Five Things to Know About the Change in Traffic Citations from Misdemeanors to Civil Infractions

“This does not mean that all traffic violations will be treated as civil infractions.” Read more from Lisa Szyc in this article published in the Five Things issue of the bar journal Communiqué (Jan. 2023).
  1. Pay attention to the details on the citation. It is important to take note of the following information: The date by which to appear; the jurisdiction in which the appearance must be made; and the details on the citation, like the spelling of the name, the offense cited, etc. Once you make note of these pertinent pieces of information, you are ready to begin the adjudication process. Each court has slightly different protocols. Some courts will permit the entry of the plea online. Some courts have a form for fax adjudication, and others will require in-person appearances at the clerk’s windows.
  2. There has been a change in how the courts will handle traffic tickets. Effective January 1, 2023, AB 116 has essentially decriminalized most traffic infractions. Some traffic-related citations may still be treated as misdemeanors if a criminal penalty is prescribed in the statute. NRS 481.015(a) [effective January 1, 2023] has defined “‘civil infraction’ as a violation of any provision of chapters 483 to 484E, inclusive, 486 or 490 of NRS that is not punishable as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. Civil infractions may still impact points on a driver’s license.” Id.
  3. This does not mean that all traffic violations will be treated as civil infractions. For instance, a person convicted of driving under the influence in violation of NRS 484C.110 will be punished subject to the provisions of NRS 484C.400, which prescribes both misdemeanor and felony convictions depending on the circumstances. However, failure to show proof of insurance will be treated as a civil infraction. See NRS 484A.7037 [effective January 1, 2023].
  4. The change in traffic citations from misdemeanor offenses to civil infractions means that for those offenses not subject to criminal treatment, warrants will no longer be issued by the court. It does not mean that clients can ignore the infraction or not respond to the citation. If your client fails to respond to the civil infraction, the court must issue an order that your client committed the civil infraction and assess the monetary penalty and administrative assessments. A person who has been issued a civil infraction and fails to appear cannot appeal the decision that the infraction has been committed. NRS 484.704(5) [effective January 1, 2023].
  5. NRS 484A.704 sets forth the options available to a client for responding to a civil infraction. Your client has the option to pay the citation in full, dispute the offense, or request a hearing. Id. The court can issue monetary fines and administrative assessments. What happens if your client cannot afford to pay the monetary assessment? NRS 484A.7045 [effective January 1, 2023] permits someone to complete community service in lieu of a monetary assessment. Any person electing to perform community service, however, may still be required to pay administrative assessments.

About this article: This article was originally published in the “Five Things” issue of Communiqué (January 2023), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2023/communique-january-2023/.

About the author
Lisa M. Szyc

Lisa M. Szyc, Esq. is an attorney practicing in the fields of criminal defense, family law, and, most recently, civil defense. Lisa has joined the firm Backus | Burden and is excited about the next journey in her career. She attended UNLV for undergraduate studies and went to law school at North Carolina Central University. Lisa has been a licensed attorney since 2009.

© 2023 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

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