Drivers suspected of hitting a pedestrian by “failing to exercise due care” in Nevada face reckless driving charges. Depending on the case, penalties range from fines and community service to incarceration.
Reckless driving causes eight (8) demerit points to go on the person’s driver’s license. And penalties for “failing to exercise due care” may double if the incident happened in a pedestrian safety zone.
It is usually possible to get Nevada traffic charges reduced or dismissed. People who ignore their traffic charges will have a bench warrant issued for their arrest, so it is important they consult with an attorney as soon as possible about how to handle their cases.
Note that failing to exercise due care for pedestrians without causing a collision can be cited as a civil infraction, carrying only a civil penalty.
In this article our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about the laws for exercising due care towards a pedestrian in Clark County and throughout Nevada, including ways to fight the charges, possible sentences, demerit points, and record seals. Click on a topic below to jump to that section:
- 1. What is “failing to exercise due care towards a pedestrian” in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties for hitting a pedestrian by “failing to exercise due care” in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 4. Can I get my charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
- 5. How many points will it put on my license?
- 6. Will my auto insurance premiums go up?
- 7. Do I have to do traffic school?
- 8. What will happen if I ignore my case?
- 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 get my case sealed?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight my charge or just plead guilty?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
If you were a pedestrian injured by a driver, you may be entitled to money damages. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to learn more.
1. What is “failing to exercise due care towards a pedestrian” in Nevada?
Nevada traffic law requires drivers to “exercise due care” to avoid collisions with pedestrians. This comprises the driver giving an audible warning with the horn when necessary to avoid a collision. This also requires drivers to be cautious when observing a pedestrian:
- on or near a highway, street or road;
- at or near a bus stop or bench, shelter or transit stop for passengers of public mass transportation or in the act of boarding a bus or other public transportation vehicle; or
- in or near a school zone or a school crossing zone or a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Drivers who cause an accident with a pedestrian in Nevada because of their lack of “due care” face charges of reckless driving. Nevada is actually one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians.1
Drivers suspected of causing an accident with a pedestrian by failing to exercise due care are not charged with violating NRS 484B.280 (failing to exercise due care). Instead, they are charged with violating NRS 484B.653 (reckless driving). And if the incident occurred in a pedestrian safety zone, the driver faces additional penalties under NRS 484B.135. And if a cop sees a driver not exercising due car without causing an accident, the cop may slap him/her with a “careless driving” ticket.2
2. How do I fight the charges?
The most efficacious strategies for contesting criminal charges for “failing to exercise due care towards a pedestrian” turn on the facts of the case. Either way, the driver’s defense attorney would try to find evidence to undermine the state’s case, such as:
- surveillance video from mounted traffic cameras or eyewitnesses,
- photographs from mounted traffic cameras or eyewitnesses, and/or
- eyewitness testimony
Chances are the arresting officer from Las Vegas Metro or the Nevada Highway Patrol were not present at the time of the incident and would not be able to provide firsthand accounts.
Note that many traffic cases do not progress to trial. The D.A. may be amenable to lessening the charge or possibly dismissing the charge following a negotiation with the driver’s defense attorney.
3. What are the penalties for hitting a pedestrian by “failing to exercise due care” in Las Vegas, Nevada?
If the pedestrian who was hit did not sustain substantial bodily harm, failing to exercise due care is a misdemeanor. The punishment increases with each successive offense:
- A first offense carries $250 to $1,000 in fines and 50 to 99 hours of community service.
- A second offense carries $1,000 to $1,500 in fines and 100 to 199 hours of community service.
- A third offense or successive offense carries $1,500 to $2,000 in fines and 200 hours of community service.
Additionally, the court may order up to six (6) months in jail. Note that if the incident occurred in a pedestrian safety zone, the penalties may be doubled. But note that this additional penalty must not exceed a total of $1,000 in fines, six (6) months of jail or 120 hours of community service.3
If the pedestrian did sustain substantial bodily harm or was killed, failing to exercise due care is a category B felony. The punishment is one to six (1 – 6) years in Nevada State Prison as well as $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
Note that failing to exercise due care without causing a collision is a civil infraction carrying only a civil penalty.4
4. Can I get my charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
Possibly, though the D.A. takes traffic cases more seriously when a pedestrian is involved. Note that getting a traffic charge reduced to a non-moving violation is always more difficult for defendants with a lengthy history of traffic violations.
5. How many points will it put on my license?
The Nevada DMV adds eight (8) demerit points to the licenses of drivers suspected of reckless driving. Demerit points remain on a driver’s license for one (1) year. (Note that drivers cited for “careless driving” will get six (6) points added to their license.) If a driver’s license ever accrues twelve (12) or more points, the driver will have his/her license suspended for six (6) months.5
Note that driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor that carries up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.6
Also note that it is possible to contest license suspensions at a DMV Hearing, which is like a small-scale trial. However, drivers with suspended licenses are strongly advised to retain an attorney to handle this procedure.
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Probably. Insurance companies usually increase insurance rates whenever the insured gets a moving violation. That is another reason why traffic defendants are encouraged to hire attorneys to try to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
It depends on the case. Sometimes, doing traffic school can help get a traffic charge lessened to a non-moving violation.7
8. What will happen if I ignore my case?
Any defendant in a criminal case who misses a mandatory court date or is late on a fine payment will get a bench warrant after a 30-day grace period. Note that people late on their fine payments must be given the opportunity to do community service instead of paying the fine before a bench warrant can issue.
Once a person has a bench warrant, he/she may be arrested at any time and held in jail with no bail until he/she agrees to face the charges, show up to court, and make payments.
Cops usually do not go out of their way to find people with bench warrants who are facing only misdemeanor traffic charges. But when cops pull people over for speeding or other issues, they always run the drivers’ names and will arrest drivers who come back positive for a bench warrant. Therefore, people with bench warrants are advised to hire attorneys to try to get the warrant “quashed” as soon as possible.8
Note that if you are cited for only a civil infraction, being late on your civil penalty payment will not cause a bench warrant to issue. Though you may be assessed a late fee.
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
The DMV will add eight (8) points to the person’s driver’s license and eight (8) points to the person’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). It does not matter if the driver was operating a non-commercial automobile at the time of allegedly “failing to exercise due care towards a pedestrian”.
Note that drivers with CDLs are required to notify their boss about getting a reckless driving charge within thirty (30) days of the incident.9
9.1. CDL Suspension
Reckless driving is a “serious offense” under federal law for a CDL-holder. Racking up two (2) “serious offenses” in a three (3) year period causes a 60-day CDL suspension. And a third offense causes a 120 day CDL suspension.10
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
Every state has its own rules. Therefore, out-of-state drivers charged in Nevada are encouraged to talk with an attorney in their home state about the ramifications for their license.
11. When can I get my case sealed?
It depends on whether the driver was convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor reckless driving convictions can be sealed one (1) year after the case closes. Felony reckless driving convictions can be sealed five (5) years after the case closes.11
But if the charge gets dismissed (so there is no conviction at all), there is no waiting period to pursue a record seal.12
12. Will I get deported?
Probably not, since reckless driving is not a deportable crime. Still, any non-citizen facing criminal charges in Nevada should retain an attorney to discuss their case.
13. Should I fight my charge or just plead guilty?
All traffic defendants are encouraged to fight the charges with the help of an experienced attorney. The D.A. may be willing to reduce or dismiss the charges, which may result in no demerit points, no traffic school, no insurance rate increases, and lower or zero fines.
14. Can I go to trial?
People charged with misdemeanor reckless driving may have a bench trial (where the judge and not a jury determines guilt or innocence). People charged with felony reckless driving may elect to have a bench trial or a jury trial.
Note that most traffic cases do not go to trial. In the majority of cases, the defense attorney and prosecutor can agree to a settlement.13
15. Do I need an attorney?
It is highly recommended. Prosecutors often offer better deals to represented defendants. Lawyers are skilled in eliciting the best plea bargains from prosecutors. And in most cases, defendants with attorneys never have to appear in court, which is very important for defendants who have day jobs or live far away from the courthouse.
Charged with reckless driving? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Were you arrested for reckless driving for failing to exercise due care towards a pedestrian in Nevada? For a consultation, phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys today. We will fight to get your charges dismissed or lessened to a non-moving violation with the lowest fines, no demerit points, and no traffic school.
Were you or a loved one a pedestrian injured by a driver? You could be entitled to large money damages, even if you might have been to blame in part. Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys want to try to win you compensatory damages to cover your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of future earnings, and more. And you pay us zero unless we win your case.
In Colorado? See our article about CRS 42-4-807.
- NRS 484B.280; Mick Akers, “Nevada among the most dangerous states for pedestrians“, Las Vegas Review-Journal (November 4, 2019).
- CCC 14.60.190.
- NRS 484B.280; NRS 484B.135.
- NRS 484B.280. AB 116 (2021).
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
- NAC 483.764.
- See, for example, 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.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- 49 CFR §383.51.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.