Speeding Decriminalized in Nevada, Effective January 1st

Las Vegas, Nevada – In a significant shift, exceeding the speed limit by up to 30 mph will no longer be considered a criminal offense in Nevada starting from January 1st. Instead, it will be downgraded to a civil infraction, eliminating the possibility of a bench warrant for individuals who fail to pay their speeding tickets.

Assembly Bill 116, which received near unanimous approval from Nevada legislators in June, marks a culmination of years of efforts to change the law. The rationale behind the legislation was to address the disproportionate impact of criminalizing minor traffic violations on low-income individuals and people of color. The Fines and Fees Justice Center argued that this practice not only burdens jails and courts but also wastes taxpayer money.

Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, the bill’s proponent, emphasized its significance in breaking the cycle of debt stemming from minor traffic violations. “People will no longer have to worry that they will be arrested and jailed for their inability to pay fines and fees associated with a traffic ticket,” Nguyen stated.

Under the new law, individuals who receive a traffic ticket for a minor offense will have 90 days to respond by either paying the fine or contesting it through a hearing. Failure to respond within the given timeframe will result in a guilty verdict for the traffic offense, leading to liability for the fine and any associated administrative assessments.

It is important to note that Assembly Bill 116 does not eliminate the possibility of jail time for all traffic infractions. Certain violations, such as driving under the influence, driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit, aggressive driving, and drag racing, among others, will still be considered misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity and consequences, particularly if they result in harm to others.

Individuals who neglect to pay their fines or possess unpaid tickets for minor traffic violations predating January 1, 2023, will no longer face arrest for the offense. The Las Vegas Municipal Court has already voided nearly 35,000 traffic bench warrants in light of this change, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Nevertheless, unpaid fines can now be transferred to collections agencies. Collection fees for amounts less than $2,000 will be capped at $100. Civil courts will also have the authority to garnish wages or place liens on property to recover delinquent fines. Additionally, Assembly Bill 116 authorizes civil courts to order the suspension of driver’s licenses for non-payment.

With this reform, Nevada joins the majority of states in the US that have already implemented similar systems. Prior to the law taking effect, Nevada was among the 13 states that continued to treat minor traffic violations as criminal offenses, according to the Federal Sentencing Reporter.

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