Driving through a safety zone is a misdemeanor in Las Vegas. The penalties include a $305 fine and four (4) driver’s license demerit points in Nevada. Under Nevada law, defendants may seal a traffic conviction 1 year after the case ends.
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.
Most importantly, people with traffic citations are cautioned not to ignore them. If they do, they may find themselves the subject of a bench warrant. A driver should legal counsel as soon as possible after getting a ticket.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. Can I drive through safety zones 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. 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. As long as the D.A. has inadequate evidence to convince a court of the defendant’s guilt, there should be no guilty verdict.
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 for driving through safety zones in Las Vegas, Nevada?
In the City of Las Vegas, the fine for driving through safety zones is $305.3 The fine varies depending on the city and county.
As a misdemeanor, driving through a safety zone can carry up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to six (6) months in jail. But judges hardly ever sentence traffic defendants to jail.4
4. Can I get a charge reduced to a non-moving violation in Las Vegas, Nevada?
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.
In some cases, it may even be feasible to get the traffic case completely dismissed. Unless the prosecutors have enough solid evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the driver should not be convicted.
5. How many points will go on my Nevada driver’s license?
Four (4) demerit points are the penalty that the Nevada 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 fine 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?
After a 30-day grace period, Nevada judges issue bench warrants when a defendant fails to show up to court. And if they are late in paying a fine, they may be given the opportunity to do community service instead; but they will get a bench warrant if they fail to complete the service.
People with bench warrants are subject to arrest at any time and may be held without bail.
The only way courts recall (or “quash”) bench warrants is at a court hearing. The defense attorney tries to convince the judge that the defendant promises to address the ticket and to make all future court dates and fine payments. Unless the defendant has a history of defying court orders, judges usually quash bench warrants.9
9. What will happen to my Nevada commercial driver’s license?
The Nevada 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 a conviction for driving through a safety zone in Nevada?
People convicted of driving through a safety zone in Nevada are required to wait one (1) year after the case ends to pursue a seal of their criminal record.11 But if the citation was dismissed (meaning there was no guilty plea or verdict), then the record seal process can begin immediately.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. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
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?
Also note that traffic ticket trials are almost unheard of. Nearly all cases settle without litigation.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.
15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court “attorney sessions”
People cited for traffic violations within the unincorporated area of Las Vegas can usually get their ticket cases resolved within a few days. This is because Las Vegas Justice Court holds biweekly “attorney sessions” on Tuesdays and Thursdays where defense attorneys and deputy district attorneys can hammer out plea bargains.
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 in Nevada
- 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 Nevada 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 FREE 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 – driving through a pedestrian safety zone in California.
- 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 misdemeanors, not infractions. See, e.g., Police log: Oct 12, 2017, Elko Daily Free Press (May 12, 2017).
- 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, 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.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.
- Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207, (Nev.,1983).