Only 13 states treat minor traffic violations such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight as crimes rather than civil offenses, meaning they can get you served a criminal warrant and land you in jail. Nevada is one.
Eddie Diaz, community engagement director for The LIBRE Initiative-Nevada, writes in the Nevada Independent why that should change.
“Taking arrest and a jail stay out of the picture for many thousands of state residents would help people stay in their jobs,” Diaz writes, “allowing them to continue to earn a living and pay their rent, mortgage or tuition.”
Research shows that Hispanic and African-American drivers residing in low-income areas are disproportionately affected by these laws, which risk ruining people’s lives over a simple traffic stop.
They also needlessly drive up the cost to taxpayers of the criminal justice system.
Legislation under consideration by Nevada lawmakers would treat these minor traffic violations as civil rather than criminal offenses. That means for those who can’t immediately pay their fines, the result would no longer be an arrest warrant and jail time.
“No one benefits from a system in which hundreds of thousands of residents can’t pay their bills, then compounds the cost to taxpayers by levying jail time,” Diaz writes.