Motor vehicle crimes in Nebraska, due to their potential to harm other road users, are treated with considerable seriousness. These offenses can range from minor infractions to more serious misdemeanors and even felonies. As opposed to civil traffic infractions, traffic-related crimes like Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are criminal in nature and can result in far more serious penalties and repercussions. Felony motor vehicle offenses carry the most severe punishments, which may include lengthy prison terms and significant fines. Below, Liberty Law Group provides a detailed overview of the common types of motor vehicle offenses encountered in Nebraska. This includes an explanation of the different levels of penalties, possible alternatives to incarceration, the defenses that can be used by those accused, and how a criminal defense attorney can assist in these cases. Understanding this information is crucial for individuals charged with such crimes, as it helps them to know their rights and explore the legal options they have.

Defense Attorney for Traffic Crimes in Omaha and Lincoln

At Liberty Law Group, our attorneys represent those charged with criminal offenses that occur on the road. These include DUI offenses in Nebraska, OWI offenses in Iowa, and other traffic related criminal offenses like racing or hit-and-run charges. Our firm represents people all across Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, including the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion, and Council Bluffs. This includes the Nebraska counties of Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders, Dodge, Cass, and Washington as well as the Iowa counties of Pottawattamie, Harrison, and Mills. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a traffic crime, don’t hesitate to call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case with one of our experienced traffic defense attorneys.

Nebraska Traffic Law Information Center

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Specific Criminal Misdemeanor / Felony Traffic Offenses in Nebraska

  • Hit and Run Causing Property Damage – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §60-696, it is unlawful for a driver involved in an accident resulting in property damage not to stop at the scene and provide personal identification details. Specifically, this law requires that a driver involved in such an accident must immediately stop, and offer their name, address, telephone number, and driver’s license number to other parties. Furthermore, if the property damage involves an unattended vehicle or property, the driver is required to leave a written notice with these details on the damaged property and also report the collision to a police officer without delay. A violation of this law is classified as a Class II misdemeanor. However, if the individual has prior convictions of this type, the new violation is a Class I misdemeanor. Additionally, the court may revoke the individual’s license for a year.
  • Hit and Run Causing Injury or Death – According to Nebraska Revised Statutes §60-697 and §60-698, it is a criminal offense where a driver involved in an accident that results in injury or death fails to stop, identify themselves, and assist the injured person. This law specifically classifies such an offense as a Class IIIA felony if the accident results in injury (other than serious bodily injury) or a Class III felony if it results in death or serious bodily injury. Additionally, upon conviction, the court requires a driving ban ranging from one to fifteen years and revokes the offender’s driver’s license for the same period.
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle to Avoid Arrest | Fleeing from Police – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-905, it is against the law when a person drives a vehicle or boat to flee and evade arrest or citation. This offense is classified differently based on specific circumstances: as a Class I misdemeanor for a standard violation, and as a Class IV felony if the act includes prior convictions, causes death or injury directly related to fleeing from police, or involves willful reckless operation. Additionally, for felonies, the court may order the revocation or impoundment of the driver’s license for two years, and for misdemeanors, up to one year.
  • Racing on Highways – As defined by Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,195, racing means driving any vehicle on a highway in a race, speed competition, drag race, endurance test, or for setting a speed record. It also includes participating in such activities. This law classifies racing on highways as a Class II misdemeanor.
  • Reckless Driving – As defined by Nebraska Revised Statute §60-6,215, reckless driving involves operating a vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a disregard for the safety of other individuals or property. The specific classification for a first offense of reckless driving under this law is a Class III misdemeanor.
  • Willful Reckless Driving – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §60-6,214, willful reckless driving means operating a motor vehicle with a deliberate disregard for the safety of persons or property. This law classifies willful reckless driving as a Class III misdemeanor for a first offense. Additionally, the court prohibits the convicted individual from driving any motor vehicle for a period ranging from thirty days to one year from the date ordered by the court.
  • Motor Vehicle Homicide – As defined by Nebraska Revised Statute §28-306, motor vehicle homicide occurs when a person unintentionally causes the death of another while operating a motor vehicle in violation of Nebraska state law or local law. The classification of motor vehicle homicide varies: it is a Class I misdemeanor under general circumstances, a Class IIIA felony if the death is caused by reckless driving, and a Class IIA felony if caused by DUI. Additionally, if the defendant has a prior DUI conviction, it escalates to a Class II felony. In cases involving Class IIA and II felonies, the court requires a driving ban ranging from one to fifteen years, with a revocation of the driver’s license for the same period.
  • Driving Without a License – It is against the law to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or alley without carrying a valid driver’s license. This offense is classified as a Class III misdemeanor. Additionally, the driver will receive one point on their driving record. Repeatedly driving without a valid license is a felony. An exception is made for drivers who have been issued a license but are unable to display it when requested by an officer; they also face a misdemeanor charge but without the penalty of points on their driving record.
  • Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License – Driving with a revoked or suspended license in Nebraska involves operating a motor vehicle when one’s driving privileges have been legally taken away. Generally, driving with a suspended license is classified as a Class III misdemeanor. However, driving with a revoked license is a Class II misdemeanor for a first offense, with a potential one-year ban on driving in the state. The law also specifies different penalties for driving under suspension due to involvement in a fatal accident, which is considered a felony and potentially leading to a 15-year revocation period.

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Infractions, Misdemeanors

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-106, the following penalties for infractions and misdemeanor offenses apply:

  • Infraction – up to a $500 fine.
  • Class V Misdemeanor – up to a $100 fine.
  • Class IV Misdemeanor – up to a $500 fine.
  • Class IIIA Misdemeanor – up to 7 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
  • Class III Misdemeanor – up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
  • Class II Misdemeanor – up to 6 months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
  • Class I Misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

Misdemeanor charges are normally brought in county courts in Nebraska. For example, in Omaha, individuals face misdemeanor charges in Douglas County Court. In Lincoln, individuals face misdemeanor charges in Lancaster County Court.


According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-105, the following penalties for felony offenses apply:

  • Class IV Felony – 0-2 years in prison followed by 9-12 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Class IIIA Felony – 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Class III Felony – 0-4 years in prison followed by 9-24 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $25,000 fine.
  • Class IIA Felony – 0-20 years in prison
  • Class II Felony – 1-50 years in prison
  • Class ID Felony – 3-50 years in prison
  • Class IC Felony – 5-50 years in prison
  • Class IB Felony – 20 years to life in prison
  • Class IA Felony – life in prison
  • Class I Felony – death sentence

Felony charges are brought in district courts in Nebraska.

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Probation for Misdemeanors, Felonies

In Nebraska, probation is an alternative to imprisonment, allowing individuals to remain in the community under specific conditions, instead of serving jail time. This option, not available for habitual criminals or certain felonies with mandatory minimum sentences, involves compliance with court-imposed requirements. These can include lawful behavior, employment or education maintenance, confinement periods, rehabilitation sessions, and financial obligations. Successful completion of probation may lead to setting aside the conviction, but failure to comply can result in revocation and potential imprisonment. Conditions vary per individual and are aimed at rehabilitation and public safety.

In Nebraska, Problem Solving Courts, including Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court in Douglas and Lancaster Counties, offer alternatives to traditional incarceration for individuals charged with certain motor vehicle crimes. These courts focus on rehabilitation for non-violent offenders with substance abuse or mental health issues. Participants undergo treatment, monitoring, and support, potentially leading to dismissed charges upon successful completion.

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How Misdemeanor and Felony Motor Vehicle Crimes Are Prosecuted In Nebraska

In Nebraska, motor vehicle crimes, whether misdemeanors or felonies, follow specific legal processes. Misdemeanor cases begin with a law enforcement investigation, potentially leading to an arrest, summons, or citation. Following this, individuals face a bond hearing and arraignment in county court, where they can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A guilty or no contest plea results in sentencing, potentially involving fines, jail, or probation. Pleading not guilty leads to a bench or jury trial, with subsequent sentencing if found guilty, or acquittal if not guilty.

Felony motor vehicle crimes also start with a law enforcement investigation. An arrest or felony complaint leads to a bond hearing and a preliminary hearing in county court. Post preliminary hearing, the case, if not dismissed, moves to district court with the filing of an “Information.” The arraignment in district court again allows pleas of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A guilty or no contest plea involves a presentence investigation followed by sentencing. A not guilty plea leads to a trial and potential sentencing upon a guilty verdict, or acquittal otherwise.

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How Traffic Infractions Are Handled in Nebraska

In Nebraska, when a driver disobeys traffic laws, they receive a traffic ticket. This ticket usually leads to fines and points on their driving record, the severity of which depends on the violation. Accumulating too many points can result in license suspension or revocation, or at least the need to take a driver improvement course by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers have several options to address a traffic ticket. Paying the fine is the most straightforward method, but it equates to admitting guilt and accepting the associated consequences. Alternatively, a driver can negotiate a plea bargain (almost always with a lawyer’s assistance) to reduce the charge, which often leads to lesser fines and fewer points. Another option is to plead not guilty and go to trial. This allows the driver to contest the charge in court. If successful, they can avoid fines and points. However, if found guilty, they risk higher fines, court costs, and points on their driving record.

In Nebraska, traffic offenses are usually processed in county courts, including city ordinance violations, infractions, and misdemeanors. Defendants typically receive a citation indicating a court date, which can also be delivered by mail or sheriff. For offenses eligible for waiver, defendants can plead guilty without a court appearance, paying fines and costs electronically or by mail. If waiver isn’t an option, or if contesting the charges, court appearance is mandatory. The judge explains rights, charges, and potential penalties. Guilty verdicts lead to sentences that may include fines, jail, or probation.

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Police Requirements For Pulling Someone Over

In Nebraska, police officers have the authority to conduct traffic stops based on specific legal requirements. An officer can pull over a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has occurred or is occurring. This includes observable offenses such as speeding, running a red light, erratic driving, or equipment violations like a broken taillight. In all cases, the officer’s decision to stop a vehicle must be based on objective criteria and cannot be arbitrary. Once a vehicle is lawfully stopped, officers may ask for the driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. If during the stop the officer develops probable cause to believe a more serious offense has been committed, they may conduct an investigation, which could include searching the vehicle.

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Potential Defenses to Criminal Traffic Offenses in Nebraska

  • Challenging the Evidence – In Nebraska, one common defense against a traffic ticket or offense is challenging the accuracy and reliability of the evidence. This can include questioning the calibration and proper functioning of speed detection devices used by law enforcement, such as radar or laser guns. Additionally, the defense can argue against the officer’s subjective interpretation of events, especially in situations where the officer’s viewpoint could have been clouded or in the absence of clear video evidence.
  • Questioning Officer Conduct – Another defense strategy involves examining the conduct of the law enforcement officer during the incident. This could include scrutinizing whether the traffic stop was legally justified or if the officer followed proper procedure in administering field tests and gathering evidence. In cases where procedural errors are evident, the defense can argue that the evidence obtained should be deemed inadmissible.
  • Presenting Contradictory Evidence – A defense may also involve presenting contradictory evidence. This could include eyewitness testimony, video footage from dashcams or nearby surveillance cameras, or GPS data to challenge the officer’s or other witnesses’ accounts of the event. This evidence can be particularly powerful in disputing claims about the driver’s behavior or the circumstances leading to the alleged offense.
  • Legal and Technical Defenses – Legal and technical defenses can also be used, such as arguing that the traffic signs were not visible or properly posted, or that there was a legitimate emergency situation that justified the defendant’s actions.

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Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney in a Nebraska Traffic Ticket or Vehicle Crime Case

Assessing the Severity of Charges

A criminal defense attorney plays an important role in evaluating the severity of charges faced by an individual in Nebraska for a motor vehicle offense. Depending on whether the offense is classified as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony, the attorney helps the accused understand the potential consequences they face, including the likelihood of imprisonment, the scale of fines, and the impact on their driving privileges. This initial assessment is important for setting realistic expectations for the client.

Representing the Client in Court Proceedings

For those charged with motor vehicle offenses in Nebraska, a criminal defense attorney provides representation in court proceedings. This includes arraignments, pre-trial hearings, trials, and, if necessary, sentencing hearings. The attorney’s role includes advocating for the client’s rights, cross-examining witnesses, presenting evidence, and arguing legal points that could influence the outcome of the case.

Negotiating Plea Bargains

In many cases, a criminal defense attorney can negotiate plea bargains with prosecutors for individuals charged with motor vehicle offenses in Nebraska. This process involves the attorney working to reduce charges, minimize potential penalties, or arrange alternative sentences like probation instead of jail time. Negotiating a plea bargain can be particularly beneficial for clients facing serious charges, as it may lead to reduced legal consequences.

Challenging Evidence

Criminal defense attorneys often challenge the evidence presented against their clients in motor vehicle offense cases. This could involve questioning the accuracy of speed detection devices, the legality of a traffic stop, or the reliability of witness testimonies. By scrutinizing the evidence, an attorney can uncover errors or inconsistencies that might lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges.

Advising on Legal Rights and Options

An important function of a criminal defense attorney in Nebraska motor vehicle offense cases is advising clients on their legal rights and options. This includes explaining the legal implications of different pleas, the potential outcomes of going to trial, and the rights of the accused during police interactions and court proceedings.

Resolvinhg License Issues

For motor vehicle offenses that involve the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license, a criminal defense attorney can assist in navigating the complexities of Nebraska’s licensing laws. This might include advocating for restricted driving privileges, helping with license reinstatement procedures, or representing the client in administrative hearings related to their driving status.

Exploring Alternative Sentences

In some cases, criminal defense attorneys can explore alternative sentences for clients charged with motor vehicle offenses in Nebraska. These alternatives might include community service, participation in driver education programs, or attending substance abuse treatment programs, depending on the nature of the offense. These alternatives can be particularly beneficial for clients looking to avoid jail time and mitigate the long-term impact of their charges.

Protecting Future Opportunities

Finally, a criminal defense attorney helps protect the future opportunities of individuals charged with motor vehicle offenses in Nebraska. This includes seeking to minimize the impact of a conviction on employment prospects, educational opportunities, and other areas where a criminal record could have detrimental effects. The attorney’s efforts can have a positive impact on the client’s life beyond the immediate legal case.

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Driving Records in Nebraska

In Nebraska, driving records are protected under federal and state privacy laws, limiting public access. Personal details like name, address, and license number can only be released with the record holder’s consent. Certain agencies, like law enforcement, can access some information without consent. Nebraska’s DMV offers three types of driving records: a 5-year record, a complete record, and a clearance letter for former residents. These can be accessed online, in person, or by mail.

Removing Driving Offenses From An Individual’s Record

In Nebraska, options for addressing driving offenses vary based on the offense’s circumstances and the legal avenues available. For minor traffic citations, individuals may be eligible for the Safety Training Option Program (S.T.O.P.), which allows for dismissal of the citation upon completion of a safety class. This option avoids fines, court appearances, and points on the driver’s license.

For more serious offenses resulting in arrests but not convictions, expungement is possible, making records publicly inaccessible. This applies to wrongful arrests or cases without prosecution. However, for offenses leading to convictions, expungement isn’t an option. Instead, individuals can seek a set-aside order. If granted by a judge, this order nullifies the conviction and restores civil rights. This process is applicable for misdemeanors and felonies and requires demonstrating good conduct, employment, and community service. The decision to grant a set-aside order lies with the court and is not guaranteed.

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Additional Traffic Law Resources

Information on Nebraska hit and run laws: Includes general hit and run statistics. Provides details on Nebraska state laws and penalties for types of hit and run offenses, as well as links to studies and sources of more information.

Crash Facts: A summary of factors of causes of motor vehicle crashes. Explains that over 30,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes in the country every year. Also notes that the number of Nebraska traffic-related deaths has gone down since the 1970s, but the number has increased since 2011.

Nebraska Department of Transportation: Provides information on driver’s license accident suspensions for drivers who failed to report serious accidents. Discusses reporting requirements for accidents and proof of financial responsibility duties of drivers and reinstatement requirements for those who have had driving privileges suspended.

Nebraska Point System for driving records: Includes a chart showing the points that go on a driving record with a reckless driving conviction. Explains that various violations of driving laws each add points to a driving record, and that too many points (12 in two years) will result in the loss of driving privileges. Includes a table of all traffic violations that will add points to a driving record, including “reckless driving (rash, heedless, dangerous)” that adds five points and “willful reckless driving (deliberate and intentional)” that adds six points.

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Hiring a Traffic Defense Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our defense attorneys are skilled and experienced with defending criminal traffic cases. We represent each client with compassion and dedication to providing the best possible service in pursuit of the best possible outcome for each case. Our firm proudly represents people from the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion, Council Bluffs and surrounding areas of Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, and Pattawattamie counties. If you or a loved one has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony traffic offense, don’t hesitate to contact our firm immediately to request a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.

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