There are various defenses that may persuade prosecutors to reduce or drop traffic charges, such as:
- The defendant did not break the law,
- There was an emergency,
- The safety zone was not properly marked, or
- The defendant was falsely accused.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. Can I drive through safety zones in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
- 5. How many points will go on my Nevada 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 Nevada commercial driver’s license?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal an infraction?
- 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
1. Can I drive through safety zones in Las Vegas, Nevada?
No. Nevada law prohibits vehicles from driving through “safety zones.” These are areas of road officially set aside for pedestrians’ exclusive use.
Safety zones are typically found near parks, universities and schools, fairgrounds, shopping centers, and special events. They are supposed to be plainly marked with signs so drivers know not to drive there.1
2. How do I fight the charges?
How to defend against a charge for driving through safety zones turns on the facts of the case and the available evidence: Some common defense strategies are:
- The driver never drove through the zone.
- An emergency forced the driver to drive through the zone.
- The driver is the victim of false allegations.
2.1. The driver never drove through the safety zone
Maybe the driver only got near the safety zone. Maybe the policeman was mistaken about where the zone started. Maybe it appeared from the policeman’s vantage point that the driver went through the zone, but in fact, the driver stayed on the regular road…
This is where a defense attorney would aggressively search for video surveillance and eyewitness testimony of the incident. If the defense attorney can show that the driver broke no law…or that there is insufficient evidence to show that the driver did break the law…then criminal charges cannot stand.
2.2. An emergency forced the driver to drive through a safety zone
Every driver has at one time or another been thrust into emergency situations where they had to swerve quickly to avoid an accident. Especially if there are careless pedestrians milling about near a safety zone, a driver may have to make the reasonable decision to drive onto a safety zone to avoid a collision.
Nevada’s “sudden emergency doctrine” lets defendants off the hook for civil liability (such as in a personal injury suit) if their reasonable actions caused them to violate the law.2 In criminal traffic cases such as driving through safety zones, prosecutors may be similarly willing to drop charges if the defendant’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances.
2.3. The driver is the victim of false accusations
It is a sad reality that innocent people are falsely accused all the time. Sometimes the motivation is anger, revenge, or an innocent misunderstanding. But the defense attorney’s job is to thoroughly investigate the case as well as the accuser’s credibility in an effort to show that the driver did nothing illegal.
Note that it is not a defense to NRS 484B.110 charges that the safety zone was empty of pedestrians. A driver can still face charges for driving through an empty safety zone.
3. What are the penalties?
In the City of Las Vegas, the civil penalty for driving through safety zones is $305.3 The civil penalty varies depending on the city and county.
As a civil infraction, driving through a safety zone can carry up to $500 in civil penalties.4
4. Can I get a charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
Every case is different, but yes in many cases. Most prosecutors are willing to offer a charge reduction unless the defendant has a long record of violating traffic laws..
5. How many points will go on my Nevada driver’s license?
Four (4) demerit points are the penalty that the DMV levies for driving through a safety zone.5 These points stay on the person’s license for a full year and then disappear.
The DMV imposes a six-month suspension on licenses that accumulate twelve (12) or more demerit points. Drivers can request a DMV hearing to contest the suspension, but it is recommended that they hire an attorney to appear for them.6
Do not drive if your license does get suspended. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.7
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Probably, yes. That is why criminal defense attorneys urge traffic defendants to fight their charges. If the ticket gets reduced to a non-moving violation, insurance should not be affected.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
It often depends on the court and the prosecutor in the case. Some judges let defendants pay a higher civil penalty in exchange for not doing traffic school. But sometimes defendants choose to do traffic school because it may cause their moving violation to be reduced to a non-moving violation. And in many cases, prosecutors offer favorable plea deals that require no traffic school at all.8
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
You have 90 days to pay. If you are late, you can be assessed an additional penalty. Plus your license can get suspended.9
9. What will happen to my Nevada commercial driver’s license?
The DMV add four (4) demerit points to a driver’s commercial license (CDLs) for driving onto a safety zone. The driver also has to inform his/her employer about the ticket within 30 days of the incident10
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
It depends on that state’s rules. Seek legal counsel with an attorney in the home state.
11. When can I seal an infraction?
Since infractions are civil and not criminal, they do not appear on your criminal record. (Though if you do not pay the financial penalty, a civil judgment can show up on your record.)
Infractions do show up on your driving record, which is unsealable.12
12. Will I get deported?
No. Minor traffic violations are not deportable offenses. However, the government is always coming out with new laws that affect immigration policy. So people who have been cited for a traffic violation should at least consult with an attorney to discuss how to safeguard their resident status.
13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the fine?
In most cases, it is a good idea to fight. Chances are decent that the D.A. will reduce the charge down to a non-moving violation or possibly a dismissal. And that would save the defendant from getting driver’s license demerit points and a car insurance rate increase.
14. Can I go to trial?
Yes, you can request a hearing to fight the case.13
15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket?
Anyone charged with a criminal defense should consider hiring private counsel. An attorney can:
- negotiate effectively with the D.A. since they have experience in how to score the best plea deals;
- appear in court in place of the defendant so the defendant does not have to take a day off from work or travel into town; and
- give the defendant an added air of legitimacy so that the D.A. will take the case more seriously and perhaps extend a more favorable plea deal.
Also, court is a scary place. Having an attorney makes the experience far less intimidating and helps the defendant feel more empowered in his/her rights.
16. If a driver causes an accident by driving through a safety zone, can I file a lawsuit?
Sure. Driving through a safety zone is negligent behavior. And if an accident results, then the driver should be held liable for any physical injuries or property damage.
Nevada law allows car accident victims (plaintiffs) to file suit against drivers who drove through a safety zone (the defendants) under the legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant is liable under negligence per se if:
- the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484B.110);
- this violation caused an injury (such as a car accident with pedestrians); and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as pedestrians on the safety zone).14
Oftentimes, it is simpler to prevail in a personal injury case for “negligence per se” instead of straight negligence. In a negligence per se lawsuit, the court does not have to deliberate over whether the defendant’s actions were reasonable or not; rather, the court may presume that the defendant was unreasonable. All the plaintiff has to prove is that the accident resulted from the defendant’s unreasonable conduct.
If the case goes to trial, our Las Vegas pedestrian knockdown attorneys would strive for the largest settlement possible to cover the victims’:
Note that most personal cases do not end with a trial. Most settle out of court. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Related traffic violations
- speeding in a work zone
- speeding in school zones
- texting and driving
- driving too slowly
- illegal U-turns
- unsafe passing
- failing to yield when turning left
- passing on the right side
- improper backing
- failure to signal
- turning from the wrong lane
- making an illegal right on red
- driving in a carpool lane
- running a stop sign
- 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
- disobeying an officer
- 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
- passing a stopped school bus
- not using a child car seat
Traffic ticket? Call a criminal defense attorney…
Were you cited for a traffic offense in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are here for you. Call us for a consult, and we can discuss how we will fight to get your charge dismissed or reduced. For cases in California, please see our page on Vehicle Code 21709 VC.
- NRS 484B.110 Driving through safety zone prohibited. No vehicle shall at any time be driven through or within a safety zone; NRS 484B.057 “Safety zone” defined. “Safety zone” means the area officially set aside within a highway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is so plainly marked or indicated by proper signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
- 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 1516.
- NRS 193.150. NRS 484B.110 violations are prosecuted as infractions. AB 116 (2021).
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the violation code for “Failure to Obey Safety Zone” is 403, and the ACD code is M12.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
- NRS 484B.560.
- See, for example, Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
- See also Nevada DMV Suspension Information Page. NRS 484C.7047.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- Nevada Official Driving Records Online, Nevada DMV.
- Sixth Amendment.
- Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207, (Nev., 1983).