Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

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Troopers ticket out-of-state license violators

The excuse that you really live in Los Angeles and commute to Las Vegas for a job won't cut it to get out of a ticket for having an out-of-state driver's license or plates.

And Nevada Highway Patrol troopers are handing out a lot more of those tickets this year.

While Highway Patrol officials say their troopers aren't out hunting for locals with out-of-state plates or licenses, the number of tickets they've handed out this year has increased dramatically from last year.

Last year troopers handed out about 45 tickets a month for out-of-state license violations. But in the first nine months of this year troopers in the Las Vegas Valley are handing out an average of 99 tickets a month. It's the same with tickets for out-of-state car registration tickets -- about 52 a month last year as compared to about an average 117 a month this year through September.

"We're not going out every morning looking for it," Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Flabi said. "Due to the fact that we have so many new residents every month, the numbers (of out-of-state license and plate tickets) could increase."

Basically when troopers make a stop for another violation and find through talking with the driver that they have been in town for more than a month and are still clinging to an out-of-state license, a ticket can be written, Flabi said.

New residents have 30 days to head down to a local state Department of Motor Vehicles office to get a Nevada license and vehicle registration. The driver's license for motorists with valid privileges from another state costs $20.50. But the cost of registering cars in Nevada is a little pricier -- several hundred dollars for a newer car in privilege taxes, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said.

"There are some people who may not do it because of the hassle and others may not do it to try and avoid those privilege taxes," Malone said.

But in each of the first 10 months this year at least 5,300 people a month handed over their out-of-state licenses, DMV figures show. There have been five months this year with at least 7,100 people turning in licenses from their old state for a new Nevada license, according to data from UNLV's Center for Business and Economic Research.

While the number of tickets are up by about 120 percent for both failing to get a Nevada license and registration, the growth rate for the area is only about 5.4 percent a year.

While there may be a popular belief that the state police gets funding through the $95 tickets for failure to purchase Nevada license plates, Flabi says that's not so.

"We don't see a penny of it," he said.

Much of the ticket proceeds goes to the school district in which the ticket was written, he said.

The Highway Patrol gets its money from license and car registration fees, Flabi said.

Sometimes ticketed drivers decide to take the citation to court. But most of the excuses are as feeble as reasons for speeding or running stops signs and don't sway judges.

"Most of the excuses I get are 'I live in California and commute to work,' " Municipal Court Chief Judge Seymore Brown said. "They go back on the weekends. If you work here and make your money here, you've got to get a Nevada driver's license and registration."

Brown also doesn't buy it when people say they are planning on going back to their former state.

"They come up with some reason that they don't really live here like 'I intend to go back to Texas,' but they've been here for six months," Brown said.

But Brown said if someone who has gotten one of the tickets comes into court with a new Nevada license and registration, he will normally dismiss the ticket and impose a minimum fine of $5 with $25 court costs.

Of course getting a Nevada driver's license and registration started taking more time after Sept. 7, when the DMV debuted Genesis -- the $33.5 million computer system designed to speed up lines. The opposite occurred causing lines with six-hour waits. In recent weeks the system's glitches have eased and the lines have moved faster.

While state police citations on out-of-state licenses and registration have increased dramatically, the number issued by Metro Police officers has increased, too, but not by as much. Compared to last year, Metro is handing out 12 percent more tickets for not getting an in-state license and about 15 percent more for not registering a vehicle in state.

"It's always at the discretion of the officers," Metro traffic unit Lt. John Thornton said. "We have never been out looking for those. We concentrate on the violations that cause accidents like running stop signs and unsafe lane changes."