Nevada drivers caught texting while operating a vehicle or otherwise handling a cell phone face a $50 civil penalty for a first violation. But it is legal to use voice-activated technology such as Bluetooth to operate a cell phone’s text-messaging, internet and GPS capabilities hands-free.
The civil penalties for handling a wireless device behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in Nevada increase with each successive violation. And a second-time violation comes with four (4) Nevada demerit points on the person’s driver’s license. But it may be possible to get traffic infractions dismissed.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about texting while driving in Clark County and throughout Nevada, including how to build a defense, possible sentences, demerit points, bench warrants, record seals, and more. Click on a topic below to jump directly to that section:
- 1. Is texting while driving illegal in Nevada?
- 2. Can I use GPS-navigation while driving?
- 3. How do I fight the charges?
- 4. What are the penalties under NRS 484B.165?
- 5. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
- 6. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
- 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 records?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight my ticket?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
If you have been injured by a driver who was distracted by his/her cell phone, you may be entitled to hefty money damages. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to learn more.
1. Is texting while driving illegal in Nevada?
Yes. It is against Nevada law to manually type into a cell phone or other handheld wireless communication device while driving. This includes not just texting but also using one’s hand to surf the web, instant message, or operate apps.
Furthermore, it is illegal merely to read from a handheld device while driving, or to hold a phone up to one’s ear to speak while driving.
However, it is lawful in Nevada to use a cell phone hands-free in conjunction with a Bluetooth earpiece or similar voice-activated accessory. Therefore, drivers should take care never to physically handle their cell phone while behind the wheel. Instead, they should rely solely on a hands-free device to send texts, search the internet, or operate apps.
Nevada’s ban against handling a cell phone while driving does not apply to the following:
- A paid or volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician, advanced emergency medical technician, paramedic, ambulance attendant or other person trained to provide emergency medical services who is acting within the course and scope of his/her employment
- A law enforcement officer / police officer / peace officer or any person designated by a sheriff or chief of police or the Director of the Department of Public Safety who is acting within the course and scope of his/her employment.
- A person who is reporting a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity or who is requesting assistance relating to a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity.
- A person who is responding to a situation requiring immediate action to protect the health, welfare or safety of the driver or another person and stopping the vehicle would be inadvisable, impractical or dangerous.
- A person who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as an amateur radio operator and who is providing a communication service in connection with an actual or impending disaster or emergency, participating in a drill, test, or other exercise in preparation for a disaster or emergency or otherwise communicating public information.
- An employee or contractor of a public utility who uses a handheld wireless communications device (1) That has been provided by the public utility; and (2) While responding to a dispatch by the public utility to respond to an emergency, including, without limitation, a response to a power outage or an interruption in utility service.
And if the car is a lawfully-authorized self-driving vehicle, passengers in the “driver’s seat” may handle a cell phone.1
2. Can I use GPS-navigation while driving?
Yes, but the driver may not program the navigation system device while driving--the automobile would need to be in park. But the driver can use voice communications with the GPS while driving.
Drivers are allowed to mount (“affix”) a GPS device to the vehicle. But the device must not obstruct his/her view through the windshield of the highway.2
3. How do I fight the charges?
A defense attorney would try to compile as much evidence as possible that shows or suggests that the defendant was not handling a wireless device while driving. This evidence typically includes:
- the defendant’s phone records,
- surveillance video,
- photographs, and/or
As long as the D.A. has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the traffic law charge may be dismissed.
4. What are the penalties under NRS 484B.165?
Handling a wireless device while driving is a civil infraction in Nevada (not a misdemeanor). The penalties increase for each successive violation within a seven (7) year period:
|Texting while Driving violation||Civil penalty
|1st violation within a 7-year period||$50|
|2nd violation within a 7-year period||$100|
|3rd (or later) violation within a 7-year period||$250|
And if the violation allegedly occurred in a work zone, the court will double the “civil penalty”. Learn more about Nevada work zone penalties.3
(Note that civil infractions carry civil penalties, while crimes carry fines.)
4.1. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Yes. That is all the more reason to hire a good attorney to try to get the charged negotiated down to an inconsequential non-moving violation.
5. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
Perhaps. It really depends on the case, the available evidence, and what the prosecutor is willing to do.
6. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
A first-time violation of handling a wireless device behind the wheel carries no demerit points. But for a second or successive violation, the Nevada DMV will put four (4) points on the person’s driver’s license. These points stay on the person’s license for one (1) full year.
Note that accruing twelve (12) or more demerit points will result in a six (6) month license suspension.4
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
Usually the judge does not require traffic school.5
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
Defendants who miss court or civil penalty payments get a 30-day grace period before the the judge will issue a bench warrant. And if the defendant misses a payment, the judge may not issue a bench warrant until the defendant is given the option to do community service instead and then fails to do it.
Bench warrants can be recalled (“quashed”), but attorneys are the best people to handle this process. It involves writing and filing a “motion to quash” and asking for a hearing. And if the defendant hires an attorney, the attorney can go to court for him/her without the defendant having to show up (in most cases).6
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
A first-time violation will not have any effect on the person’s commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). But a second-time violation will add four (4) demerit points to the CDL. Additionally, CDL-holders are required to notify their employer about the texting while driving citation within thirty (30) days of the citation.7
9.1. CDL Suspension
Texting while behind the wheel is a “serious offense” according to federal law. The DMV will suspend a person’s CDL for 60 days if he/she commits two (2) “serious offenses” with a commercial vehicle within a three (3) year time frame. And for a third offense, the CDL suspension will last 120 days.8
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
It depends on the person’s home-state DMV, which may levy different penalties than the Nevada DMV. Out-of-state drivers accused of handling a wireless device in Nevada are advised to consult with counsel in their home state with questions about their driver’s license.
11. When can I seal my records?
The waiting period to get a conviction sealed in Nevada is one (1) year after the case closes.9 If the charge got dismissed, however, there is no waiting period.10
12. Will I get deported?
Texting or talking on the phone while driving without a hands-free device is not a deportable crime. But it is always very risky for non-citizens to face criminal charges, especially in this precarious political climate. All immigrants charged with traffic violations are encouraged to hire an attorney to help safeguard their resident status. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
13. Should I fight my ticket?
Even though it is easy just to pay the civil penalty and be done with the case, it makes sense to fight. Penalties for texting while behind the wheel increase with each successive conviction, so it is worth attempting to get the charge reduced so that the defendant will not face harsher penalties if he/she is caught in a “texting while driving” traffic incident again.
14. Can I go to trial?
15. Do I need an attorney?
Hiring an experienced attorney is never a bad idea in traffic ticket cases. In the vast majority of cases, attorneys can appear in court without the defendant having to show up as well. And prosecutors have a habit of extending better plea deals to attorneys than to traffic ticket defendants who do not have legal representation.
15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court “attorney sessions”
Las Vegas Metro hands out hundreds of traffic citations every day. In order to process these tickets quickly, Las Vegas Justice Court hosts biweekly “attorney sessions” on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where prosecutors and defense attorneys can meet and eke out plea deals and perhaps dismissals.
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Were you busted for texting while driving in Clark County or elsewhere in the state of Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to help. Call our law firm for a free consultation. Whether your case is for a repeat civil infraction or a first offense crime, our goal is to get your matter dismissed. If your case is in California, please visit our pages Vehicle Code 23123 & 23123.5 – handheld device tickets in California and Vehicle Code 23124 – driving with cell phone tickets for minors in California.
See our related articles on reckless driving (NRS 484B.653), illegal U-turns (NRS 484B.403), moped (motor-driven scooter) laws, motorcycle laws (including rules on reflectors and amber lights), driving faster than the posted speed limit (NRS 484B.600), DUI, failure to yield right-of-way during a left turn (NRS 484B.253), vehicular manslaughter (NRS 484B.657), failing to yield to traffic incidents (NRS 484B.607) – usually marked by an authorized emergency vehicle, crosswalk laws, driving through a safety zone (NRS 484B.110), child restraint laws, failure to stop at a red light (NRS 484B.307), failing to stop for a school bus (NRS 484B.353) seat belt laws (NRS 484D.495), improper right or left turns (NRS 484B.400).
If you suffered an injury because someone else was texting while operating a vehicle in Nevada, you may be owed money damages. Whether or not you were partly to blame for causing the accident, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys might be able to win you compensatory damages to pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of future earnings. And you pay nothing unless we win.
For cases in Colorado, please see our page on CRS 42-4-239 – texting and driving violations in Colorado.
- NRS 484D.435; NRS 484B.165; Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV refers to texting while driving as Using a wireless handheld communication device/cellular telephone, Violation Code 037 or ACD Code M86.
- NRS 484B.165; NRS 484B.130.
- 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.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- 49 CFR §383.51.
- NRS 179.245.
- Nevada Revised Statute 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.