Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer » Blog » As More Californians Move to Nevada, a Look on How Traffic Laws Differ

As More Californians Move to Nevada, a Look on How Traffic Laws Differ

Nevada is an appealing state to move to – its proximity to major metropolitan areas, its growing cities like Las Vegas and Reno, and a myriad of other economic and social factors makes the state enticing, especially to residents of its neighboring states. However, this exodus of residents from our neighboring states to Nevada comes with concerns. As traffic fatalities continue to rise in Nevada, it’s necessary to note that traffic laws can significantly differ from state to state, and some new residents may be unaware of Nevada traffic laws.

In 2023 the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance reported that almost forty percent (38.3 %) of those who moved to the city in 2022 were from California. [1] Data from the U.S Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that for every thousand Nevada residents, fourteen are newcomers, and an estimated more than sixty-thousand Californians had moved to Nevada since 2019 [2].

I’m Moving to Nevada – How do I Obtain a Nevada’s Drivers License?

If you have moved to Nevada from another state, and need to apply for a Nevada driver’s license, you will need the following documents:

  • Proof of Identity, and Proof of all name changes if the current name differs from the one on the Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Social Security number
  • Two documents proving your Nevada residential address
  • Existing State-issued license or ID Card
  • Nevada Application for Driving Privileges filled out

Once these documents are received by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, you will also be required to take a vision test to obtain your license. Additionally, some may be required to take a knowledge test—if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Under the age of Twenty-one
  • Three or More Convictions of Moving Violations in the past four years
  • Previous State’s License or Privilege to drive has expire or surrendered for more than one year
  • Suspended, Revoked, Canceled, or other Disqualifications of one’s drivers license within the last four years
  • A DUI conviction within the past seven years [3]

In addition to the conditions listed above, if one has restrictions listed, they may have to be re-tested. Transfer of driver’s licenses between states only applies to the same class of license, and if you would like a different class of license, another knowledge test may be required.

Differences in California and Nevada Traffic Laws

With the influx of Californians moving to Nevada, it is important to note that despite their proximity to each other, there are many differences in traffic laws between the two states.

Shawn Haggstorm, a State Trooper in Southern Nevada,  notes one of the biggest differences is motorcyclists’ inability to lane split—a difference that is confusing to both motorcyclists and those behind the wheel. In Nevada, lane splitting is illegal, and a motorcyclist cannot be in the same lane as a car and weave between other motor vehicles through traffic. While this has been legal in California since 2017, it can carry a fine starting at almost two-hundred dollars, and increases after each offense. [4]

Additionally, Nevada has stricter penalties for DUI crashes, and a driver convicted of driving under the influence and causing a fatal accident can be sentenced to between two and twenty years of prison with no opportunity for parole in Nevada. In contrast, in California, a driver may be sentenced with probation to thirty years in prison.  [7]

Another important difference between Nevada and California traffic laws is in regards to child safety seat requirements. In Nevada, children under the age of six or under sixty pounds are required to be in a car or booster seat. This is slightly more lenient than California which requires any child under eight years of age to be secured in a car/ booster seat. [5]

With regards to registration and the sale/purchase of a car, there is a major difference between California and Nevada.  In California, License plates belong to the car; unlike Nevada, California license plates are issued to the vehicle itself, not the owner. There are some exceptions to the rule, for instance personalized plates or special program plates, but generally standard plates are retained by the seller in Nevada.  An additional difference, is the sales tax incurred when registering a car.  You may need to pay sales tax on the vehicle purchase price when registering it in California, whereas Nevada has no state sales tax. However, Nevada does have a governmental services tax (GST) based on the vehicle’s value.

Lastly, Haggstorm notes the difference in penalties for speeding between the two states. In Nevada, if you travel thirty miles over the speed limit, your driving is deemed reckless. This can result in both jail time as well as a minimum fine of $1,240 dollars.  In California, reckless driving is typically fifteen miles over the speed limit, and fines are nine-hundred dollars, with a risk of losing one’s license after multiple offenses. Despite Nevada having stricter reckless driving and speeding penalties, Haggstorm notes that the frequency of reckless drivers is often higher in Nevada, due to less traffic in the state. [6]








Summerlin Location

11441 Allerton Park Dr #100
Las Vegas, NV 89135

Phone: 702-684-6900

Fax: 702-382-9798

Downtown Location

626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Phone: 702-382-9797

Fax: 702-382-9798

Henderson Location

9230 S Eastern Ave #155
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Phone: 702-463-2900

Fax: 702-382-9798

Reno Location

1320 E Plumb Lane Ste A
Reno, NV 89502

Phone: 775-600-6000

Fax: 702-382-9798

Nevada Personal Injury Attorney

Joseph L. Benson II, and Ben J. Bingham, Personal Injury Attorneys

Free Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.