Some citations go from criminal to civil in Douglas County

A traffic stop on Jacks Valley Road in spring 2022.

A traffic stop on Jacks Valley Road in spring 2022.

Douglas County deputies will no longer issue criminal citations for some traffic infractions starting today.

Under a state law that takes effect at the beginning of the year what were misdemeanors will become civil infractions.

The change was included in Assembly Bill 116 by the 2021 Nevada Legislature.

“The counties are authorized to adopt code provisions same as those in Nevada law, but not allowed to impose a stricter code,” attorney Carey Rosser said. “In the case of these provisions, counties would no longer be allowed to penalize a civil infraction as a misdemeanor.”

County commissioner and former law enforcement officer Wes Rice said he wasn’t happy with the change.

“When I saw this was on our agenda, I bristled,” he said. “I know exactly what these changes … are going to do prevent law enforcement from doing their job and removing many cases of probable cause for making a stop and search.”

However, Rice said not approving the change would further deplete law enforcement resources and that he didn’t feel he had a choice but to vote for it.

“I had to let my disdain for this not go unverbalized,” he said.

Under the new code fines are a civil penalty of not more than $500 per offense, according to the document. No warrants may be issued Parking offenses, speeding, or driving on a trail are among infractions that are now civil.

Not all misdemeanors have been erased under the new code, including illegal dumping, underage gambling and driving under the influence.

Commissioners approved a change to county code to be consistent with the new law. Had commissioners not approved it, the law would still take effect, but fines would go to the state instead of the county. Commissioners approved the new code on Dec. 1.

The justice courts have been working through the year to prepare for the change.


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