Nevada punishes disobeying a traffic officer as a misdemeanor carrying 4 driver’s license demerit points in Nevada. The fine in Las Vegas is $305, but it varies throughout the state. Traffic convictions must remain on the defendant’s criminal record for a full year before he/she can pursue a record seal.
It may be possible to fight a charge on the merits for violating NRS 484B.100. Possible defenses include:
- The defendant did not act deliberately,
- There was an emergency, or
- The defendant did his/her best to comply with the cop’s orders
Even though traffic tickets are minor matters, judges do not hesitate in issuing bench warrants to people who blow off their tickets. So it is advised that traffic defendants hire an attorney as soon as possible to handle the case.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. Is it a crime to disobey traffic directions from a cop in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties in Las Vegas, NV?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, NV?
- 5. How many points will go on my NV driver’s license?
- 6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
- 7. Do I have to do traffic school?
- 8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
- 9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license in NV?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal a conviction in Las Vegas, NV?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight my ticket or just pay the fine?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
- 16. If a driver causes an accident, can I file a lawsuit?
- 17. Related traffic violations in NV
1. Is it a crime to disobey traffic directions from a cop in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Yes. Under NRS 484B.100, Nevada law makes it illegal to willfully refuse to comply with police when they give a traffic order. Even when the cop’s directions contradict traffic signs and signals, drivers are required to follow the cop’s commands. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
Example: Howard is approaching a Las Vegas intersection where a traffic cop is holding a Stop sign and signaling with his hand to stop. Howard is in a rush, so he yields slightly but does not stop before continuing through the intersection. The cop signals to a colleague that Howard committed a traffic violation, and the colleague pulls Howard over and cites him for disobeying an officer (as well as for driving through a stop sign).
Note that it does not matter in the above example that Howard did not cause an accident by disobeying the cop. Nor does it matter that there is normally no stop sign at that intersection. Howard can still face prosecution under NRS 484B.100 for deliberately ignoring the cop’s order to stop.1
2. How do I fight the charges?
How best to defend against a charge of disobeying an officer turns on the facts of the case and the available evidence: Some common defense strategies are:
- The driver did not act willfully.
- The driver was acting out of necessity.
- The driver complied with the officer’s orders.
2.1. The driver did not act willfully
A driver violates NRS 484B.100 only if he/she “willfully” refused to comply with the police’s orders or directions.2 A driver is not acting willfully if:
- the driver did not notice the officer,
- the car malfunctioned,
- the driver lost control of the car, and/or
- the driver had a medical episode that left him/her unable to comply with the officer
Depending on the circumstances, valuable evidence for the defendant might include his/her medical records, car maintenance records, surveillance video, and eyewitnesses. As long as the prosecution’s case is too weak to sustain a guilty verdict, the charge should be dropped.
2.2. The driver was acting out of necessity
Occasionally drivers are faced with unexpected emergencies that force them to break traffic laws in order to avoid an accident. Perhaps a nearby car swerved unexpectedly. Perhaps there is dangerous debris on the road. Or perhaps there is inclement weather making driving conditions dangerous.
Either way, the driver is in the best position to judge what to do in order to escape a calamitous situation. And sometimes it is necessary to defy police to ensure their own safety.
In personal injury civil lawsuits, defendants are not held liable for damages caused by a traffic violation if the defendant reacted reasonably to an emergency situation. This is called the “sudden emergency doctrine.”3 Similarly, in criminal traffic cases, it may be possible to persuade prosecutors to drop charges if the defendant’s actions were a reasonable reaction to an emergency.
2.3. The driver complied with the officer’s orders
Police are very busy and sometimes make mistakes. Perhaps the defendant did comply with the police’s orders, and the police simply did not see it or mistook the defendant for another driver who did violate their orders.
A defense attorney would try to compile any available surveillance video and eyewitness testimony to show that the defendant followed the cop’s directions. And if the defense attorney can show that the D.A.’s case is not strong enough to prove guilt, the case should be dismissed.
3. What are the penalties for disobeying a cop in Las Vegas, Nevada?
In the City of Las Vegas, the fine for disobeying a traffic officer is $305.4 Different cities and counties throughout Nevada impose different fines. For example, the fine in the City of Reno is $220.5
Violating NRS 484B.110 is technically a misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six (6) months in jail. But judges very rarely hand down a jail sentence to traffic defendants.6
4. Can I get a charge reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Usually yes, unless the defendant has a long history of traffic violations. And if the defendant’s case is strong, it may even be possible to get the charge totally dismissed.
5. How many points will go on my Nevada driver’s license?
Disobeying an officer’s traffic directions carries four (4) demerit points.7 The Nevada DMV keeps these points on a person’s license for one year, and then it takes the points away.
If a driver ever accrues twelve (12) points on his/her driver’s license, the license will go into suspension for six months. The only way to contest this suspension is through a DMV hearing, which is similar to a trial.8
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. So people with suspended licenses are cautioned not to drive and to hire an attorney to try to fight the suspension.9
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Unfortunately, yes. But if the charge gets reduced to a non-moving violation or a dismissal, there should be no rate hikes.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
It is usually not required. But some defendants choose to do traffic school in order to pay a lower fine or to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation. In the ideal situation, the defense attorney can negotiate a charge reduction or dismissal with no traffic school requirements.10
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
As soon as a Nevada traffic defendant misses a fine payment or a court date, the judge will issue a bench warrant for his/her arrest. And the only way to recall (“quash”) the warrant is to request a court hearing.
It is highly recommended that people with bench warrants rely on attorneys to appear at “motion to quash” hearings. Defense attorneys can usually appear at these hearings without the defendant having to show up (and risk getting taken into custody).11
9. What will happen to my Nevada commercial driver’s license?
Four (4) demerit points are added to a defendant’s commercial driver’s license (CDLs) for disobeying a cop’s orders. In addition, the defendant has 30 days to inform his/her employer about the citation.12
9.1. CDL Suspension
Federal law considers it a “railroad-high-way grade crossing offense” to disobey a traffic officer. Commercial drivers who are convicted of this offense face mandatory CDL license suspension. And the period of suspension increases with each successive conviction: 13
|Disobeying a traffic officer||CDL License suspension period|
|1st offense||60 days|
|2nd “railroad-high-way grade crossing offense” offense within 3 years||120 days|
|3rd “railroad-high-way grade crossing offense” offense within 3 years||1 year|
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
In many cases, the defendant’s home-state DMV will impose the same penalties that it would if the citation occurred in that state. But consult with an attorney in that state for more specific information.
11. When can I seal a conviction for disobeying a cop in Nevada?
Once one (1) full year passes after the case ends, the defendant may pursue getting his/her criminal record sealed.14
Note that there is no waiting period to pursue a record seal if the case gets dismissed (which means there was no guilty verdict or guilty plea).15
12. Will I get deported?
No. Deportable offenses do not include minor traffic matters. Still, immigrants slapped with a traffic citation should consult with an attorney to make sure no recent changes in immigration law will threaten their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the fine?
Even though fighting the case may draw out the matter for a few weeks, it is still usually worth it. Traffic defendants who fight their tickets often receive favorable plea deals, including charge reductions or possibly dismissals. And a little extra time and effort are worth not getting any driver’s license demerit points or car insurance rate increases.
14. Can I go to trial?
If necessary, defendants accused of a traffic offense may request a bench trial (where the judge decides the verdict). But it is very rare for traffic ticket cases to make it to trial. Almost always, the defense and prosecutor can agree on a plea deal.16
15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket?
There are three reasons why it is a good idea to lawyer up:
- Attorneys have effective negotiation skills and are better equipped to achieve beneficial plea deals;
- Attorneys can appear in court in place of the defendant, which relieves defendants from having to take the morning off of work or travel into Nevada for court; and
- Prosecutors tend to extend better plea deals to defendants who are represented by counsel.
15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court “attorney sessions”
For people issued a citation within Las Vegas’s unincorporated areas, Las Vegas Justice Court holds biweekly “attorney sessions” on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The sole purpose of these sessions is to negotiate traffic tickets cases. Since these attorney sessions occur so frequently, these defendants can usually get their traffic ticket cases resolved within a few days.
16. If a driver causes an accident by disobeying a traffic officer, can I file a lawsuit?
Absolutely, an accident victim may sue the driver under the Nevada legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant is liable under negligence per se if:
- the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484B.100);
- this violation caused an injury (such as a car accident); and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as fellow drivers sharing the road).17
It is usually easier for victims to win a “negligence per se” case instead of a standard negligence case Negligence per se suits allow the court to presume the defendant was acting unreasonably. So the plaintiff’s main task is to prove that the defendant’s unreasonable conduct was the cause of his/her injuries.
Most cases settle out of court. Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys would fight for a large settlement to cover the victims’:
But if necessary, our attorneys are ready to take the case to trial in pursuit of hefty compensatory damages and punitive damages. The victim may even be eligible for damages if he/she partially caused the accident. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Related traffic violations in Nevada
- speeding in a work zone
- speeding in school zones
- texting and driving
- driving too slowly
- illegal U-turns
- improper backing
- unsafe passing
- passing on the right side
- failure to signal
- failing to yield when turning left
- turning from the wrong lane
- making an illegal right turn on red
- driving in a carpool lane
- driving through a safety zone
- running a red light
- failure to dim high beams
- failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
- failure to yield to tow trucks
- failure to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks
- no duty of care to bicyclists
- no duty of care to pedestrians
- not obeying school crossing guards
- not wearing a seatbelt
- removing highway barriers
- not wearing a motorcycle helmet
- not using a child car seat
- passing a stopped school bus
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consult to discuss how we may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed with no traffic school, demerit points, or insurance rate increases.
- NRS 484B.100 Obedience to a police officer. It is unlawful for any person willfully to fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer while the officer is performing the duties of the officer in the enforcement of chapters 484A to 484E, inclusive, of NRS
- 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.”).
- Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule and Sentencing Guidelines; the violation code is 400.
- Reno Municipal Bail Schedule; the violation code is 6.06.010A.
- NRS 193.150. NRS 484B.100 violations are prosecuted as misdemeanors, not infractions. See, e.g., Police log: Oct 12, 2017, Elko Daily Free Press (October 13, 2017).
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the violation code for Failure to Obey Police or Peace Officer is 449, and the ACD code is M08.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
- NRS 484B.560.
- See, e.g., Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
- 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.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- 49 CFR §383.51.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.
- Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207, (Nev.,1983).