Nebraska Traffic Violations

Traffic Violations in Nebraska

It is crucial for anybody who drives in Nebraska to understand what behaviors may lead to a traffic violation or charge. Even though most traffic violations identified by the state are infractions or minor crimes, they still have serious repercussions, such as expensive fines, increased insurance rates, and the suspension of one's driver's license. Some may even lead to felony or misdemeanor charges.

Generally, traffic violations comprise unlawful activities committed on the road or with a vehicle. For example, drunk driving, speeding, driving with an expired or suspended license, hit and run, and illegal parking. These violations can either be civil or criminal.

A civil traffic violation is one where no serious injury, wreckage, or loss of life occurs. This offense is usually dealt with in a traffic court within the Nebraska court system, and can appear on a person’s driving record. It often leads to legal penalties such as fines and community service.

Meanwhile, a criminal traffic violation refers to a traffic offense that involves property damage, bodily harm, death, or other aggravating factors. Typically, the criminal court handles this type of offense, and a guilty conviction can cause a driver to lose their license, freedom, and pay steep fines. A common example of a criminal traffic violation is driving under the influence (DUI).

Except for serious traffic violations, like a DUI, that can lead to an arrest, traffic offenders are usually ticketed on the spot, or the tickets will be mailed to them if the crime involves parking or running a red light.

Types of Traffic Violations in Nebraska

Ordinarily, traffic violations are either criminal or civil offenses in Nebraska, but they can also be classified as moving violations and non-moving violations.

The distinction between a moving and non-moving violation is a simple one. A driver can be accused of a moving violation if their vehicle was moving when a violation occurred. Examples of moving violations include:

  • Running a red light
  • Drunk driving
  • Improper turn
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Hit and run
  • Failure to comply with a police stop order

In contrast, a non-moving violation occurs when a vehicle is stationary, parked wrongly, or operated with faulty equipment. Examples of non-moving violations include:

  • Parking near a fire hydrant
  • Parking in a prohibited area
  • Parking in front of a driveway
  • Parking at an expired meter
  • Using a mobile phone while driving
  • Driving with an expired or suspended license
  • Driving without a seatbelt
  • Driving without proof of insurance
  • Driving with an expired registration or tag
  • Driving with defective equipment (e.g., bad brakes)

Moving violations are subject to harsher penalties than non-moving offenses. This is because a moving vehicle is more likely to cause death or permanent bodily injury to others. In addition to legal sanctions, a driver convicted of a moving violation may have license points recorded against them by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. For example:

  • 1 to 4 points for speeding
  • 6 points for irresponsible driving
  • 2 points for failing to yield to a pedestrian
  • 6 points for driving under the influence
  • 4 points for careless driving
  • 6 points for leaving an accident scene

If a motorist accumulates a specific number of points (12 points in two years, counting from the date of the last violation), it will result in the suspension of their driving privileges. In other words, every moving traffic violation brings a driver closer to losing their license in Nebraska.

Nebraska Traffic Violation Code

The Nebraska Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act contains the state's traffic violation legislation. These laws regulate vehicle operation on the state's highways and roads, as well as the punishments imposed on drivers who violate traffic laws.

Nebraska Felony Traffic Violations

In Nebraska, felony traffic violations are offenses that have an aggressive, reckless, or intentional factor. As a result, they often lead to death, serious bodily injury, or property damage. For example, a driver cannot receive a traffic felony charge if caught speeding in Nebraska. However, if the act causes bodily injury or death, the charge may be escalated to a felony.

It is also worth mentioning that a traffic offense can become a felony if it reoccurs, i.e., if a previous offender commits another offense. Examples of felony traffic violations in Nebraska include:

  • Hit and run
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI)

If a driver is convicted of a traffic felony, the likely consequences include:

  • Suspension or permanent loss of the driver's license
  • Increase in insurance premiums
  • Impoundment or towing of the vehicle used to commit the offense
  • A permanent criminal record
  • Incarceration

Nebraska Traffic Misdemeanors

Nebraska traffic misdemeanors are offenses that carry a maximum punishment of one year in jail, a fine, or both. Traffic misdemeanors in Nebraska are often classified into three categories:

  • Class III misdemeanors: $500 fine or up to 3 months in jail.
  • Class II misdemeanors: $1,000 or up to 6 months in jail.
  • Class I misdemeanors:$1,000 or up to 1 year in jail.

Traffic misdemeanors in Nebraska include:

  • Driving with a suspended, revoked, or expired driver's license
  • Evading a police arrest
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Careless or reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence (no priors)
  • Racing on a highway
  • Leaving an accident scene
  • Possession of marijuana while driving

Nebraska Traffic Infractions

Traffic infractions in Nebraska are non-criminal offenses whose greatest punishment is a fine. Typically, the fines attached to traffic infractions are lower than those of traffic misdemeanors and traffic felonies. Other penalties associated with such offenses include community service, traffic school, and negligent points. Examples of traffic infractions include:

  • Driving without a seatbelt
  • Illegal turn
  • Using a cellphone while driving
  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Overtaking and passing another motor vehicle in a school crossing zone

Nebraska Traffic Violation Codes and Fines

Traffic violations committed in Nebraska often result in the payment of fines to the state. However, the amount that an offender will eventually pay depends on the offense's severity and what the law says. Usually, these fines must be paid promptly, or the offender may be forced to pay additional late fees.

According to Rule 6-1455 of the Nebraska Supreme Court Rules, the court must determine the amount that an offender will pay for a traffic violation. This fine schedule is reviewed each year and can be retrieved from the judicial branch's website.

How to Pay a Traffic Violation Ticket in Nebraska

Depending on the Nebraska traffic ticket issued, an offender may pay for a traffic violation ticket online, by mail, or in person. Generally, an individual can only pay a waiverable traffic ticket (i.e., a ticket where the "waiver allowed" box is checked). If the ticket mandates a court appearance, payment is not accepted until the offender appears in court.

Anyone who wishes to pay a traffic ticket online must use the Waiverable Citation Payment System. This system will process the original fine and an additional transaction fee. Offenders can pay with either an eCheck or one of the major credit cards listed on the website.

To pay via mail, an offender must send a money order or check for the amount stated in the ticket. Also, the citation/ticket number must be written boldly and clearly on the check, and it should be indicated on the ticket that the offender is pleading guilty. All should be mailed to the court address on the citation.

For in-person payments, an offender should visit the courthouse listed on their citation. A court's address, business hours, and contact information can be obtained from the judicial branch's County Court Contacts page. It is important for an offender to call the court before visiting to ask for the accepted forms of payment.

Ultimately, people cited for a waiverable traffic violation in Nebraska are expected to pay before the due date indicated on their tickets. Failure to comply can lead to additional late fees and the suspension of one's driver's license. When unable to pay before the due date, it is better to ask for a one-time extension or a payment plan from the court than ignore the ticket/citation.

Traffic Violation Lookup in Nebraska

Individuals can look up traffic violations in Nebraska using the one-time driver license search application provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, this online service is subject to a compulsory $7.50 fee per search. The information required to query the system includes:

  • A driver's first name.
  • Last name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Driver's license number or social security number.

It is also possible to order one's driving record from the Nebraska DMV to look up traffic violations. Interested parties can submit an application for a copy of their driving record to the DMV via mail (the appropriate address is written on the application form). Like the online search service, a requester must pay a nonrefundable $7.50 fee to obtain a copy of their record by mail.

How to Plead not Guilty to a Traffic Violation in Nebraska

In Nebraska, every road user issued a traffic ticket has the right to contest their ticket and request a trial if wrongfully accused. However, offenders should ensure that they have evidence to support the claim and can devote time to court hearings. Contesting a traffic violation is known as "pleading guilty".

The process for pleading guilty may vary by county, but will generally include:

  • Meeting a state prosecutor to reach a plea agreement. If an agreement can be reached, a lesser penalty will be assessed. If not, the offender will have to go to court and present their case (arguments, witnesses, and evidence) to a judge.
  • The county judge will then decide if the individual is guilty or not.

If found guilty, the offender will likely pay a fine, have points added to their driving record, have their license suspended, or lose their freedom for some time.

What Happens if You Plead No Contest to a Traffic Violation in Nebraska

A no-contest plea (also known as nolo contendere) is favored by defendants who wish not to challenge the accusation or penalties brought against them but, at the same time, wish not to admit guilt to an offense. In Nebraska, traffic offenders have the option of pleading no contest once every five years. Nevertheless, even if an individual is eligible for a no contest plea, the judge has the final say on whether to accept the plea or not.

A no contest plea is an immensely effective tool for those charged with minor traffic violations in Nebraska. When utilized appropriately, it allows an individual to avoid incurring points on their driver's license. However, it may still cause the person's insurance provider to raise premiums due to the DMV's report of the violation.

Generally, pleading no contest to a traffic violation does not imply that an offender would receive a lesser sentence. Instead, the party will be sentenced as if they had entered a standard guilty plea, but the offense will not be entered on their record.

How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay on Your Record?

The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports all traffic violations that led to a conviction on a person's driving record. The period of reporting is five years.

Within this time, the traffic violation record can impact the offender's life. For example, most insurance companies will view the record holder as a high-risk driver, which leads to higher insurance premiums.

Can Traffic Violations Be Expunged/Sealed in Nebraska?

Yes, traffic violations can be expunged or sealed in Nebraska. An expungement in Nebraska involves the removal of all criminal history record information relating to a case. According to the Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-3523, certain traffic offenses can be expunged or sealed if certain requirements are met. For example, if a defendant was acquitted, pardoned, or the charges were never filed.

However, it should be noted that the traffic convictions of adult offenders cannot be expunged in Nebraska, only set aside. Ordinarily, once a person is convicted of a traffic offense in Nebraska, the conviction stays on their record forever. Even if the court sets aside the conviction, it will not deter public examination. The original conviction will still be viewable, but the set-aside order will be added next to it.

What Happens if You Miss a Court Date for a Traffic Violation in Nebraska?

Missing a court date in Nebraska is a severe violation that can lead to further criminal penalties, including:

  • Driver's license suspension
  • A jail term
  • Additional fines
  • An active arrest warrant
  • The judge may hold the traffic offender in contempt of court

Generally, when unable to make a court date, an individual is advised to call the court clerk for rescheduling as soon as possible. If the date has already been missed, a few defenses are available to the offender. Concerning a failure to appear, most courts will accept one of two defenses. Both presume that the offender did not intentionally miss their court date.

The first defense is that the offender did not receive a notice to appear. This is applicable if one's ticket does not contain a court date. The second defense is that the offender could not appear in court due to an unforeseen circumstance. A good example could be when an offender gets involved in an accident on the way to court.

However, the best thing to do after missing a court date is to settle the issue with the court before an arrest takes place. The judge may be willing to schedule another hearing, even if it will result in extra charges.