to try to convince the judge to recall the warrant. Defense attorneys are very skilled in persuading judges to quash warrants.

Note that sometimes the Nevada DMV will suspend the driver's licenses of people who fail to appear in court on their cases. A defense attorney can help to try to get the license reinstated.6

9. How will turning from the wrong lane affect my commercial driver's license in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) and who were cited for an improper turn will have four (4) demerit points added to both their non-commercial driver's license and their CDL. Note that CDL-holders have to tell their bosses about the citation within 30 days of getting it.7

9.1. CDL Suspension

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Federal law considers "making improper or erratic traffic lane changes" to be a "serious offense" under federal law. CDL-holders with two (2) serious offenses within a three (3) year period will have their CDL suspended for 60 days. A third offense within three (3) years will cause their CDL to get suspended for 120 days.8

10. What happens to my out-of-state license if I turned from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Contact an attorney in the home state to discuss.

11. When can I seal a conviction for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

In most cases, defendants convicted of making an improper turn in Nevada may pursue a record seal one (1) year after the case is closed.9 Note there is no waiting period if the defendant does not end up getting convicted of anything (the case gets "dismissed").10

12. Will I get deported for turning from the wrong lane in Nevada?

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Making an improper turn is not deportable crime, but immigrants are still urged to consult with an attorney. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

13. Should I fight my citation for "turning from the wrong lane" in Las Vegas, Nevada or just pay the fine?

By all means, fight. Chances are the prosecutor will reduce the charge to a non-moving violation and maybe a full dismissal with no demerit point penalties.

14. Can I go to trial for turning from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

People charged with making an improper turn are entitled to a bench trial (where the judge makes the decision and there is no jury). But most traffic cases resolve without a trial.11

15. Do I need an attorney if I turned from the wrong lane in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Having an attorney makes a lot of sense. Even though it should not matter, prosecutors usually make better offers to defense attorneys than to unrepresented defendants. And by hiring a lawyer, the defendant usually never has to appear in court. 

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

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Call our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Were you pulled over for making an improper turn in Clark County or elsewhere on Nevada's highways? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys could help you try to get the charge reduced or dismissed. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. Our goal is to reduce or eliminate your fines and demerit points.

Were you or a loved one injured in an accident when a driver turned from the wrong lane in Nevada? Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys may be able to get you money to pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of future earnings. There is no fee unless we win your case.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 484B.400; Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV refers to turning from the wrong lane as Making Improper Right Turn and Making Improper Left Turn, Violation Codes 325 and 326, ACD Code N54 and N53, respectively. And Clark County Court refers to this offense as Code 14.32.010.
  2. NRS 484B.400.
  3. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; ; Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
  4. NAC 483.764.
  5. See, e.g., Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
  6. NRS 173.155; see, e.g. motion to place on calendar to quash the warrant at Las Vegas Justice Court; Nevada DMV Suspension.
  7. NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
  8. 49 CFR §383.51.
  9. NRS 179.245.
  10. NRS 179.255.
  11. Sixth Amendment.

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