Fighting tickets for "Unsafe Turning onto Roadway" in Nevada
(NRS 484B.260)

Definition

Nevada law requires drivers turning from a private driveway onto a public road to yield to any approaching vehicles on the public road. Drivers who make unsafe turns face getting a traffic ticket.

Penalties

Violating NRS 484B.260 is a misdemeanor. In Las Vegas, the fine is $305. And the Nevada DMV will add four (4) demerit points to the person's license.

People convicted of making an unsafe turn can get a Nevada criminal record seal one (1) after the case closes. 

Defenses

It is often possible to get unsafe turning charges reduced to a non-moving violation or even dismissed. Typical defenses are:

  • The defendant broke no law,
  • There was an emergency, or
  • The defendant was falsely accused

The most important action a traffic defendant can take is to treat the case seriously. Otherwise, ignoring a traffic ticket will result in an issuance of a bench warrant.

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

Cartoon rendering of car leaving private driveway
Making an unsafe turn from a private way to a street carries a $305 fine in Las Vegas.

1. Do drivers have to yield when leaving a private driveway in Nevada?

Yes. Drivers on a private driveway who are approaching a public street are supposed to yield the right-of-way to any vehicles currently on the public roadway. If necessary, drivers should stop and wait on the private roadway until there is a sufficient break in traffic in order to merge onto the roadway.1

2. How do I fight the charges?

There are three common defenses to allegations of NRS 484B.260 violations:

  1. The driver sufficiently yielded right-of-way
  2. The failure to yield was a reasonable reaction to an emergency situation
  3. The driver was falsely accused

2.1. The driver sufficiently yielded right-of-way

In a street setting where there may be several cars driving at once, law enforcement may have a difficult time discerning whether a driver yielded while turning from a private to a public road. What seems safe from one perspective may seem risky from another vantage point. And in busy times such as rush hour, an officer may be especially prone to misinterpreting a legal turn as unsafe.

Defense attorneys would try to compile as much evidence as possible to show that the driver did nothing wrong. Typical evidence includes eyewitnesses and smartphone footage. Surveillance footage would be ideal, though chances are residential streets may not have any cameras mounted anywhere.

As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant made an unsafe turn from a private roadway to a street, the charge should be dismissed.

2.2. The failure to yield was a reasonable reaction to an emergency situation

Car speeding on street
An emergency may justify a temporary traffic violation in Nevada.

Private driveways and residential streets are frequently the scenes of unexpected situations, such as trees falling or running children. Under such circumstances, a driver may have to break the law in order to avoid an accident.

Nevada courts recognize the "sudden emergency doctrine," which acknowledges that people who act reasonably under emergency conditions should not be liable for any damage they cause.2 Although this is a civil law doctrine, it can potentially serve as a defense to criminal charges as well. If the defense attorney makes a convincing argument that the defendant was justified in making an unsafe turn from a private to public street, the D.A. may be willing to drop the case.

2.3. The driver was falsely accused

Drivers may be in a rush or short-tempered. So it is not uncommon for drivers to accuse each other of traffic law violations, either out of rage, revenge, or an innocent misunderstanding. 

These situations are often cases of one driver's word against the other. Therefore, the defense attorney would try to produce evidence such as text messages or eyewitnesses that show that the accuser had an ulterior motive to blame the defendant. This may be enough to raise a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt, and the D.A. may decide to dismiss the charges.

Chances are a traffic charge will get resolved without extensive investigation or litigation. Prosecutors are usually willing to extend a reasonable offer, saving defendants the trouble of having to defend themselves on the merits.

3. What are the penalties for unsafe turning from a private to public road in Las Vegas, Nevada?

In the City of Las Vegas, courts levy a $305 fine for violating NRS 484B.260.3 In the City of Reno, the fine is $170.4. In other Nevada cities and counties, the fine usually falls somewhere in that range.

4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?

Station wagon turning from private driveway to street
Drivers are supposed to yield to existing traffic when turning from a private way to a public highway.

It is very possible, particularly when the defendant has no or minimal prior traffic violations. And if the D.A.'s case is at all weak, the defense attorney may even be able to persuade the D.A. to dismiss the charge outright. 

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

Four (4) demerit points are the Nevada DMV penalty for making an unsafe turn from a driveway to a roadway. These points disappear after one (1) year.5

Note that accumulating twelve (12) or more demerit points results in a six (6)-month license suspension. Also note that the driver can contest the suspension at a DMV administrative hearing, which is like a trial but on a much smaller scale.6

6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?

Yes. Any moving violation no matter how minor usually causes an auto insurance premium hike. Therefore, people facing traffic charges of violating NRS 484B.260 should try to get the case reduced to a non-moving violation or dismissal to avoid insurance consequences.

7. Do I have to do traffic school?

It is usually not required. But the prosecutor may extend a plea deal whereby the charge will be reduced to a non-moving violation in exchange for the defendant completing a short online traffic class.7

8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?

Car on gravel driveway
Blowing off traffic tickets results in a bench warrant.

The judge will issue a bench warrant any time a Nevada traffic defendant misses court or is late on a fine payment. And the only way to get rid of the warrant is to have a court hearing where the defendant (or defense attorney) tries to persuade the judge that the defendant will not defy the court again. And there is no guarantee the judge will agree to "quash" the warrant.

Therefore, anyone slapped with a traffic ticket should either handle it promptly or hire an attorney to fight it. Otherwise, the defendant will get a bench warrant and risk getting arrested at any time.8

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

Commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) are subject to the same demerit point penalties as non-commercial licenses. Therefore, a commercial driver will have four (4) demerit points added to his/her CDL for unsafe turning.9

9.1. CDL Suspension

It is a "serious offense" under federal law to make improper traffic lane changes, which may include not yielding when turning from a private to public road. Convictions of two serious offenses within three years carry a 60-day CDL suspension. A third conviction within three years increases the CDL suspension to 120 days.10

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

It depends on the individual state's laws. Therefore, non-Nevadans should consult with an attorney in their home state to learn how their DMV may penalize their license.

11. When can I seal a Nevada conviction of unsafe turning from a private to public road?

Line of cars parked in driveway
Most traffic convictions can be sealed 1 year after the case ends.

A conviction can usually be sealed in Nevada once a full year passes after the case ends.11 But if the case gets dismissed, there is no waiting period to request a seal.12

12. Will I get deported?

No. Violating NRS 484B.260 is not a deportable offense. But immigrants facing any traffic charges should still meet with a criminal defense attorney to discuss their case since immigration law is always in a state of flux. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Remember that undocumented immigrants are susceptible to deportation at any time even if they do not commit a separate crime. Illegal aliens are advised to consult with a Nevada immigration attorney to learn if and how they may achieve legal residency in the U.S.

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

There is no downside to fighting the case, so fight. Chances are the prosecutor will agree to reduce the ticket to a non-moving violation, in which case the DMV and insurance company will not levy any penalties.

14. Can I go to trial?

Yes, people facing NRS 484B.260 charges are entitled to a bench trial (where a judge and not jury decides the verdict). But traffic trials are exceedingly rare since the D.A. is usually willing to settle the case.13

15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket?

Need? No. Should have? Definitely. Retaining an attorney has three main advantages:

Parked car with a person holding a key
A criminal defense attorney is often the key to a significant traffic charge reduction or dismissal.
  1. Attorneys are skilled in achieving the best plea deal possible.
  2. Prosecutors are more likely to extend plea deals to defendants who have attorneys.
  3. With rare exception, attorneys can appear in court in the defendant's place. This means defendants do not have to miss work for court.

16. If a driver causes an accident by unsafe turning, can I file a lawsuit?

Yes. Nevada law permits car accident victims (the plaintiffs) to sue the alleged culprit (the defendant) under the legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant may be found liable under negligence per se if:

  1. the defendant violated a statute (such as a traffic law);
  2. this violation caused an injury (such as an automobile collision); and
  3. the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as fellow drivers and passengers).14

In a negligence per se case, the judge may presume that the defendant breached his/her duty of care to the plaintiff. All the plaintiff has to prove is that the defendant's breach caused the accident and injuries.

Depending on the case, a good Las Vegas car accident attorney can recover compensatory damages to cover the victim's:

Even plaintiffs who were partially at fault could still be eligible for a large financial settlement. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.

17. Other traffic violations in Nevada

17.1. Unsafe passing (NRS 484B.203)

The Nevada crime of unsafe passing occurs when a driver does not leave sufficient space to pass a vehicle or does it at a dangerous speed. It is a misdemeanor carrying a $305 fine in the City of Las Vegas and four (4) demerit points. The fine doubles if it occurred in a work or pedestrian safety zone.15

17.2. Turning from the wrong lane (NRS 484B.400)

The Nevada crime of making an improper turn is a misdemeanor carrying a $305 fine and four (4) demerit points. There is no added penalty if the incident occurred in a work or pedestrian safety zone.16

17.3. Turning left without yielding (NRS 484B.253)

The Nevada crime of failure to yield before turning left is a misdemeanor carrying a $305 fine in the City of Las Vegas and four (4) demerit points. It makes no difference if the incident resulted in no collision.17

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

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

Were you cited for an unsafe turn in Nevada? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) want to help. Call us for a FREE consultation, and we will talk about how we will fight to get your citation dismissed or lessened to a non-moving violation.

Cited in California? Contact our Los Angeles traffic attorneys.

Cited in Colorado? Contact our Denver traffic attorneys.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 484B.260  Vehicle entering highway from private way.  The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from a private way shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on such highway.

    NRS 484A.095  “Highway” defined.  “Highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way dedicated to a public authority when any part of the way is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic, whether or not the public authority is maintaining the way.

    NRS 484A.190  “Private way” and “driveway” defined.  “Private way” or “driveway” means every way or place in private ownership and used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.

    Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV considers unsafe turning onto highways as "Failure to Yield Right of Way," Violation Code 421 or ACD Code N01.

  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 is for "Unsafe Turning Movement -- Lane Change" is 806.
  4. Reno Municipal Bail Schedule; the violation code for "Right of Way, On/Off Ramp" is 6.06.175(2).
  5. Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
  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. 49 CFR §383.51.
  11. NRS 179.245.
  12. NRS 179.255.
  13. Sixth Amendment.
  14. Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207, (Nev.,1983).
  15. Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines; Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
  16. Id.
  17. Id.

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