Warrants for minor traffic infractions to be canceled on Jan. 1

AB116 treats certain traffic violations as mere civil citations
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Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 10:18 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In a matter of weeks, thousands of Nevadans will be able to get behind the wheel without fear.

Assembly Bill 116, which decriminalizes minor traffic violations, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The measure was voted on during last year’s legislative session with the goal of not putting people in jail because they can’t afford to pay or forgot to deal with a traffic matter.

“Our municipal courts are working hard on that and they’re just ensuring to comply with the law that if there’s a warrant for a traffic-related offense only, those warrants are going to be cleared,” said Sparks District Attorney Wes Duncan.

The bill treats certain traffic violations as mere civil citations, but although prison is out of the picture, there will still be consequences for unpaid tickets.

“You can be reported to your insurance company and also the municipal courts can turn that over to collections,” said Duncan.

According to The Nevada Independent, matters that are now a civil infraction include:

  • carrying people in the bed of a truck
  • driving in a carpool lane with too few passengers
  • driving slowly and then failing to allow other cars to pass
  • talking on a cellphone while driving
  • lower-level speeding
  • bicycling in a prohibited area
  • not signaling when turning a bike or not having proper lights and reflectors on a bike
  • tampering with a required pollution control device
  • violating rules about vehicle length and width, and
  • failing to have insurance for an off-highway vehicle.

Law enforcement agencies say officers will still be out there on a daily basis and remind drivers that more serious offenses, such as DUIs, driving with a suspended license, or reckless driving can lead to an arrest.

“The reason why an officer has to write a citation or pull somebody over is because of unsafe driving behavior or violation so, at the end of the day, all we want to do is to change that behavior,” said Patrol Captain, Corey Solferino, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

“There won’t be anything that changes on the police department side, other than nobody will be out looking for traffic warrants or anything like that because those will be clear,” said Traffic Sergeant, Shawn Congdon, Sparks Police Department.

Most of the work is happening on the back end, the agencies are working around the clock with the technology companies that serve their ticketing systems.

“To make sure that we can separate out which laws need to be misdemeanor offenses, such as DUI or those kinds of things versus those that are mere infractions now, make sure there are no mishaps,” said Stephen Greenlee, PIO for the Reno Police Department.

For now, the current laws will remain in place.

Those with unpaid traffic tickets are urged to still pay and clear them.