Failing to use headlights when required is a civil infraction in Las Vegas carrying a civil penalty of $205 and two (2) Nevada driver’s license demerit points. Nevada law mandates that drivers use headlights in the following situations:
- 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise;
- Whenever other vehicles and pedestrians within 1,000 feet are not visible (such as during a rainstorm); or
- When directed by an official traffic control device.
Prosecutor may be willing to reduce citations for failing to use headlights to a non-moving violation or possibly a dismissal. Common defenses to NRS 484D.100 charges are:
- The defendant followed the law,
- There was an emergency, or
- The defendant was falsely accused
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. When headlights are required in Nevada
- 2. Fighting the charges
- 3. Penalties for failing to use headlights in Las Vegas, Nevada
- 4. Getting charges reduced to a non-moving violation
- 5. Driver’s license demerit points
- 6. Auto insurance rate increases
- 7. Traffic school
- 8. Ignoring traffic tickets
- 9. Commercial driver’s licenses
- 10. Out-of-state driver’s licenses
- 11. Sealing cases for failing to use headlights
- 12. Immigration consequences
- 13. Fighting the ticket versus paying the civil penalty
- 14. Going to trial
- 15. Why to hire an attorney
- 16. Personal injury lawsuits
- 17. Related traffic violations
1. When headlights are required in Nevada
Nevada drivers are required to turn on their headlights in the following three circumstances:
- From a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise;
- Whenever insufficient light or inclement weather obscures seeing other vehicles and pedestrians within 1,000 feet; or
- When directed by an official traffic control device.
In short, drivers are required to use headlights when it is too dark to drive safely. Many cars now turn on headlights automatically when it gets dark.1
1.1. High Beams
Since high beams can be blinding to other motorists, drivers may not use them when they are either:
- within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or
- within 300 feet of a vehicle in front of them2
Therefore, drivers tend to rely on brights only on rural roads where there is little traffic. Learn more about failing to dim high beams.
2. Fighting the charges
How best to defend against charges of not using headlights when necessary always depends on the facts of the case, such as the time of day and weather. Typical arguments to fight traffic charges include:
- The driver followed the law
- There was an emergency that justified not using headlights
- The driver was falsely accused
2.1. The driver followed the law
Sometimes police get it wrong and erroneously believe they observed someone violating a traffic law. Or perhaps a driver did forget to use headlights, the police mistakenly cited another, innocent driver.
This is when a defense attorney would try to find surveillance video of the incident as well as eyewitnesses in an effort to demonstrate the defendant’s innocence. As long as the judge does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant neglected to use headlights, the state should drop the matter.
2.2. There was an emergency that justified not using headlights
Prosecutors may show sympathy when a person finds him/herself in a dangerous situation where there is no choice but to drive without headlights: Perhaps there is a fire or another natural disaster where the only mode of escape is a vehicle with broken headlights. Or perhaps a dangerous predator is stalking the defendant, and he/she turns off the headlights in an attempt to elude capture.
Under Nevada law, drivers can avoid civil liability for damages when they react reasonably to emergency situations.3 As long as any reasonable person in the same situation as the defendant would have driven without headlights, there is a good chance the D.A. will dismiss the charge.
2.3. The driver was falsely accused
Every day, drivers lose their cool and lash out at each other out of road rage. If a defendant may have been falsely accused by another driver of not using headlights, the defense attorney would hunt for all available surveillance video and eyewitnesses to prove the accuser wrong.
Note that most traffic cases involve no extensive litigation. Since there are so many traffic cases, prosecutors are usually quick to offer a favorable plea deal without any evidence of the defendants’ innocence.
3. Penalties for failing to use headlights in Las Vegas, Nevada
The civil penalty for failing to use headlights in the City of Las Vegas is $205.4 This is usually lower in other Nevada cities and counties.5
4. Getting the charge reduced to a non-moving violation
Most Nevada prosecutors are generous about lessening NRS 484D.100 charges down to a non-moving violation as part of a plea deal. And if the defense attorney can show that the state’s evidence is particularly weak, the prosecutor may even be willing to dismiss the charge.
5. Driver’s license demerit points
The Nevada DMV adds two (2) demerit points on a defendant’s driver’s license for failing to use headlights.6 Demerit points stay on a person’s driver’s license for one (1) year.
If a Nevada driver ever accumulates twelve (12) or more demerit points, the DMV will suspend the person’s license for six (6) months. The only way to fight the suspension is through a DMV administrative hearing, which is like to a miniature trial.7
6. Auto insurance rates increases
Not using headlights is considered a moving violation in Nevada, and insurance companies usually do increase rates for moving violations. Therefore, traffic defendants are advised to hire an attorney to try to get NRS 484D.100 charges reduced to a non-moving violation, which will not cause insurance rates to increase.
7. Traffic school
Most judges do not impose traffic school as a penalty for NRS 484D.100 violations. But if prosecutors are unwilling to plea bargain the case, doing traffic school may be a way to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation. The benefit of non-moving violations is that they carry no demerit points and usually do not result in car insurance increases.8
8. Ignoring traffic tickets
Late fees can be assessed if you do not pay your traffic citation on time (within 90 days of the citation). You also face a license suspension.9
9. Commercial driver’s licenses
The Nevada DMV treats commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) the same as regular driver’s licenses. Therefore, commercial drivers will have two (2) points added to their CDL for failing to use headlights.10
10. Out-of-state driver’s licenses
Non-Nevadans who get ticketed in Nevada may face penalties from their home state DMV. They should consult an attorney from their home state to discuss how their Nevada case may affect their license.
11. Sealing cases for failing to use headlights
Civil infractions do not go on your criminal record. (Though if you do not pay the monetary penalty, a civil judgment can show up on your record.)
The waiting period to seal a misdemeanor-level NRS 484D.100 conviction from before January 1, 2023 is one (1) year after the case closes. Though if the case gets dismissed — meaning there is no conviction — then the defendant can pursue a record seal right away.11
Civil infractions do go on your DMV driving record. This cannot be sealed.12
12. Immigration consequences
A legal alien will not be deported for just an NRS 484D.100 case.
But note that illegal aliens may be deported no matter whether they have committed an offense. Learn more about how our Nevada immigration attorneys may help undocumented immigrants obtain legal status in the U.S.
13. Fighting traffic citations versus paying the civil penalty
It is usually a good idea to fight a traffic ticket because there is a high likelihood that prosecutors will agree to reduce the charge or possibly dismiss it. And this would allow the defendant to avoid car insurance hikes and demerit point penalties.
14. Going to trial
If you wish, you can request a hearing to contest the citation.13
15. Reasons to hire an attorney
- Criminal defense attorneys are more likely than unrepresented defendants to finagle a favorable plea bargain or dismissal from prosecutors.
- Defendants who hire an attorney never have to go to court (in most cases).
- Criminal defense attorneys can often resolve traffic ticket matters quickly.
16. Personal injury lawsuits
Drivers who fail to use headlights in the dark or harsh weather are exhibiting negligence to other drivers and pedestrians. Under Nevada law, car accident victims (“plaintiffs”) may sue the other drivers (“defendants”) under the legal doctrine of negligence per se. In order to prevail in a lawsuit, the defendant would need to show:
- the defendant violated a statute (ex. NRS 484D.100);
- this violation caused an injury (ex. an automobile collision); and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (ex. others sharing the road).14
Even if the injured driver was partially at fault for causing the accident, he/she might still be able to get damages: Nevada’s comparative negligence laws permit plaintiffs to recover money as long as they were no more than 50% to blame.15
No matter whether a car accident lawsuit resolves out of court or through a trial, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys fight to pursue ample financial rewards to cover the victims’:
Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Related traffic violations
17.1. Unsafe Backing (NRS 484B.113)
Improper backing carries a $205 civil penalty in Las Vegas as well as two (2) driver’s license demerit points. Unsafe backing comprises:
- backing up around a corner, into a crosswalk or into an intersection,
- backing up without yielding to pedestrians or other cars, or
- backing up when it is unsafe to do so.
17.2. Improper Turns (NRS 484B.400)
Making an improper turn carries a $395 civil penalty in Las Vegas and four (4) driver’s license demerit points. But it may be possible to get the charge dismissed or lessened to a non-moving violation.
17.3. Failing to signal (NRS 484B.413)
Failure to signal is a moving violation that carries a small civil penalty and one (1) driver’s license demerit point. Using a signal is required 100 feet before turning or changing lanes in residential or business districts. On highways, drivers have to signal 300 feet before turning or changing lanes.
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada traffic defense attorney…
Were you cited for failing to use headlights in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Then call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a consultation. We can discuss how we will fight to get your citation thrown out or lessened to a non-moving offense.
For California cases, please visit our page on Vehicle Code 24250 VC.
- NRS 484D.100 When lighted lamps are required. 1. Every vehicle upon a highway of this State, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles as stated in chapters 484A to 484E, inclusive, of NRS, must display lighted lamps and illuminating devices as respectively required in this chapter for different classes of vehicles: (a) At any time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise; (b) At any other time when, because of insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead; and (c) When directed by an official traffic control device.
- NRS 484D.215 Use of equipment for lighting road with multiple beams.Whenever a motor vehicle is being operated on the traveled portion of the highway, or shoulder adjacent thereto, during the times specified in NRS 484D.100, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, directed high enough and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a safe distance in advance of the vehicle, subject to the following requirements and limitations: 1. Whenever a driver of a vehicle approaches an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver. The lowermost distribution of light, or composite beam, specified in subsection 2 of NRS 484D.210 shall be deemed to avoid glare at all times, regardless of road contour and loading. 2. Whenever the driver of a vehicle follows another vehicle within 300 feet to the rear, the driver shall use a distribution of light permissible under this chapter other than the uppermost distribution of light specified in subsection 1 of NRS 484D.210.
- 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 code is 1814). AB 116 (2021).
- NRS 193.150.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes (the violation code is 235, the ACD code is E55, and the description is Failure To Use Headlights As Required).
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
- See, for example, Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
- See also Nevada DMV Suspension Information Page.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- Nevada Official Driving Records Online, Nevada DMV
- Sixth Amendment.
- Sagebrush Ltd. v. Carson City, 660 P.2d 1013, 1015, 99 Nev. 204, 207 (1983).
- NRS 41.141.