Under NRS 484D.495, driving or riding in a motor vehicle in Nevada without wearing a seat belt carries a maximum $25 civil penalty and no Nevada demerit points. Meanwhile, a first-time offense of not properly securing a child in a car seat in Nevada carries a maximum $500 fine or 50 hours of community service.
Nevada police are not permitted to initiate a traffic stop merely for a seat belt violation: The car either has to be stopped already, or the police must have pulled the car over for committing another “primary” crime.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about not wearing seat belts in Clark County and throughout Nevada, including potential defenses, possible sentences, demerit points, record seals, and other information. Click on a topic below to jump directly to that section:
- 1. Do I have to wear a seat belt in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. How do I fight charges of not wearing a seat belt in Las Vegas, NV?
- 3. What are the penalties for not wearing seat belts in Las Vegas, NV?
- 4. Can I get the charge dismissed?
- 5. How many points will go on my NV driver’s license?
- 6. Will my car insurance rates 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 seal a violation for not wearing a seat belt in NV?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight my ticket?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
If you have been injured by a faulty safety belt, you may be able to recover large money damages. Contact our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys to learn more.
1. Do I have to wear a seat belt in Las Vegas, NV?
Yes. Safety belts are required for both the driver and any passengers in vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds (which includes sedans, SUVs and taxis). Typical safety belts include laps, sashes, or harnesses.
Even though safety belts are mandatory, Nevada police may not pull over drivers solely because someone is not wearing a safety belt. Instead, the police may issue a seat belt citation only if:
- the car is already halted, and/or
- the driver is being arrested for another (“primary”) offense.1
Note that people may ride upon the bed of a flatbed truck…or within the bed of a pickup truck…without a safety belt if the person is:
- Eighteen (18) years of age or older; or
- Under eighteen (18) years of age and the motor vehicle is being used in the course of farming or ranching, or being driven in a parade authorized by a local authority.2
1.1. Seat belt rules for children in Nevada
There are special safety belt rules in Nevada for children who are under six (6) years old and sixty (60) pounds or less. When being transported in a motor vehicle in Nevada, the child must be secured by a child restraint system that:
- Has been approved by the United States Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. Part 571;
- Is appropriate for the size and weight of the child; and
- Is installed within and attached safely and securely to the motor vehicle in accordance with the instructions for installation and attachment provided by the manufacturer of the child restraint system, or in another manner that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A child restraint system comprises such devices as:
- Booster seats and belt-positioning seats that are designed to elevate or otherwise position a child so as to allow the child to be secured with a safety belt;
- Integrated child seats; and
- Safety belts that are designed specifically to be adjusted to accommodate children.
Note that these rules do not apply to transporting a child on public transportation, or when the driver has a signed doctor’s note saying that a child restraint system would be impractical or dangerous for the particular child.
Also note that in extreme cases, a person who does not properly secure a child in a car seat may face child endangerment charges. Nevada defines “child endangerment” as knowingly placing a minor (under 18) in a situation that may harm his/her physical or mental well-being. The punishment ranges from small fines to several years in Nevada State Prison depending on the severity of the case.3
2. How do I fight charges for not wearing a seat belt in Las Vegas, Nevada?
The best strategies for defending against safety belt charges depend on the specific facts of the case. Just some common defenses include:
- There was no safety belt available. For example, if four adults are riding in a backseat equipped with only three safety belts, one of the adults has no choice but not to wear a safety belt.
- The person had a doctor’s note. Sometimes wearing a safety belt can be hazardous to one’s unique physical health, and people with medical excuses are not required to wear seat belts.
- The car was not stopped. Police are not allowed to pull over a car for a seat belt violation unless the driver or passenger is committing another crime.
And sometimes the defendant was wearing a safety belt and the police simply did not see it. Typical evidence that may come into play in these cases includes surveillance video, photographs, and eye-witness testimony.
3. What are the penalties for not wearing a seat belt in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Drivers or adult passengers who do not wear safety belts face a civil infraction penalty of up to $25 or community service. (This is not a misdemeanor.)
Allowing a child passenger to travel without a seat belt also carries a civil penalty of up to $25 or community service if the child is at least six (6) or weighs more than sixty (60) pounds. Note that if both the driver and that child are not wearing safety belts, the police may issue just one citation for both violations.4
Punishments are a little harsher for drivers who wrongfully allow people to ride in the back of a pickup. The civil penalty is $35 to $100.5
3.1. Penalties for violating Nevada car seat laws
The punishment for not driving a child in a proper child restraint system gets steeper with each successive conviction.
- A first-time citation carries a $100 to $500 fine or 10 to 50 hours of community service.
- A second-time citation carries a $500 to $1,000 fine or 50 to 100 hours of community service.
- A third-time (or later) citation carries a 30- to 180-day driver’s license suspension.
But the judge will reduce the sentence if the defendant completes a court-approved two-hour child seat education program within sixty (60) days of sentencing: For a first-time offense, the judge will waive the fine or community service. And for a second-time offense, the judge will halve the fine or community service.6
4. Can I get a seat belt charge dismissed in Las Vegas, Nevada?
It is possible. Often it depends on the available evidence, the prosecutor assigned to the case, and the defendant’s criminal history.
5. How many points will not wearing a seat belt put on my driver’s license in Las Vegas, Nevada?
The Nevada DMV will not add any demerit points to a person’s driver’s license for not wearing a safety belt or failing to secure a child passenger. The is because failing to wear a safety belt is considered a non-moving violation.
But note that the DMV will impose one (1) demerit point if a driver improperly transported someone in the back of a pickup truck. And the DMV will suspend a person’s driver’s license following a third-time offense of not using a proper car seat.7
Driving on a suspended license carries up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. It is possible to fight a license suspension by requesting a Nevada DMV hearing. DMV hearings are similar to trials, and it is recommended that the license-holder hire an attorney to appear for him/her.
6. Will not wearing a seat belt in Las Vegas, Nevada affect my car insurance rates?
Usually no, but every insurer has its own rules.
7. Will I have to do traffic school?
No. But people convicted of not transporting a child in a proper safety restraint (car seat) can elect to complete an education course in exchange for reduced penalties. See question 3.
8. What will happen if I ignore my ticket?
People who miss court or fine deadlines get a 30-day grace period before the court will issue a bench warrant. And if the person fails to pay the fine, the judge may not issue a bench warrant until this happens: The person is given the opportunity to do community service in lieu of the payment, and the person then fails to do the community service.
Once the judge issues a bench warrant, the Nevada DMV may suspend the person’s license. In that case, it is advised that the defendant hire an attorney to try to recall (“quash”) the warrant and reinstate the license.8
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
The Nevada DMV treats commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and regular driver’s licenses the same. Merely failing to wear a safety belt carries no demerit points on the person’s CDL, but letting someone unlawfully travel in the back of a pickup carries one (1) demerit point. See question 5 for more information.
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
Contact an attorney in your home state. Every DMV has its own rules and regulations.
11. When can I seal a violation for not wearing a seat belt in Nevada?
Defendants have to wait one (1) year after the case ends to start the record seal process.9 But if the safety belt case was dismissed, then the defendant does not have to wait to start the record seal process.10
12. Will I get deported?
Safety belt violations are not deportable crimes. However, immigration law is in a precarious state. Non-citizen defendants are always encouraged to seek experienced legal counsel. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
13. Should I fight my citation or just pay the civil penalty?
Defendants who were falsely accused should always consider fighting the case. But this is such a minor violation it may be worth it just to pay the civil penalty. Consult with an attorney.
14. Can I go to trial?
Most safety belt cases settle quickly. But theoretically, anyone charged with a seat belt violation can request a bench trial, which is where the judge decides guilt or innocence. These defendants do not have the right to a jury trial.11
15. Do I need an attorney?
At least consult with one. Depending on the unique facts of the case, it may be a good idea to have legal counsel trying to negotiate a dismissal of the charge.
If the ticket was issued within Las Vegas’s unincorporated city limits, the defendant’s attorney can meet with a prosecutor at one of Las Vegas Justice Courts biweekly “attorney sessions” to try to hammer out a deal. These sessions typically occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Were you cited for not wearing a safety belt in Clark County or elsewhere on Nevada’s roadways? Or were you cited for failing to secure your child’s car seat? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to help. First schedule a FREE consultation. We may be able to get the case dismissed.
Were you or a loved one harmed in Nevada because of a defective safety belt? Our Las Vegas car accident attorneys will fight to recover money damages to pay for all your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of future earnings. And you pay us nothing unless we win. (For cases in California, please visit our page on Vehicle Code 27315 – Callifornia’s law on mandatory use of seatbelts.
- NRS 484D.495; NRS 484D.500; Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV refers to not wearing a seat belt as “Seat belt not used properly as required”, Violation Code 095 or ACD Code F04; Alison Noon, Bill Would Let Nevada Police Pull Over Seat Belt Offenders, US News (March 23, 2017).
- NRS 484B.160; the Nevada DMV refers to this violation as “Carrying unsecured passengers in open area of vehicle,” Violation Code 109 or ACD Code F05.
- NRS 484B.157; the Nevada DMV refers to this offense as “Child or youth restraint not used properly as required”, Violation Code 009 or ACD Code F02; NRS 484D.495.
- NRS 484D.495.
- NRS 484B.160.
- NRS 484B.157.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes; NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- NRS 173.155; see, e.g. motion to place on calendar to quash the warrant at Las Vegas Justice Court; Nevada DMV Suspension.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.