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9 Surprisingly Illegal Things in Las Vegas

Brian J Smith Oct. 14, 2013

Stopping here could get you a ticket.

Las Vegas is often perceived as a city where anything goes (afterall, it’s nicknamed Sin City). However, this isn’t actually the case. Beyond the glitz and glamor of the Strip, Las Vegas is a city like any other, with laws like any other. Yet visitors are often surprised to find out that these laws actually exist. Here are nine things that, believe it or not, are illegal in Las Vegas.

9. Bath Salts

No, not the stuff you find next to the shampoo aisle, the street drug commonly referred to as “bath salts.” In January 2012 bath salts were classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Nevada Board of Pharmacy, making them illegal in this state. Before the legislation was passed, Las Vegas was a center for bath salt production and had a high rate of hospitalizations related to its use. Of course, declaring bath salts to be illegal has not wiped them completely out in Nevada, but you could be fined up to $5,000 and given a 1-4 year prison sentence if you’re caught with bath salts.

8. Texting While Driving

This dangerous activity makes drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in a accident, leading 39 states to enact laws banning this activity. Nevada became one of these states in 2011. If caught texting while driving, you can be fined $50 for your first offense, $100 if you do it again, and $250 for each subsequent offense. Be aware that even texting while stopped at a red light is included in the law and is also subject to these fines.

7. Catching a Cab On the Strip

It’s actually illegal for a taxi to stop and pick someone up on the street, regardless of whether or not they have a passenger. The only place you can legally get a cab is outside the baggage claim area at the airport or at the main entrance of a hotel. The lines can be long, but they usually move pretty quickly. If you’d rather not stand in line, you can always call one of the 16 cab companies in Las Vegas and arrange to be picked up.

6. Drinking Alcohol Within 1,000 Feet Of a Church

It is legal to carry an open bottle of alcohol on the street in Las Vegas, but there are restrictions. One place you’re not allowed to drink alcohol is within 1,000 feet of a church, so if you’re planning on getting married while in Las Vegas, don’t start drinking on the street right outside the wedding chapel or your celebration could be cut short.

5. Prostitution

Nevada is the only state to allow prostitution, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not legal in Las Vegas. All of Nevada’s heavily populated counties outlaw prostitution, including Clark County. The vast majority of Nevadans live in areas where it’s illegal, and even in the counties where it is legal, it’s only allowed at regulated brothels. Penalties for prostitution in Las Vegas can include fines of up to $1,000 and six months in prison.

4. Marijuana

This may contradict the “Sin City” perception, but Las Vegas actually has some of the harshest drug penalties in the country. In Nevada, marijuana use is a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $600 for having less than one ounce in your possession.Other penalties could include possible assignment to a drug treatment center. If you’re caught with more than one ounce you could be fined up to $5,000 or 1-4 years in prison. Las Vegas drug laws are quite strict, especially when it comes to marijuana, so it’s best not to take the risk.

3. Fireworks

Unfortunately, fireworks are illegal throughout Clark County, including the city of Las Vegas. The only time it’s legal to have fireworks is the week before the Fourth of July, and even then, they must be sold by licensed vendors approved by the fire department and carry the “Safe-N-Sane” logo indicating that they won’t explode or leave the ground once they’re ignited. If you’re caught with illegal fireworks, the maximum penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail.

2. Gender Discrimination for Promotional Purposes

In the state of Nevada, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender for employment, wages, or promotional purposes, the latter being decided upon in 2008 when a man filed a lawsuit against a Las Vegas gym for giving women free memberships but requiring men to pay. This type of discrimination is now illegal. However, an amendment was added to the law in 2011 that allowed businesses to promote ladies’ night type events, as long as it wasn’t their usual practice to allow women to pay less than men.


Jay-walking is one of the most disregarded laws out there, but it is indeed still illegal. If you’re caught, you could face fines up to $200 and citation headaches similar to a traffic ticket.

Contrary to popular belief, the laws of the country still apply in Las Vegas. If you ever find yourself in need of a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, contact Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248.