- there is an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet of the driver, or
- the driver is behind another vehicle by 300 feet or less
In many cases, failing to dim high beam charges can get reduced to a non-moving violation or possibly dismissed. Typical defense strategies are:
- The defendant never broke the law,
- There was an emergency that made using high beams a reasonable choice, or
- The defendant was falsely accused
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. When high beams are illegal in Nevada
- 2. Fighting the charges
- 3. Penalties for failing to dim high beams in Las Vegas, Nevada
- 4. Getting charges reduced to a non-moving violation
- 5. Nevada 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 infractions
- 12. Immigration consequences
- 13. Fighting the ticket versus paying the civil penalty
- 14. Trial
- 15. Why hire an attorney
- 16. Personal injury lawsuits
- 17. Related traffic violations
1. When high beams are illegal in Nevada
Drivers may use high beams in Nevada except in the following two circumstances:
- The driver is within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or
- The driver is following a vehicle by 300 feet or less
High beams (“brights“) are much brighter and offer more visibility than regulation headlights (“low beams”). However, they can be blinding to other drivers.
Drivers tend to reserve high beams for country roads or rural highways where there are little traffic and no street lights. Drivers should avoid flipping on high beams in populated areas since there are almost always other drivers nearby.1
2. Fighting the charges
Effective defenses to Nevada charges of failing to dim high beams turn on the specific facts of the case, including the
- weather, and
Common defense strategies include:
- The driver broke no law
- The driver behaved reasonably in an emergency
- The driver was falsely accused by another motorist
2.1. The driver broke no law
Perhaps the police mistakenly thought a driver was using high beams when he/she was not. Or perhaps the police miscalculated the distance between a driver using high beams and other vehicles sharing the road.
A defense attorney would attempt to obtain surveillance video of the incident and find eyewitnesses to show that the defendant either dimmed the high beams when necessary or was not close enough to other vehicles to require dimming. As long as the judge does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated NRS 484D.215, the case should be dropped.
2.2. The driver behaved reasonably in an emergency
Sometimes using high beams is the safest choice a driver can make in certain unforeseeable situations. For instance, high beams might be necessary to avoid driving accidents if there is bad weather such as too much fog or if the street lights are down due to a power outage.
In Nevada, drivers may not be held civilly liable when they react reasonably to unexpected conditions.2 If the defense attorney can demonstrate that any reasonable person in the defendant’s scenario would have resorted to high beams, the charge for failing to dim high beams may be dropped.
2.3. The driver was falsely accused by another motorist
Road rage is a common phenomenon, and drivers are quick to blame others when there are accidents. Therefore, the defense attorney would search for any available surveillance video and eyewitnesses to show that the accuser is wrong.
Note that in most minor traffic cases, it is rare for the defense and prosecution to engage in extensive litigation. Much of the time, the defense and prosecution can work a favorable plea deal without much time or expense.
3. Penalties for failing to dim high beams in Las Vegas, Nevada
In the City of Las Vegas, the civil penalty for failing to dim high beams when necessary is $205.3 The civil penalty varies by city and county.4
4. Getting the charge reduced to a non-moving violation
Unless the defendant has a history of traffic violations, prosecutors are often willing to reduce tickets for NRS 484D.215 violations down to non-moving violations. In fact, it might be possible to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the case completely if the defense attorney can show that there is insufficient evidence to support the state’s case.
5. Nevada driver’s license demerit points
The Nevada DMV adds two (2) demerit points on a defendant’s driver’s license for wrongful high beam use.5 Demerit points disappear after one (1) year.
Note that accumulating twelve (12) or more demerit points results in a six (6) month license suspension. The only way to fight the suspension is through a DMV administrative hearing, which is like to a miniature trial.6
6. Auto insurance rates increases
People who are found to have committed failing to dim high beams usually will see a hefty rate hike. Therefore, defendants are encouraged to fight the charges in an attempt to get the case reduced to a non-moving violation that has no insurance penalties.
7. Traffic school
Traffic school is usually not a required penalty for high beam cases. But many defendants opt to take traffic school as a way to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation and thereby avoid demerit points and insurance rate increases.7
8. Ignoring traffic tickets
Your case can be sent to collections if you do not pay your traffic ticket. Plus the DMV may suspend your license.8
9. Commercial driver’s licenses
The Nevada DMV adds two (2) demerit points to a person’s commercial license (CDL) for failing to dim high beams.9
10. Out-of-state licenses
Other states’ DMVs usually impose the same penalty that it would had the high beam violation took place in the driver’s home state. Out-of-state traffic defendants should consult with an attorney in the home state for more information.
11. Sealing infractions
Civil infractions do not go on your criminal record. (Though if you fail to pay the penalty, a civil judgment can show up on your record.)
People convicted of illegal high beam usage in Nevada before January 1, 2023 (as a misdemeanor) have to wait one (1) year after the case closes before they may petition the court for a record seal. Note that whenever a traffic charge gets dismissed, there is no waiting period to petition to seal the record.10
Civil infractions do go on your DMV driving record, which is unsealable.11
12. Immigration consequences
Using high beams unlawfully is not a deportable offense.
Note that undocumented immigrants may be deported even if they do not commit an offense. Illegal aliens should consult with a Nevada immigration attorney to learn their options for obtaining legal residency in the U.S.
13. Fighting traffic citations versus paying the civil infraction
It is tempting just to pay the civil infraction, but it is usually worth it to fight. In many cases, the D.A. will be amenable to reducing or dismissing the charge. And a charge reduction or dismissal will relieve the defendant from car insurance hikes and demerit points penalties.
14. Going to trial
You can request a hearing with a judge if you wish to fight your ticket.12
15. Why hire an attorney
Having an attorney is recommended for even the most minor traffic offenses for the following three reasons:
- Defense attorneys have relationships with prosecutors and judges and usually know the best ways to persuade them to grant a dismissal or charge reduction.
- If an attorney appears at a court hearing, the defendant will not have to show up (with rare exceptions). So defendants who live long distances from court or who have jobs during business hours will not have to travel or miss work as long as they hire an attorney.
- In reality, prosecutors usually offer more favorable plea deals to defendants with attorneys.
16. Personal injury lawsuits
Drivers who use high beams against the law are being negligent to any other drivers sharing the road. Nevada law permits car accident victims (“plaintiffs”) to sue other drivers (“defendants”) under the legal doctrine of negligence per se. A defendant can be found liable in a negligence per se case if:
- the defendant violated a statute (such as NRS 484D.215);
- this violation caused an injury (such as a car accident); and
- the victim is part of the class of people that the statute is meant to protect (such as pedestrians crossing the street or other drivers on the road).13
It is often easier to prevail in a “negligence per se” lawsuit than a regular negligence lawsuit: In a negligence per se lawsuit, the court may presume the defendant was acting unreasonably. The plaintiff’s main job is to show that the defendant’s negligent behavior caused his/her injury.
Note that even defendants who were partially to blame for an accident may still be able to recover damages under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws. As long as the defendant is no more than 50% at fault, he/she may have a valid negligence claim.14
Whether a personal injury case settles out of court or goes to trial, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys strive for the largest financial reward possible to cover the victims’:
Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Related traffic violations
17.1. Failing to use headlights (NRS 484D.100)
Failing to use headlights when it is dark or during inclement weather carries a $205 civil infraction in Las Vegas as well as two (2) demerit points. It is often possible to get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation.
17.2. Texting while driving (NRS 484B.165)
A first-time offense of texting while driving carries a $50 civil infraction. A second-time offense within a seven (7) year period carries a $100 civil infraction as well as four (4) demerit points. For a third-time offense within a seven (7) year period, the civil infraction increases to $250.
17.3. Failing to signal (NRS 484B.413)
Failure to signal carries a small civil infraction and one (1) demerit point. In residential or business districts, drivers have to use a signal no less than 100 feet before turning or changing lanes. On highways, the minimum distance is 300 feet.
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada traffic defense attorney…
Were you cited for failing to dim high beams in Clark County or elsewhere in Nevada? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are here to help. Contact us for a consultation, and we can discuss how we will fight to get your citation dropped or lessened to a non-moving violation.
For California cases, please visit our page on Vehicle Code 24409 VC.
For Colorado cases, please visit our page on CRS 42-4-217.
- 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 SB 110 (2023).
- 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 233, the ACD code is E54, and the description is Failure To Use Headlight Dimmer 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. NRS 484C.7047.
- 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.