How Can I Avoid the Mandatory Driver’s License Suspension A Florida Theft Conviction Carries?

In the State of Florida, a little known law exists which few people realize when deciding whether to enter a plea to the charge of theft. That statute, 812.0155, requires that the Judge impose a mandatory driver’s license suspension for anyone who is convicted of theft after a plea or trial. For a first conviction, that license suspension is for a period of up to six (6) months. If the person has previously been convicted of theft, that license suspension is increased to one (1) year.

The license suspension is mandatory, meaning the judge and prosecutor have no discretion, other than the actual length of license suspension for a first offense. However, there are ways to avoid the license suspension from occurring. First, if charges are dropped, or if the person enrolls and successfully completes the PTI program mentioned above, there is no driver’s license suspension. Second, a person who is charged but is found not guilty will not receive any suspension of license.

The final way to avoid having your driver’s license being suspended is to successfully negotiate the sentence with the judge and prosecutor to “withhold adjudication.” A negotiated sentence which withholds adjudication means that the person accused is not formally convicted of the theft. If this happens, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not suspend your driving privileges. A withholding of adjudication may also entitle you to have your record sealed, which is discussed on the following page. Since most people are not formally trained in handling such negotiations, it is preferable to have an experienced attorney who can deal with the Judge and the prosecutor assigned to your case.