Habitual Traffic Offender Status in Florida
HOW DOES A DRIVER BECOME A HABITUAL TRAFFIC OFFENDER IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA?
A driver may become a Habitual Traffic Offender in Florida under several circumstances. The statute which defines this is Florida statute 322.264, and states that if you acquire enough driving charges within a five year time frame, Florida will declare you to be a Habitual Traffic Offender, commonly referred to as HTO status, and suspend your driving privileges for five years.
Florida has what are commonly referred to as “major violations,” and if you are convicted of three or more of these major violations within a period of five years, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will declare you to be a Habitual Traffic Offender. So what are these “major violations”? The list under Florida law includes the following offenses:
- Driving While License Suspended (DWLSR)
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter Resulting From Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Any Felony in the Commission of Which a Motor Vehicle is Used
- Failing to Stop and Render Aid in the Event of a Motor Vehicle Crash Resulting in Death or Personal Injury
- Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle While His or Her Driving Privilege is Disqualified
- 15 Convictions for Moving Traffic Offenses for Which Points May be Assessed
The most common scenario I deal with as a criminal defense attorney involve drivers who are charged and convicted of multiple charges of driving while license suspended. Driving While License Suspended is a charge which can be either criminal or civil, depending on whether the driver had knowledge that his or her license was suspended at the time of driving. Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge is a criminal charge, whereas Driving While License Suspended Without Knowledge is a civil infraction, which means not punishable by jail. Unfortunately, either charge falls under the HTO statute, and three Driving While License Suspended convictions within five years will result in Habitual Traffic Offender status on the driver.
Another very common scenario I have dealt with over the past two decades are cases where a driver is convicted of driving under the influence, which involves a mandatory driver’s license suspension. The driver even after the DUI conviction continues to drive illegally, and is stopped and charged with Driving While License Suspended. Since DUI is considered to be a major violation, it only takes two Driving While License Suspended convictions within five years for our Department of Motor Vehicles to confer HTO status on the driver.
Can I Change My Habitual Traffic Offender Status in Florida, and How Do I Do It?
If you have been declared a Habitual Traffic Offender in Florida, the only way that I am aware to change this is to petition the Courts for relief. That is something I honestly do not believe you can do by yourself. It has been my experience that the Florida Department of Motor Vehicle will not provide any assistance in resolving this situation. If you would like to speak with me AT NO COST about my own cases where I have successfully attacked this problem, feel free to call me at (941) 954-5333, or email me at [email protected]