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Understanding Assembly Bill 116: Changes in Traffic Offense Decriminalization


Assembly Bill 116, passed by the 2021 Nevada Legislature, significantly changed the legal landscape of misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Effective January 1, 2023, the bill decriminalized several minor traffic offenses, such as speeding, cell phone use, and seat belt violations. While severe offenses like DUI and driving without a license remain criminal, the new legislation introduces a shift in law enforcement procedures and how the courts treat citations.

In this blog post, we will explore the critical provisions of Assembly Bill 116 and how they affect drivers who receive civil infractions.1

What Do Nevadans Need to Know?

AB 116 made only minor changes to law enforcement procedures during a traffic stop. Officers can still detain, search, and arrest drivers as appropriate under existing laws. However, the significant change lies in how courts treat many citations. Rather than being considered a criminal offense, these citations are now considered civil infractions. For the safety of yourself and others, it’s still vitally important regardless of this change to still follow the law while driving.

I Received a Citation. What Can I Do Now?

Under the new laws, drivers who receive a civil infraction have 90 days to respond. There are two response options available:

  1. Paying the Penalty: The driver can pay the infraction penalty within the given timeframe. Once the payment is made, the infraction will be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  2. Contesting the Violation: The driver can contest the violation in court. If the court dismisses the case, the process ends. However, if the court finds that the driver committed the infraction, they will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500, plus administrative assessments, and fees.2

What Happens if I Don’t Respond?

Nevada drivers must respond to a civil infraction within the specified 90-day period. Failure to do so will result in the driver being found to have committed the violation, which will be reported to the DMV. Additionally, delinquent payments can be collected by the local city or county for up to 10 years.

Assembly Bill 116 has significantly changed the decriminalization of misdemeanor traffic offenses. Again, while minor offenses have been decriminalized, serious offenses such as DUI and driving without a license still carry criminal penalties. Drivers must understand their options when receiving a civil infraction and respond within the specified timeframe. By complying with the new laws and regulations, drivers can navigate the legal landscape more effectively and ensure a smoother resolution of traffic violations.

When you believe you are not primarily at fault for a car crash, to receive more information about your legal options or to schedule a free preliminary consultation with our team to assess your injury claim, we invite you to call the law office of Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen at (702) 800-0000 today.

1 Nevada DMV (n.d.). Traffic Laws and Safety. Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

2 (2022, February 11). AB 116 Explained. Nevada Legislature. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from