Passing a vehicle on the right side is a traffic violation in Nevada (with some exceptions). For instance, passing on the right-hand side is usually illegal in the following situations:
- on two-lane roads, or
- if passing on the right would require the driver to go over an unpaved road
The fine varies depending on location. In the City of Las Vegas, the ticket is $305.
No matter the jurisdiction, the fine doubles if the incident occurred in a work zone or pedestrian zone.
It is often possible to get traffic ticket charges reduced to a non-moving violation or even dismissed. Typical defenses are:
- The defendant was being safe and law-abiding,
- There was an emergency, or
- Someone falsely accused the defendant
It is important to handle traffic citations in a timely manner. Otherwise, the defendant risks getting a bench warrant. So it is vital to retain legal counsel to handle the ticket.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. Is passing on the right side illegal in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
- 5. How many points will go on my 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?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal a conviction?
- 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. Other traffic violations
1. Is passing on the right illegal in Nevada?
It depends on the situation. Passing vehicles on the left is the default traffic rule in Nevada, but passing on the right is lawful in any of the following four circumstances:
- on one-way roads when there is enough width for two vehicles; or
- the driver of the vehicle being passed is making a left turn (or signaling to make a left turn); or
- the road has at least two lanes moving in the same direction; or
- the road’s shoulder is sufficiently wide for the passing car, and
- the passing driver travels a maximum of 200 feet on the shoulder, or
- the shoulder is not part of an intersection or highway exit or entrance
Meanwhile, passing on the right is unlawful in the following situations:
- on two-lane roads, or
- if passing on the right would require the driver to go over unpaved road1
2. How do I fight the charges?
The most effective defenses to Nevada charges of illegal passing on the right hinge on the specific facts of the case. Three common defense strategies include:
- The driver acted legally and safely
- The driver was in an emergency situation and acted reasonably
- The driver was falsely accused
2.1. The driver acted legally and safely
Sometimes safety is subjective. What seems hazardous to one traffic officer could appear lawful to another.
A defense attorney would work to uncover surveillance video and eyewitnesses in order to show that the driver executed the pass legally and safely. If the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant passed illegally, the case should be dismissed.
2.2. The driver was in an emergency situation and acted reasonably
Close-calls happen on roads all the time. Drivers may succumb to a seizure, or perhaps debris falls from a truck, or a traffic light falls down. Either way, drivers faced with these unexpected situations might have to carry out an impromptu and risky car passing in an effort to avoid an accident.
Under Nevada’s “sudden emergency doctrine,” drivers are relieved from civil liability when they act reasonably in unexpected conditions.2 Depending on the traffic case, this doctrine can possibly protect quick-thinking drivers from criminal liability as well. If the defense attorney can make a good argument that any reasonable person in the defendant’s situation would have reacted in a similar manner, the charge for unlawfully passing on the right may be dropped.
2.3. The driver was falsely accused
Road rage is a common phenomenon, and each day motorists have meltdowns and hurl false allegations at others over minor occurrences. In these situations, surveillance video and eyewitness testimony would be valuable in proving that the accuser is lying (or mistaken).
Note that most traffic cases involve little litigation where the defendant is called to defend him/herself on the merits. Oftentimes, the defense and D.A. can work out a favorable deal with no need to undertake an extensive investigation.
3. What are the penalties for unlawful passing on the right side in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Making an unlawful right-hand pass in the City of Las Vegas carries a $305 fine.3 The amount is usually less in other jurisdictions, though. In the City of Reno, for example, the fine for unlawfully passing a car on the right $115.4
As a misdemeanor, unlawful passing on the right carries a maximum sentence of $1,000 and/or six (6) months in jail. But it is very rare for a court to impose jail for traffic tickets.5
3.1. Unsafe passing in a work zone or pedestrian zone
Nevada law imposes double penalties for unlawful right-hand passing if the incident occurred in a work zone or a pedestrian safety zone. So a ticket that normally carries a $305 fine would double to $610 if the alleged passing happened in a construction area or a zone designated for pedestrians.
Note that work zones and pedestrian safety zones are supposed to be marked with signage so that motorists have notice that violating traffic laws carries double penalties. In the event that these signs are missing, a defense attorney can argue that any double penalty fines should be lifted since the driver was deprived of notice.6
4. Can I get a charge for passing on the right reduced to a non-moving violation?
Usually yes, especially if the defendant has a clean criminal record. And if the defendant’s case is strong, the defense attorney may even be able to get the charge not just reduced but totally dismissed.
5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
The Nevada DMV adds four (4) demerit points to a defendant’s license for illegally passing on the right-hand side.7 After one year passes, the demerit points disappear.
Note that accumulating twelve (12) or more demerit points results in a six-month license suspension. It could be possible to fight the suspension at a DMV administrative hearing, which is similar to a trial.8
Note that driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.9
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Yes, moving violations usually do cause insurance companies to increase premiums. But if the defense attorney manages to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation or dismissed, there should be no insurance penalties.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
Sometimes, prosecutors offer plea deals that require no traffic school. Other times, judges allow defendants to pay higher fines in exchange for not doing traffic school. Many times, traffic school is the only way to get illegal passing charges lessened to a non-moving violation, which carries no demerit points or insurance rate increases.10
Of course, the ideal scenario is for the defense attorney to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charges with no penalties whatsoever.
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
Judges issue bench warrants to traffic defendants who miss court or do not pay their fines on time, though there is a 30-day grace period. Defendants late on their payments can do community service instead, but they will get a bench warrant if they fail to do the community service.
Once a bench warrant is issued, the defendant can be arrested at any time and held without bail.
The only way to recall (“quash”) a bench warrant is to submit a motion with the court to quash the warrant and to request a hearing. If the judge at the hearing agrees to give the defendant another chance and to quash the warrant, the defendant must be careful not to miss another court deadline or fine payment. Otherwise, the judge will issue another warrant and may not be willing to recall it again.11
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
The Nevada DMV will add four (4) demerit points to a driver’s commercial license (CDL) for illegally passing on the right.12
9.1. CDL Suspension
Federal law considers unsafe passing to be a “serious offense.” Commercial drivers who commit two serious offenses within three years will have their CDL suspended for 60 days. A third conviction within three years carries a 120-day CDL suspension.13
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
The best course of action is to consult with a lawyer in the home state to see if and how the DMV will penalize the person’s license. Usually, DMVs hand down the same penalties as they would if the passing violation took place in the home state.
11. When can I seal a conviction for unlawful passing?
People convicted of illegally passing on the right side in Nevada are required to wait one (1) year after the case closes to petition the court to seal the record.14
Note that if the traffic charge gets dismissed, then there is no waiting period to petition to begin the record seal process.15
12. Will I get deported?
No, legal aliens will not get deported for passing on the right side. The list of deportable offenses does not include minor traffic offenses.
But considering the current political climate, all immigrants are advised to seek legal counsel whenever they are facing criminal charges to make sure their resident status will not be affected.
13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the fine?
In most cases, fight it because the prosecutor will probably extend a favorable plea deal without much resistance. The few extra days or weeks it takes to challenge a ticket is worth possibly not getting demerit points or insurance rate increases.
14. Can I go to trial?
Trials for small traffic offenses hardly ever happen, but the defendant is entitled to one. But because the stakes are so low, the proceeding would be a bench trial (where the judge decides the verdict) and not a jury trial.16
15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket?
Lawyering up provides defendants three main advantages:
- The D.A. usually gives better plea deals to traffic defendants who have counsel;
- Defense attorneys are skilled in negotiating favorable plea bargains with prosecutors; and
- Defendants who hire attorneys never have to appear in court (in most cases), which means they will not have to miss work.
15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court “attorney sessions”
In an effort to expedite traffic matters, Las Vegas Justice Court holds biweekly “attorney sessions” on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Here, defense attorneys and prosecutors can negotiate deals for tickets issued within Las Vegas’s unincorporated city limits. The benefit of attorney sessions is that it allows traffic matters to get resolved soon after the alleged incident.
16. If a driver causes an accident by unlawfully passing on the right side, can I file a lawsuit?
Yes. The victim in the accident (“plaintiff”) could have a viable claim under the Nevada legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant can be civilly liable under negligence per se if:
- the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484B.207);
- this violation caused an injury (such as a car accident and pedestrian knockdown); and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as fellow people sharing the road).17
As opposed to regular negligence cases, “negligence per se” cases allow the court to presume that the defendant breached his/her duty of care. So the plaintiff just has to prove that his/her injuries resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.
Ideally, personal injury cases settle without a trial. Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys attempt to negotiate the largest settlement possible to cover the defendant’s:
If negotiations are not fruitful, however, our attorneys will fight for the victim at trial in pursuit of the largest compensatory damages and punitive damages the court can give. Even if the victim partly contributed to the accident, he/she might still be eligible for hefty money damages. Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Other traffic violations
17.1. Failure to signal (NRS 484B.413)
Failing to signal before changing lanes or making a turn is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The fine in the City of Las Vegas is $205. And the DMV levies one (1) demerit point.18
17.2. Tailgating (NRS 484B.127)
Following a car too closely is a misdemeanor in Nevada. It makes no difference if the tailgating does not result in an accident. The fine in the City of Las Vegas is $305. And the DMV levies four (4) demerit points.19
17.3. Unsafe backing (NRS 484B.113)
Backing up a vehicle in an unsafe manner is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The fine in the City of Las Vegas is $205, and the DMV levies two (2) demerit points. 20
For a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
For a consultation, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys. We may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed with no traffic school, demerit points penalties, or insurance rate hikes.
Cited in California? Contact our Los Angeles traffic attorneys.
Cited in Colorado? Contact our Denver traffic attorneys.
- NRS 484B.207 Overtaking vehicle on left side: Duties of drivers of overtaking and overtaken vehicle; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone. 1. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.2. Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle upon observing the overtaking vehicle or hearing a signal. The driver of an overtaken vehicle shall not increase the speed of the vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.3. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to any additional penalty set forth in NRS 484B.130 or 484B.135.NRS 484B.210 When overtaking on right side allowed; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone.1. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:(a) When the driver of the vehicle overtaken is making or signaling to make a left turn.(b) Upon a highway with unobstructed pavement which is not occupied by parked vehicles and which is of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction.(c) Upon a highway with unobstructed pavement which is not marked as a traffic lane and which is not occupied by parked vehicles, if the vehicle that is overtaking and passing another vehicle:(1) Does not travel more than 200 feet in the section of pavement not marked as a traffic lane; or
(2) While being driven in the section of pavement not marked as a traffic lane, does not travel through an intersection or past any private way that is used to enter or exit the highway.
(d) Upon any highway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the highway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
2. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.
3. The driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right when such movement requires driving off the paved portion of the highway.
4. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to any additional penalty set forth in NRS 484B.130 or 484B.135.
NRS 484B.213 Limitations on overtaking on left side; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone.
1. A vehicle must not be driven to the left side of the center of a two-lane, two-directional highway and overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken.
2. A vehicle must not be driven to the left side of the highway at any time:
(a) When approaching the crest of a grade or upon a curve in the highway where the driver’s view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction.
(b) When approaching within 100 feet or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing.
(c) When the view is obstructed upon approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct or tunnel.
3. Subsection 2 does not apply upon a one-way highway.
4. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to any additional penalty set forth in NRS 484B.130 or 484B.135.
NRS 484B.217 Zones in which overtaking on left side or making left-hand turn prohibited; exceptions; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone.
1. The Department of Transportation with respect to highways constructed under the authority of chapter 408 of NRS, and local authorities with respect to highways under their jurisdiction, may determine those zones of highways where overtaking and passing to the left or making a left-hand turn would be hazardous, and may by the erection of official traffic-control devices indicate such zones. When such devices are in place and clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person, every driver of a vehicle shall obey the directions thereof.
2. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 3 and 4, a driver shall not drive on the left side of the highway within such zone or drive across or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark such zone throughout its length.
3. A driver may drive across a pavement striping marking such zone to an adjoining highway if the driver has first given the appropriate turn signal and there will be no impediment to oncoming or following traffic.
4. Except where otherwise provided, a driver may drive across a pavement striping marking such a zone to make a left-hand turn if the driver has first given the appropriate turn signal in compliance with NRS 484B.413, if it is safe and if it would not be an impediment to oncoming or following traffic.
5. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to any additional penalty set forth in NRS 484B.130 or 484B.135.
- 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 & Sentencing Guidelines; The violation codes is 604.
- Reno Municipal Bail Schedule; the violation code is 6.06.125B.
- NRS 193.150. NRS 484B.203 violations are prosecuted as misdemeanors, not infractions. See, for example, Man charged with 12 felonies, misdemeanors, The Record-Courier, (August 31, 2012).
- NRS 484B.130; NRS 484B.135.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
- 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.
- NRS 173.155; see, for example, 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).
- Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines; Nevada DMV Violation Codes.