Nevada Distracted Driving Laws
- Handheld band for all drivers, effective 1/1/12 (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers, effective 1/1/12 (Primary Law).
Nevada’s Texting While Driving Stand
As of January 1, 2012, Nevada has joined the ranks of other states by implementing stricter cell phone laws. Motorists are no longer permitted to use handheld cell phones to hold conversations nor text while operating their vehicles. Individuals who violate the new law will receive a $50 fine for their first offense, a $100 fine for a second offense, and a $250 penalty for any cell phone violations following the initial two.
Due to the nature of this new law, law enforcement has the authority to stop an individual for cell phone use while driving. However, this new law does permit motorists to make calls with the use of a hand-free accessory.
According to the new law:
Drivers cannot enter text or type into a cellular phone or other handheld communications device, as well as send or read data using the same devices. They can also not search the Internet or communicate with another person. This includes, without limitation, texting, instant messaging and e-mailing.
Drivers cannot use a cellular phone or other handheld communications devices to engage in communications with another person unless the device is used with an accessory which allows it to be hands-free. This is definite unless it is used to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function on the device.
There are, however, a few keynotes and provisions that are specified under this law. For example, this law does not apply to those who are using GPS navigation systems. This law also does not apply to drivers who are utilizing a two-way radio system that uses a hand-held microphone. Under this law’s provisions, motorists who receive their first penalty will not be cited for a moving violation. In addition, those who receive a violation after a 7 year period will have that violation treated as a first offense.
Senate Bill 150 was the starting point of Nevada’s new cell phone law. According to the bill, motorists would not be permitted to use hand-held cell phones for talking or texting while operating their vehicles. This new law was set in place as an all-encompassing measure that would prevent cities and counties from creating cell phone laws of their own. The original fines set in the bill were significantly higher than the ones in which motorists are required to pay. The bill required motorists to pay a fine of $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second, and $1000 and a license suspension of 6 months for the third violation. These fines were expected to be doubled if the offense was in a work or construction zone. On April 22, 2011, this bill was amended and reduced the fines to the ones that are in place now. In a 12-9 vote, the Nevada State Senate approved the amended bill and sent it to the State Assembly; where it was approved on a 24-7 vote. The final approval came on June 4, 2011, and was later approved by the Governor. While law enforcement began issuing warnings to motorists on October 1 that same year, the state would not truly begin enforcing the law until January 1 of the following year.
Senate Bill 76 seeks to establish a ban on hand-held cell phone use and text messaging. However, hands-free cell phones and GPS devices would be permitted. Any form of non-verbal communication, including internet use, would not be permitted. As of April 16, 2011, this bill was dead.
AB 151 would ban the act of text messaging in addition to the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. Fines would be as follows: $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $250 for a third. However, if a death or serious injury results from a driver’s violation, he or she will serve a prison term of 1 to 6 years and pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000. Motorists would receive a warning until December 31, 2011. This law was eventually approved by the Assembly Committee with a 12-3 vote on March 29, 2011.
AB 173 would prohibit the use of cell phones and text messaging for all drivers in Nevada. If a death or serious injury results from a violation, that motorist would serve a sentence of 1 to 6 years and pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000. As of April 16, 2011, this bill was dead.
SB 145 would prohibit motorists under the age of 18 from using a cell phone and text messaging while operating a vehicle. If a violation occurs, the penalty would be determined by the juvenile court system. In addition, violations that occur in a school zone would be treated more seriously. As of April 16, 2011, this bill was dead.
2011 Distracted Driving News
SB 140 was approved on June 4, 2011, by Governor Brian Sandoval, who stated that he would support a statewide ban on text messaging while driving.
While the bill’s author, Senator Shirley Breeden, failed to get a texting bill approved in 2010, she never gave up. In 2011, she presented a similar bill with hand-held cell phones added in. While much of her bill still remains, Senate altered it a bit by reducing the fine levels.
Pro and con arguments were heard by the Assembly Transportation Committee on Senate Bill 140. Those who were against the bill argued against the need for it. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, the number of accidents from 2008 had reduced in 2009. Assemblyman Scott Hammond argued that the bill might actually cause more accidents because motorists may distract themselves when attempting to hide their phones while driving. While lawmakers argued the pros of the bill as well, families and friends of deceased victims of distracted driving argued the need for such a bill. Among the victims speaking were Jenifer and Richard Watkins. These individuals spoke of the serious injuries that they obtained through a vehicle collision with a distracted driver in 2004. While the hearings took place, no actions occurred.
In March of 2011, a ban on hand-held cell phone use was added to AB 151 to go along with its original texting ban. This amendment eventually helped push the bill past the Transportation Committee.
The Nevada Department of Public Safety is in full support of SB 76. As of November 2010, state employees were banned from engaging in driving habits that would distract them from the road.
SB 136 would prohibit the act of text messaging by a motorist while on a Nevada road. On April 8, 2009, this bill was OK’d by a full Senate vote; however, it died in the Assembly. It would eventually be reworded and turned into an unrelated motorcycle bill: SB 309.
2012 Distracted Driving News
According to the Henderson Police Department, a total of 351 citations were handed out during the law’s first month of enforcement alone. In addition, the Nevada DOT states that more than 60 deaths have resulted over the past 5 years from distraction-related crashes. According to the Nevada DOT, Nevada sees about 3,500 distraction-related crashes each year.