Parking in Las Vegas can be a challenge. Between trying to find that perfect spot and minding the time, it’s all too easy to receive a parking ticket. But as you hold that ticket, a worry might arise: “Will this affect my accident case?”
The good news for Nevada residents and tourists is that the state has decriminalized most traffic offenses, so you probably won’t go to jail for a parking ticket. While this is excellent news, it doesn’t mean you should ignore those tickets. They can add up and create other complications.
What Happens If You Have Outstanding Parking Tickets in Nevada
According to the Las Vegas Justice Court, most traffic tickets in Nevada, including parking tickets, are now civil infractions instead of criminal misdemeanors. (Severe crimes like drunk driving and driving without a valid license are still criminal offenses and carry harsh penalties.) This change, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, is crucial for several reasons.
First, a civil infraction is not a criminal offense, meaning it no longer goes on a person’s criminal record. Downgrading a traffic ticket from a criminal offense to a civil infraction is a notable change because people are no longer at risk of losing a job or facing other severe penalties for a minor offense.
Second, the maximum penalty for civil infractions is a $500 fine in most cases. This lesser penalty is a significant change from the old law, where offenders could go to jail for up to six months or pay a fine of up to $1,000 for a traffic ticket. Less severe penalties will make it easier for people with traffic tickets to pay their fines and get on with their lives instead of worrying about going to jail.
Despite the changes to the law, remember that there can still be consequences for refusing to pay a parking ticket. If you don’t pay your ticket or appear in court to contest it, you could incur the following penalties:
- Referral to a Collections Agency – Like other unpaid debts, unpaid parking tickets can be referred to a collections agency. If this happens, you’ll be dealing with more persistent attempts to collect the owed amount, which could also negatively impact your credit score.
- Demerit Points on Your Driver’s License – Accumulating demerit points can have long-term implications on your driving record, potentially increasing insurance premiums and putting your license at risk if you garner too many.
Can I Be Charged for Old Parking Tickets?
If you had outstanding parking tickets before Nevada law changed in 2023, you likely don’t have to worry about going to jail. As part of the changes to how the state handles traffic tickets, all outstanding bench warrants issued before 2023 were canceled when the new law went into effect. The new law means that even if the police had been looking for you and wanted to send you to jail, the warrant for your arrest is no longer valid, meaning they have no cause to incarcerate you.
We still recommend you pay your outstanding tickets as quickly as possible. Failing to pay can still have significant repercussions. Our Nevada traffic defense lawyers can help you find the best way forward if you have old parking tickets.
Common Traffic Ticket Defense Strategies
You might think you have no defense if you received a traffic ticket in Nevada. However, not every ticket issued is indisputable. Many drivers are unaware that legitimate defenses are available when faced with a parking ticket or another minor traffic offense. After getting a traffic ticket, you may have the opportunity to appear in traffic court, where you can explain your situation and present your defense to a judge. Here’s a rundown of some common legal defense strategies in these cases. You could:
- Challenge the ticketing officer’s observations – You could challenge the judgment of the police officer who issued the ticket. For instance, if you receive a ticket for making an unsafe turn, you could argue that the turn was safe because you used your turn signal and obeyed other traffic laws while making the turn. An attorney can review the facts of your case and help determine whether you can challenge the officer’s observations.
- Provide evidence of a faulty meter or misleading signage – Sometimes, malfunctioning parking meters or unclear signage can be grounds for contesting a ticket. Explaining that you parked in good faith based on nearby signs (or lack thereof) could sway the court’s decision in your favor.
- Explain that you violated the law due to an emergency – Legitimate emergencies, such as a medical issue, could be valid grounds for committing a traffic violation, depending on the circumstances and details. If you received a traffic ticket while responding to an emergency, an attorney can help determine whether you have a valid defense.
- Show that there are errors on the ticket – While minor errors will not be a defense against a traffic ticket, significant errors, such as the wrong license plate number, could be grounds for dismissing your citation.
Contact Our Nevada Parking Ticket Attorneys
Did you get a traffic ticket in Nevada? While these strategies offer potential avenues for contesting a ticket, each situation is unique. Understanding the nuances of local laws and the specifics of the violation is crucial to mounting a solid defense. Don’t navigate the legal system alone. Contact the De Castroverde Law Group for dedicated, effective legal representation. Our family-run firm has extensive experience winning cases for clients across Nevada, protecting their rights and futures. Call (702) 620-9897 or complete our contact form for a free case evaluation with a Nevada parking ticket attorney.