Navigating Traffic Cases

Learn more from this article written by Las Vegas Justice Court Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz…

By Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz

Because of recent legislative changes, Traffic has become a new animal in the legal system, with many challenges to courts, litigants, and counsel. Hopefully, I can shed some light on how traffic is being handled now in the Las Vegas Justice Court.

A determination of what type of traffic citation is involved is the first step in determining how to proceed. Traffic citations issued after January 1, 2023, now have different “designations.” Traffic citations are classified as either (1) Criminal Traffic; (2) Regulatory Traffic; or (3) Civil Infraction. Each citation travels through the court down different roads.

Criminal Traffic

If the citation is Criminal Traffic, it will say CRIMINAL in the top section of the citation, usually below the citation and/or accident number. It will have a court-appearance date and time that the citation recipient, or counsel, must appear and the box checked noting that court is mandatory.

At the court appearance, the DA may extend an offer to resolve the matter, or the matter can be set for bench trial.

It is important to remember that these offenses are still considered misdemeanors, so it is crucial to appear as directed.

Regulatory Traffic

If the citation is Regulatory Traffic, it is also still considered a misdemeanor. These are normally citations that involve insurance, licenses, registration, and handicap-placard violations.

The citation will have a court-appearance date on it but will not have the mandatory court box checked.

The citations can be handled by appearing in the LVJC Customer-Service Division, on the first floor of the Regional Justice Center, on or before the court date. The person should bring any supporting documents relating to the citation.

Civil Infraction

The last type is Civil Infraction. The citation will say CIVIL in the top section of the citation, usually below the citation and/or accident number.

If this is the person’s first moving-violation citation in Las Vegas Justice Court within the last 36 months, the person may be eligible to have the civil infraction reduced to a non-moving violation by paying the civil penalty AND either completing a Nevada-DMV-approved 5-hour traffic-safety course or paying a Demerit-Point Reduction Fee. The Customer-Service Division will advise if the person is eligible for this option.

If the person does not qualify for the reduction, there are two options as to how to handle the Civil Infraction.

Option 1 is to not contest the Civil Infraction and to either make a payment or pay the full civil penalty due.

Option 2 is to contest the Civil Infraction and to post a bond in an amount equal to the full civil penalty. Once the bond is tendered, a contested-hearing date will be given.

For either option, the selection must be done before the applicable court date. Failure to respond before that date may result in a Default Judgment being issued for the full amount of the civil penalty.

About the author

Chief Judge Cynthia Cruz was elected to Las Vegas Justice Court Department 5 in 2012 and re-elected in 2018. In 2022, Judge Cruz was unanimously selected to be the next Chief Judge for the Las Vegas Justice Court, beginning her two-year term on January 1, 2023.

About the article

© 2024 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.

This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Mar. 2024), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2024/communique-mar-2024/.

The articles and advertisements appearing in Communiqué magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CCBA, the CCBA Publications Committee, the editorial board, or the other authors. All legal and other issues discussed are not for the purpose of answering specific legal questions. Attorneys and others are strongly advised to independently research all issues.

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