A work zone in Nevada is a construction area where certain traffic violations carry double penalties. Some of these traffic offenses include:
- driving with an open container of alcohol
- texting while driving
- unsafe passing
- illegal U-turns
- reckless driving
Nevada law requires work zones to be marked with signs to alert drivers that they are entering or leaving the zones.
People convicted of certain traffic violations face double fine penalties if it occurred in work zones. For example, a speeding violation that would normally carry a $205 fine would be doubled to a $410 fine.
Depending on the case, a prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the charges if the defense attorney can show that either:
- there was insufficient signage (no notice),
- there was no work zone, or
- there was no traffic offense
No matter the circumstances, traffic defendants should be careful to handle their tickets in a timely manner. Otherwise, they risk getting a bench warrant and being arrested at any time.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. What are work zones in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced or dismissed?
- 5. How many points will go on my 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?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal my record?
- 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 Nevada
1. What are work zones in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Like it sounds, a work zone is a construction area on a roadway. It is also called a “temporary traffic control zone” because the construction is temporary, and the area will cease being a work zone once the construction or repair is complete.
Some work zones take up several lanes, require lots of workers and heavy machinery, and last for weeks or longer. Other work zones are on much a smaller scale with just a couple of workers with traffic cones working for a few hours. Either way, work zones are required to be signified by three signs:
- A sign located before the beginning of the work area stating “DOUBLE PENALTIES IN WORK ZONES”;
- A sign at the beginning of the zone; and
- A sign to mark the end of the zone1
There are usually additional traffic police patrolling the area as well.
1.1. Traffic violations in work zones
Nevada levies double penalties for drivers who commit certain traffic violations — such as speeding — while in work zones. So drivers who see an upcoming work zone sign should take care to drive extra carefully.
Specifically, there are 26 traffic crimes that carry double penalties if the incident occurred in a work zone. They are:
- Driving while drinking or with an open container of alcohol (NRS 484B.150)
- Obstructing the driver’s view (NRS 484B.163)
- Texting or talking on the phone while driving (NRS 484B.165)
- Driving on wrong side of highway (NRS 484B.200)
- Unsafe passing (NRS 484B.203)
- Unlawfully overtaking vehicle (NRS 484B.207)
- Unlawfully overtaking vehicle on right side (NRS 484B.210)
- Unlawfully overtaking vehicle on left side (NRS 484B.213)
- Unlawful left-hand turns (NRS 484B.217)
- Driving on highway with multiple marked lanes (NRS 484B.223)
- Driving on wrong side of divided highway (NRS 484B.227)
- Failure to obey traffic control devices, including running a red light (NRS 484B.300)
- Failure to obey “no right turn” or “no left turn” traffic devices (NRS 484B.303)
- Interfering with traffic devices or signs (NRS 484B.317)
- Interfering with traffic-control signals (NRS 484B.320)
- Removing highway barriers (NRS 484B.327)
- Failure to obey signal of authorized flagger (NRS 484B.330)
- Unlawful U-turns (NRS 484B.403)
- Driving on controlled-access highway (NRS 484B.587)
- Speeding (NRS 484B.600)
- Failure to decrease speed (NRS 484B.603)
- Aggressive driving (NRS 484B.650)
- Reckless driving or drag racing (NRS 484B.653)
- Vehicular manslaughter (NRS 484B.657)
- DUI (NRS 484C.110)
- Commercial DUI (NRS 484C.120)
Note that violating a traffic law in work zones is not a separate penalty from the underlying traffic offense. Rather, it is simply a penalty enhancement to the underlying offense. For instance, “speeding in a work zone” is just one offense, not two separate ones.2
2. How do I fight the charges?
How best to defend against work zone traffic violations turns on the circumstances of the incident. Some common defense strategies are:
- There was insufficient signage,
- The defendant was not in a work zone, or
- There was no traffic violation.
With all of these defenses, the most valuable evidence would include surveillance video, photographs, and/or eyewitnesses. As long as the D.A. lacks evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant should not be convicted.
2.1. The work zone lacked proper signage
Drivers should not be double-penalized for violating traffic laws in a construction zone if they have insufficient notice that they are in a construction zone. If the defense attorney can show that the work zone did not meet statutory signage requirements, the defendant should not face double penalties.
2.2. The traffic violation did not occur in the work zone
Perhaps the alleged traffic violation occurred shortly before entering or after leaving a construction zone, and the police officer mistakenly believed the defendant was still in the work zone. If the defense attorney can show that there was no work zone involved, then the court should not impose double penalties for the underlying traffic offense.
2.3. No traffic violation occurred
The most effective defense is for the defense attorney to show that the defendant did not commit the underlying traffic offense at all. If successful, then it does not matter where the location was. Once the underlying traffic allegation is dropped, the entire case should be dismissed because the work zone allegations are automatically moot.
3. What are the penalties for work zone traffic violations in Las Vegas, Nevada?
People convicted of one of the violations listed above in section 1 face double penalties if the incident occurred in a work zone. So a speeding ticket that normally carries a $205 fine would double to $410 if the defendant sped in a work zone.
Note that the total penalties for committing a traffic offense in a construction zone may not exceed:
- $1,000, and
- six (6) months in jail, and
- 120 hours of community service3
4. Can I get it reduced to a non-moving violation?
It is possible, especially if the person has no or few past traffic violations on his/her record. But the defendant may have to pay higher fines than in cases where the incident did not occur in a work zone.
5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
Nevada law is unclear about whether traffic violations in work zones carry double Nevada driver’s license demerit point penalties.4
Demerit points remain on driver’s licenses for one (1) year before disappearing for good. Accumulating 12 or more points causes an automatic six (6)-month license suspension. But it may be possible to fight the suspension at a DMV Administrative Hearing, which is similar to a trial.5
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Yes, though the rate increase is due to the underlying traffic offense and not that it allegedly occurred in a work zone. Any moving violation will result in increased car insurance premiums whether or not a work zone was involved.
If the traffic violation gets dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation, however, the insurance company probably will not increase the premiums.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
It depends on the case. Judges usually give defendants the option of just paying a fine in exchange for closing the case. But some defendants may choose to do traffic school as a way to reduce the charge to a non-moving violation and to avoid getting demerit points.6
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
After a 30-day grace period, defendants who miss court or fine payments will find themselves with a bench warrant. Defendants late on fine payments will get the opportunity to do community service instead, but they will still get a bench warrant if they fail to complete the service.
And once there is a bench warrant issued, the judge will not recall it unless the defendant (or his/her defense attorney) appears in court to request that the warrant be “quashed.” Therefore, defendants are advised to hire an attorney as soon as they get a ticket to handle the case.7
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
The defendant’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) will receive the same number of demerit points as his/her non-commercial license. So a commercial driver who sped ten mph above the limit in a work zone should have two (2) demerit points added to both his/her CDL and non-CDL.8
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
Consult with an attorney in the home state. Every DMV has different rules and regulations. In many cases, the home state DMV will treat the person’s license as if the alleged traffic violation occurred there and not in Nevada.
11. When can I seal the records?
It depends on the underlying traffic offense. Most traffic convictions such as speeding can be sealed one (1) year after the case ends. The main exception is a misdemeanor DUI conviction, which carries a seven (7)-year record seal waiting period.9
Note that the record seal waiting period does not double if the incident occurred in a work zone. Also note that if the entire case gets dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a record seal right away.10
Learn more about Nevada criminal record seals.
12. Will I get deported?
Probably not. Deportable offenses do not comprise most traffic matters, even if they occurred in work zones…
But any immigrant facing criminal charges should still consult with an experienced attorney to discuss the case. This is especially true if the underlying traffic offense was of a more serious nature, such as reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter.
Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the fine?
In the vast majority of cases, it pays to fight. If the D.A. agrees to reduce or dismiss the charges, the defendant may be able to avoid getting demerit points and insurance rate increases.
14. Can I go to trial?
It is rare for traffic matters to go to trial, but defendants always have that option if they prefer not to plea bargain. Note that defendants facing misdemeanor charges (which comprise most traffic matters) are entitled only to a bench trial, where a judge and not a jury decides the verdict.11
15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket?
Here are three reasons why it is a great idea to lawyer up:
- Attorneys have negotiation skills and are well-equipped to achieve good plea deals;
- Attorneys can come to court in place of the defendant, which relieves defendants from needing to take time off of work or travel to Nevada for court; and
- Prosecutors are known to give better plea deals to defendants who are represented by attorneys.
16. If a driver causes an accident in a work zone, can I file a lawsuit?
Yes. Victims of automobile accidents in Nevada may have a viable negligence per se claim. A defendant is liable under negligence per se if the following are true:
- the defendant violated a statute;
- this violation caused an injury; and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect.12
Ideally, accident cases resolve out of court with a large settlement for the victim. Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys would fight for more than enough money damages to cover a victim’s:
But if the defendant refuses to offer a good settlement, our attorneys can fight at trial for hefty compensatory damages as well as punitive damages. Even if the victim was partially to blame for the accident, the court can still award substantial money damages under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Related traffic violations in Nevada
17.1. Speeding in a school zone (NRS 484B.363)
The Nevada crime of speeding in a school zone is a misdemeanor that usually carries a $410 fine in Las Vegas. The demerit point penalty turns on how far above the speeding limit the defendant was allegedly driving.13
17.2. Disobeying a traffic officer (NRS 484B.100)
The Nevada crime of willfully defying a traffic officer is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines as well as four (4) demerit points. The typical fine in Las Vegas is $305.14
17.3. Removing highway barriers (NRS 484B.327)
The Nevada crime of removing a highway barrier or driving on a closed highway is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. The penalty is doubled if it occurs in a work zone.15
Facing criminal charges? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
If you have been cited for a traffic ticket in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys.
Cited in California? Contact our Los Angeles traffic attorneys.
Cited in Colorado? Contact our Denver traffic attorneys.
- NRS 484B.130 Double penalty for certain traffic violations committed in work zones; exception in certain temporary traffic control zones. 1. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 2 and 6, a person who is convicted of a violation of a speed limit, or of NRS 484B.150, 484B.163, 484B.165, 484B.200 to 484B.217, inclusive, 484B.223, 484B.227, 484B.300, 484B.303, 484B.317, 484B.320, 484B.327, 484B.330, 484B.403, 484B.587, 484B.600, 484B.603, 484B.650, 484B.653, 484B.657, 484C.110 or 484C.120, that occurred:(a) In an area designated as a temporary traffic control zone; and(b) At a time when the workers who are performing construction, maintenance or repair of the highway or other work are present, or when the effects of the act may be aggravated because of the condition of the highway caused by construction, maintenance or repair, including, without limitation, reduction in lane width, reduction in the number of lanes, shifting of lanes from the designated alignment and uneven or temporary surfaces, including, without limitation, modifications to road beds, cement-treated bases, chip seals and other similar conditions,
–> shall be punished by imprisonment or by a fine, or both, for a term or an amount equal to and in addition to the term of imprisonment or amount of the fine, or both, that the court imposes for the primary offense. Any term of imprisonment imposed pursuant to this subsection runs consecutively with the sentence prescribed by the court for the crime. This subsection does not create a separate offense, but provides an additional penalty for the primary offense, whose imposition is contingent upon the finding of the prescribed fact.
2. The additional penalty imposed pursuant to subsection 1 must not exceed a total of $1,000, 6 months of imprisonment or 120 hours of community service.
3. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 5, a governmental entity that designates an area or authorizes the designation of an area as a temporary traffic control zone in which construction, maintenance or repair of a highway or other work is conducted, or the person with whom the governmental entity contracts to provide such service, shall cause to be erected:
(a) A sign located before the beginning of such an area stating “DOUBLE PENALTIES IN WORK ZONES” to indicate a double penalty may be imposed pursuant to this section;
(b) A sign to mark the beginning of the temporary traffic control zone; and
(c) A sign to mark the end of the temporary traffic control zone.
4. A person who otherwise would be subject to an additional penalty pursuant to this section is not relieved of any criminal liability because signs are not erected as required by subsection 3 if the violation results in injury to any person performing highway construction or maintenance or other work in the temporary traffic control zone or in damage to property in an amount equal to $1,000 or more.
5. The requirements of subsection 3 do not apply to an area designated as a temporary traffic control zone:
(a) Pursuant to an emergency which results from a natural or other disaster and which threatens the health, safety or welfare of the public; or
(b) On a public highway where the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less and that provides access to or is appurtenant to a residential area.
6. A person who would otherwise be subject to an additional penalty pursuant to this section is not subject to an additional penalty if the violation occurred in a temporary traffic control zone for which signs are not erected pursuant to subsection 5, unless the violation results in injury to any person performing highway construction or maintenance or other work in the temporary traffic control zone or in damage to property in an amount equal to $1,000 or more.
- National Work Zone Awareness Week a Reminder to Drive Safely, Nevada DOT (April 8, 2016).
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
- 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).
- NRS 484B.363.
- NRS 484B.100.
- NRS 484B.327.