Updated July 10, 2020
People ticketed for running a red light in Las Vegas face a $305 fine and four (4) Nevada demerit points on their driver’s license. But a defense attorney can often get the charge dismissed or lessened to a “non-moving” violation with no demerit points.
Ignoring a ticket for running a red light may result in the driver getting a bench warrant in Nevada. Then the driver can be arrested at any time and held in jail until the traffic ticket case is resolved. So it is highly advisable that people facing traffic charges seek legal counsel immediately to handle the matter.
In this article our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about the failure to obey red lights in Clark County and throughout Nevada. Some of the issues discussed are defenses, sentences, demerit points, record seals, and additional pertinent information. Click on a topic below to jump directly to that section:
- 1. Is running a red light illegal in Las Vegas?
- 2. Can I fight the ticket?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving?
- 5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
- 6. Will my auto insurance rates to go up?
- 7. Do I have to do traffic school?
- 8. What will happen 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 get my record sealed?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight the ticket or just pay the fine?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
If you have been injured by a car that disobeyed a traffic signal, you may be entitled to hefty money damages. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to learn more.
1. Is running a red light illegal in Las Vegas?
Yes. Disobeying a traffic signal is against Nevada law unless there is a police officer at the intersection directing traffic otherwise.1
2. How do I fight the ticket?
Unless the incident resulted in a bad accident, Nevada prosecutors are usually willing to reduce NRS 484B.307 charges to a lesser offense. But if the prosecutor is unwilling to negotiate the charge down, the defense attorney can try to fight the traffic ticket on the merits.
Common evidence that may come into play includes eye-witnesses, surveillance video, and photographs. However, in some cases there is no evidence except for the police report claiming that the defendant disobeyed a traffic signal. If the defense attorney can convince the prosecutor that there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charge may be dropped.
3. What are the penalties?
In the city of Las Vegas, violating NRS 484B.307 carries a $305 fine. Every city and county imposes its own punishments, but the fine is doubled if the traffic signal was in a work zone. Learn more about Nevada work zone penalties.
Unlike California, Nevada law does not have traffic “infractions.” Instead, running a red light is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum misdemeanor penalties are $1,000 in fines and/or six (6) months in jail, but incarceration hardly ever happens in traffic ticket cases.2
Nevada courts usually lessen charges for disobeying a traffic light to a non-moving violation, which has much lesser penalties. Scroll down to learn more. (For cases in California, please see our page on Vehicle Code 21453 VC -- tickets for running a red light in California.
4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
Yes, in almost all cases. The great benefit of getting a traffic ticket reduced to a non-moving violation is that non-moving violations do not put demerit points on the person’s Nevada driver’s license.
5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
A conviction for violating NRS 484B.307 will result in four (4) demerit points going on the person’s Nevada driver’s license. Demerit points remain on the license for one (1) year before disappearing.
If a person gets twelve (12) demerit points on his/her license, then the Nevada DMV will suspend it for six (6) months. Therefore, it is highly recommended that people who are issued traffic tickets to try to get them reduced to a non-moving violation carrying no demerit points.3
If the DMV does suspend a person’s driver’s license after a traffic violation, he/she can ask for a DMV hearing to argue against the suspension. As with a criminal trial, it is recommended that the person have a defense attorney appear at the hearing for him/her.4
People with a suspended license should avoid driving at all. Driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor carrying up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
6. Will my auto insurance rates to go up?
Yes, though every insurer is different. Obviously, people with more traffic violations will have steeper premium hikes. But if the citation gets reduced to a non-moving violation, the insurance company will probably not increase the rates.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
Usually not. But the benefit of completing Level 1 Nevada Traffic school within five (5) days of pleading guilty is that the charge should be reduced to a non-moving violation. As explained above, non-moving violations carry no demerit points.5
8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
Defendants who miss court or fine payments get a 30-day grace period before 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.
A bench warrant means that the person can be arrested at any time. Furthermore, the DMV may suspend the driver’s license of someone who failed to show up to court.
Courts are usually willing to recall (“quash”) bench warrants, but it is advised that defendants hire private counsel to file a “motion to quash” and appear in court on the defendants’ behalf. At the court hearing, the judge can also issue an “FTA clearance” directing the DMV to reinstate the defendant’s license.6
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
Traffic violations in Nevada affect the person’s commercial driver’s license the same way it affects a regular driver’s license: Four (4) points will be added to his/her commercial driver’s license. However, commercial driver’s license holders are required to tell their employer about the violation within thirty (30) days of getting the ticket.7
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
The defendant’s home state DMV will usually issue the same number of demerit points that it would if the violation occurred in that state. Any out-of-state defendant charged with running a red light in Nevada is encouraged to get an attorney in his/her home state to handle the DMV aspect of the case.
11. When can I seal a conviction for running a red light in Las Vegas, Nevada?
After a person gets convicted of violating NRS 484B.307, he/she needs to wait one (1) more year before beginning the record seal process in Nevada.8 But if the defense attorney succeeds in persuading the D.A. to drop the charges (meaning there is no conviction at all), then the defendant does not have to wait to begin the record seal process.9
12. Will I get deported?
Most traffic offenses are not deportable. But in light of the current administration’s policies, immigrants facing traffic charges are encouraged to hire an attorney to try 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?
No, by all means try to fight the charge. More often than not, the judge will reduce the ticket to a non-moving violation. This saves the defendant from getting demerit points and getting a conviction for a moving violation on his/her record.
14. Can I go to trial?
People accused of any traffic offense in Nevada are entitled to a bench trial (where the judge decides the case) but not a jury trial. But note that the vast majority of these cases resolve without a trial. 10
15. Do I need an attorney?
It is a good idea. In practice, prosecutors offer more favorable deals to defendants represented by private counsel. And private counsel is very skilled at fighting for lesser charges and case dismissals. Furthermore, private counsel can appear in place of the defendant without him/her having to show up--so for tourists and out-of-state defendants, hiring an attorney saves them an expensive and time-consuming trip to Nevada.
15.1. Las Vegas Justice Court “attorney sessions”
For people issued traffic tickets in Las Vegas’s unincorporated city limits, Las Vegas Justice Court has a relatively quick and efficient way to handle the cases. The court holds biweekly “attorney sessions” on Tuesdays and Thursdays where deputy district attorneys and private counsel hammer out traffic ticket negotiations. So if a defendant hires an attorney on Friday, he/she may be able to get the case resolved by the following Tuesday during the attorney session.
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Cited for failing to stop at a red light in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE meeting. We have had great success in getting traffic charges dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation with the minimum fines, no demerit points, and no traffic school.
Were you in an accident caused by another driver disobeying a traffic signal in Nevada? You could be eligible for a significant financial reward to cover all your bills and much more. Even if you were partly at fault, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys will fight to get you the most generous settlement possible. We are also ready to go to trial if necessary.
- NRS 484B.307; Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV refers to running a red light as Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device, Violation Code 452 or ACD Code M17. And Las Vegas Municipal Court refers to Obedience to Traffic Control Device as Violation Code 500.
- NRS 484B.300; 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.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.