NRS 484B.227 provides some basic rules when driving on what is commonly known as a “divided highway”.
A divided highway is when lanes are going in both directions. The statute specifically states:
Driving on divided highway: Prohibited turns; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone.
What Is NRS 484B.227 About
As stated, this NRS provides the details for turns that would be considered prohibited as well as references another Nevada Revised Statute that pertains to pedestrian and work zones as there could be additional penalties if a driver makes a prohibited turn in one of these zones.
There are a couple of sub-rules within the NRS and the first one really provides the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the statute and what all is involved:
Every vehicle driven upon a divided highway must be driven only upon the right-hand roadway and must not be driven over, across or within any dividing space, barrier or section or make any left turn, semicircular turn or U-turn, except through an opening in the barrier or dividing section or space or at a crossover or intersection established by a public authority.
What Is a Median in a Divided Highway
In basic driving rules, you must keep your car on the right-hand side of the road when operating your vehicle. Staying in your lane is imperative for safety on the roads. When there is space in the middle of the two directions of traffic, it cannot be driven in except for certain reasons.
This is called a median and is intended to separate the different directions of traffic. Sometimes a median can consist of concrete construction that has designs and vegetation planted inside of it.
In southern Nevada, that usually consists of palm trees or other plants that do not need much water. Some medians in Las Vegas even have decorations that match the street name. For example, on Antelope Way on the west side of town (near Rainbow Blvd), the median has antelope designs. Although antelopes are not common in the desert since the street name references it the city thought it was fun to have a matching decorative median.
In the northern part of the state, palm trees are not prevalent and have difficulty growing so pine trees are more common. In many cases though, the median might just consist of an empty lane that is used for separation. This middle lane is not supposed to be driven in except for some specific scenarios. When those scenarios occur (which are spelled out in a different NRS), the driver can only utilize that lane for a short time.
Prohibited Driving Behaviors
NRS 484B.227 explains that a median area (even one that simply consists of an empty lane) cannot be driven across or over when there is a barrier. Left-hand turns, u-turns, and semicircular turns are not allowed.
So when a driver is cruising down the road, they are not allowed to simply make a u-turn whenever they feel like it. That could cause a lot of problems as cars following this type of driver will be impeded and would most likely have to brake quickly.
Therefore, a u-turn is only allowed when there is an opening in the divided section or barrier. Of course, this opening must have been authorized by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). Illegal openings made by some people or created over time by drivers illegally using it are not an excuse and will still get you a traffic ticket in Nevada.
The best way to know if the opening was authorized by NDOT would be to see if there are lines in the roadway that were officially constructed. The same situation exists for left-hand turns. Nevada drivers cannot simply make a left-hand turn whenever they feel like it. It must be done at an intersection or opening of the roadway.
It may seem tempting for a driver heading in the wrong direction to simply make a u-turn or left-hand turn whenever it is convenient for them but that action is prohibited and will earn you a ticket if a traffic cop sees you do it.
Although there may not be any traffic present and it might make perfect sense to make some of these turns through the divided area you are still not allowed to under this statute. Chapter 484 of the Nevada Revised Statutes is the Rules of the Road in Nevada and was set up so that all drivers can be on the same page when it comes to operating their cars on Nevada roadways. If people make up their own rules as they go along it causes safety issues for everyone.
We know at times, that it might be easier and saves time to make turns when most convenient for you but if you are caught by law enforcement officers then you will probably get a ticket. There are multiple law enforcement agencies that patrol the streets and highways of southern Nevada. Most commonly, it would be the police department in North Las Vegas or Henderson Police if you are further to the southwest.
The largest agency in southern Nevada though is the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. They have the widest jurisdiction but cannot enforce traffic laws in other cities such as Boulder City, North Las Vegas and Henderson. Nevada Highway Patrol spans the entire state but mostly patrols the highway systems and not the surface streets.
The second rule of this NRS states that if you are in violation of the statute you could be subjected to additional fines and penalties if you are caught in a work zone.
2. A person who violates any provision of this section may be subject to the additional penalty set forth in NRS 484B.130.
In referencing the other statute (NRS 484B.130) that pertains to work zone violations, it describes what that situation looks like. When there are construction workers performing their duties on the roadway (which can consist of maintenance or repair work) more fines may be assigned to your ticket.
Even if construction workers are not present, a construction zone could still be present. If the highway or road has cones or other traffic obstructions that change the integrity of it then that is a work zone. Examples could include times when the width of the traffic lane is reduced in size or if there is a reduction of lanes due to some kind of maintenance or repair.
Sometimes due to road work or other outside factors, there could be a shift in the lanes. Oftentimes, these are caused when there is surface construction and/or uneven lanes. In most cases, there is a diamond-shaped, orange construction sign designating this type of situation. The signage should also state “DOUBLE PENALTIES IN WORK ZONES” to indicate that penalties are more than usual.
Punishments for violating any of the Rules of the Road are magnified if doing so in a work zone. Punishments can expand to jail time, fines or both depending on the severity of the infraction. If it is the first offense, you could get off a little easier as compared to a driver that has a track record of constantly violating traffic laws in Nevada.
The court system will be the one to assign the punishment for the crime. There is not a separate offense for getting a ticket in a work zone but the punishments are just more significant and tacked on to the citation you originally received.
Cited a Ticket? We Can Help
Although it sounds scary, there are some parameters that the courts must stay within when enacting additional penalties. Per subsection one of the NRS, the penalties may not be more than a combined total of $1,000, one hundred twenty hours of community service and six months of imprisonment.
Even if your ticket was not due to a work zone we can help assist in any case. Our office has helped out more than 50,000 people in the southern part of Nevada and continues to help thousands more each year. We save our clients money in court costs, on their insurance, and with traffic school.
Often times we can get tickets reduced so that fines are less and so that punishments like traffic school are less than what the average citizen fighting the case alone would get.
Ticket Busters is located in Downtown Las Vegas and has been serving the southern Nevada community for many years. We are easily accessible so if you need our assistance do not delay in contacting us. If you are in the area feel free to simply drop by our office during normal business hours. If more convenient you can call or email our office.
If you speak Spanish that is not a problem as we can still help.