Category Archives: Traffic Crimes

Hit and Run Crashes on the Rise in Las Vegas

Dangerous city traffic situation

Hit and Run Crashes on the Rise in Las Vegas

Studies show that automobile accidents, specifically those involving fleeing the scene or hit and runs, have been on a steady increase on a national scale for the past few years now. To no surprise, hit and run incidents occurred most often in larger suburban cities. And more often than not, the fleeing suspect did so to evade stiff DUI/DWI charges.

In an effort to boost traffic safety and lower fatalities for motorist and pedestrians, the Nevada legislature was one of the first to propose bills that would make offenders think twice before fleeing the scene of an accident.

In March of 2015 the Nevada State Legislature introduced a bill that called for stiffer penalties on drivers who have left the scene of an automobile accident that resulted in serious bodily injury, property damage and/or death. The bill was passed and went into effect on October 1, 2015 as  NRS 484E.010.

NRS 484E.010 states that if you have been involved in an automobile accident that has resulted in bodily injury, property damage or death:

  • All parties should immediately stop his/her vehicle(s) at the scene of the crash, or as close as safely possible, and remain at the scene of the accident until all measures outlined in NRS 484.030 – Duty to Give Information and Render Aid – have been fulfilled
  • All stops must be made without further hindering traffic

Under this new law, a driver found fleeing the scene of an accident that has caused bodily injury, property damage and/or death will be penalized with a category B felony. Punishments mirror those placed on convicted DUI/DWI offenders and include:

  • a fine of no less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000; and a
  • mandatory sentence of two years served in state prison (maximum term set at 15 years)

Prior to the passing of this law, penalties in Nevada for fleeing the scene of an automobile accident resulting in property damage could be as miniscule as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of six months in jail time.

Las Vegas “Hit and Run”  Cases Shock the Nation

Legislators have a valid purpose for proposing that “hit and run” laws have harsher penalties. Being only two months in to 2016, Las Vegas law enforcement has already responded to several fatal hit and run accidents.

On February 7th, 2016 North Las Vegas Police responded to a fatal hit and run. Witnesses of the event described the suspect as a middle aged man driving a white panel van who had struck an individual attempting to cross the street prior to fleeing the scene. The victim, two year old Evelyn Green, was rushed to North Vista hospital where she later died of her injuries. A suspect has not been identified.

The month prior to the death of Baby Evelyn, Lakeisha Holloway became one of the first individuals to be tried under NRS 484E.010 for a crime she committed in December 2015. Holloway was facing over 70 charges, including fleeing the scene of an accident, for repeatedly driving her 1996 Oldsmobile into the busy Las Vegas strip sidewalk at 30-40 miles per hour with her three year old child present in the vehicle. Holloway’s actions claimed the life of one pedestrian and severely injured nearly 40 others. Rather than stopping, Holloway fled approximately one mile from the scene before pulling over and calling 911. Toxicology reports later revealed that marijuana was found present in Holloway’s blood.

Since her arrest, Holloway has been held without bail at a Las Vegas jail. Holloway’s defense team recently announced that she planned to plead not guilty. She is scheduled to appear in court on February 18th, and if convicted Holloway could face over 1,000 years in prison.

With Las Vegas, Nevada – specifically the strip – being the most toured destination in the U.S. bringing in a record breaking 42 million visitors in 2015 alone, the news of these heinous crimes quickly spread and sparked nationwide outrage against hit and run cases.

Hit and Run Statistics

Statistics from the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol (NHP) released earlier this year shed insight on the rise of Hit and Run accidents within Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Transportation, overall traffic accidents resulting in deaths in 2015 increased by nearly 10 percent from the previous year for a total of 321 fatalities. To no surprise, this increase nearly doubled for Clark County at a soaring 18.9 percent (207 fatalities). Of the thousands of hit and run cases reported there were over 700 reported fatal hit and run instances in 2015 (including auto-pedestrian cases).

Though drunken driving fatalities in the Clark County area dropped by nearly 20 percent, studies found that drugs and alcohol are to blame for an overwhelming amount of automobile incidents involving a fleeing party.

Conclusion

If charged with a hit and run or fleeing the scene following an accident, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An individual charged with fleeing the scene may also face related charges, such as DUI or possession of a controlled substance.

Joel Mann is an experience, trial proven criminal defense attorney. He has extensive experience representing individuals facing charges of fleeing the scene and other criminal offenses. Call the Law Office of Joel M. Mann at (702) 474-6266 for a confidential attorney review of your case.

 

Five Tips for Dealing with Las Vegas Police During Traffic Stops

The arrest of Sandra Bland on July 10 and her subsequent death three days later in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, prompted immediate calls for an investigation into her alleged suicide. However, the case garnered even more nationwide attention when the Texas Department of Public Safety released this video of Bland’s traffic stop last Tuesday.

The video shows Bland being pulled over for a failure to signal, but it also shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia quickly escalating the situation because the 28-year-old woman understood her rights under the law. Bland has been somewhat unfairly criticized for her alleged attitude in dealing with Encinia during the stop, but nothing she said justified the state trooper’s inexplicable conduct.

Bland only told the trooper she was understandably irritated after Encinia asked for confirmation of this observation, and she was well within her rights to ask why she should have to honor a request to extinguish the cigarette she was smoking in her own car. It was at this point that the traffic stop spun wildly out of control and the trooper probably exceeded his legal authority.

This past April, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Rodriguez v. United States that “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.” In Bland’s case, the matter for which the stop was made was essentially at its conclusion as Encinia had written the citation and was preparing to bring it to Bland.

The only grounds for which Encinia might have been able to extend the duration of this stop would have been if he had a reasonable suspicion that Bland had committed some other crime. Of course, smoking in one’s automobile violates no law in Texas, and it is hard to imagine that the cigarette was viewed as a possible weapon since that confrontation was not even mentioned in Encinia’s incident report.

Unfortunately, what this incident really embodies is the way that certain police officers frequently abuse their authority and disregard an average person’s rights with total impunity. However, you should not assume that this type of encounter only happens in Texas. If you are pulled over for any kind of alleged traffic violation in the Las Vegas area, here are five things you should always remember:

  • Keep Your Calm — Any traffic stop can be a stressful experience, but keep in mind that police officers have dangerous jobs. If you are vulgar or loud or confrontational, these types of actions can give any officer reason to feel threatened or challenged. No matter how upset you are about being pulled over, it is critical to keep your emotions in check and avoid lashing out against police.
  • Admit Nothing — Exercise your Fifth Amendment privilege without making a point of saying that you know your rights. You do not have to admit to any wrongdoing. For example, it is in your best interest, when asked if you knew how fast you were going, to tell the officer that you are not going to answer that question.
  • Sign the Ticket — There is a common misperception that refusing to sign a warning or traffic ticket is a refusal of guilt that could later lead to it being thrown out in court. This is incorrect. Signing a citation is an admission of nothing other than you promise to appear in court. Under Nevada Revised Statute § 171.177, an alleged offender must be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate if he or she is refuses to give a written promise to appear in court after being issued a misdemeanor citation.
  • Refuse to Consent to Any Search — Exercise your Fourth Amendment rights when police officers ask to look in your automobile. Again, Rodriguez v. United States involved a police stop that exceeded the proper duration when an officer held the alleged offender for several minutes so a second officer with a drug-sniffing dog could conduct a search without reasonable suspicion. Police officers will frequently try to trick people by asking them whether they have something to hide, but the best response in these situations is to always ask, “Are you detaining me or am I free to go?” Try to avoid having any type of overwhelming odors within your car—primarily marijuana, but also air fresheners that are frequently used as covers for marijuana—as these types of scents are often cited by police as probable cause to search vehicles without consent (even when there was no evidence of such smells) and are more difficult to disprove in court.
  • Ask for an Attorney — Exercise your Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel for your defense. You are under no obligation to say anything without a lawyer, and you should be sure to have legal representation any time you are being questioned by police.

If you follow these rules you can keep yourself safe, you can let the officer feel safe doing his/her job and you can protect your rights.  However, should you be arrested, contact an experience criminal defense attorney in order to keep your rights protected.

DUI Checkpoints Scheduled for this Labor Day Weekend.

LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) – Law enforcement agencies in the valley plan DUI checkpoints for the Labor Day Weekend.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s checkpoints are planned from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday in the southwest parts of the valley.

The Henderson Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be joined by other area law enforcement agencies operating the checkpoint from about 8 p.m. Friday until about 2 a.m. Saturday on St. Rose Parkway west of Eastern Avenue.

There were 390 deaths in traffic accidents nationwide in 2010 over the Labor Day holiday (three-day weekend), second only to Thanksgiving (four-day period) with 417 traffic-related deaths. New Year’s Day (three-day period) had 286 traffic-related deaths nationwide in 2010.

In Clark County, there was one fatal accident during the Labor Day weekend in 2011 and a total of six accident-related deaths statewide over the holiday weekend last year.

In 2011, 246 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes on Nevada roadways. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 74 of those deaths, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety – Office of Traffic Safety. So far this year, 167 people have died on the state’s roadways with alcohol being a factor in 25 of those deaths.

Henderson Police will be assisted by officers from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Boulder City Police, Mesquite Police, Nye County Sheriff’s Office and Nevada Highway Patrol.

It is a requirement of Nevada law that the location of a DUI checkpoint be released before the date of the event, according to a release from the Henderson Police Department. 

Using a Cell Phone or Texting while driving in Nevada

As some of us may be aware the Nevada Legislature passed a law that prohibits and/or limits a person from using a cell phone while driving.  Since everybody these days relies on a cell phone I have been getting a lot of questions about what a person can do while in the car.  The law NRS 484B.165 went into affect in its full force on January 1, 2012.

The law applies to a person operating a motor vehicle on a highway in the State of Nevada.  The term highway means any road, street, freeway, etc. that the public has access to.  It can be argued that this would can also be applied to parking lots.

PROHIBITS

The law prohibits the use of texting, searching the internet, reading email, instant messaging, etc. while operating a vehicle.  So technically even if you are stopped at a light you would be breaking the law if you were reading your emailing.  So there is no reading or typing while operating a vehicle.

PERMITS

The law does allow for a person to use a cellphone while operating a vehicle if they are using an accessory that allows the use of the phone to be handsfree.  Therefore any bluetooth device or earpiece will allow you to follow the law and talk.  But many of the questions I received are regarding the question of, can I touch my phone to answer, to call, etc?  The law specifically states that a person is allowed to use the phone  “to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function on the device.”  This can be argued that initiating  a phone call is acceptable.  I also see a lot of people holding the cell phone and using the speaker function while driving.  This would not meet the definition of handsfree and therefore would be illegal.  You can call and put the call on speaker but must then put the phone down.

As with any law there are exceptions to those people who must follow the law:  Law enforcement, Emergency Medical personnel, etc.

FINES

If you get a citation and you just pay it you will be pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in Nevada.  The Statute requires the following fine schedule:

First offense within 7 years is $50, and is not considered a moving violation.

Second offense within 7 years is $100, moving violation

Third offense within 7 years is $250, moving violation

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