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Traffic Offenses

Tallahassee Traffic defense attorney

Florida legislators have created specific laws regarding the operation of motor vehicles to keep drivers safe. These laws characterize driving violations as either civil or criminal offenses. Depending on the type of driving infraction you are accused of traffic violations can result in fines, points on your driver’s license which could lead to a suspension or being faced with criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor or felony offense.

This page will give an overview of the diverse types of traffic offenses in Florida, and their resulting penalties. If you or someone you love has recently been charged with a traffic offense in Florida, consider hiring an experienced defense attorney.

Attorney for Traffic Violations in Leon County, FL

After being charged with a criminal traffic offense in Leon County or the surrounding North Florida area, contact a criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience representing Floridians fighting the criminal charges against them. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call our lawyers at (850) 681-7777 to find out what you need to do today to protect yourself against criminal prosecution and to keep your driving privileges.

Pumphrey Law represents clients charged with serious traffic violations in Leon County and the surrounding areas of Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit. This includes Wakulla County, Gadsden County, Liberty County and Jefferson County, plus the cities of Crawfordville, Quincy, Bristol, and Monticello.

What is a Traffic Violation?

Whenever a person of legal driving age gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they accept the responsibility of adhering to the laws that govern our roads. If a driver ignores or neglects the specific driving rules in their state, they have committed a traffic violation.

The two basic types of traffic tickets in Florida are moving violations and non-moving violations.

Moving violations occur when a driver fails to follow the traffic laws while their vehicle is in motion. Examples include speeding, running through a stop sign, texting while driving, or driving while under the influence.

Non-moving violations occur when a vehicle is not in motion. Examples include parking illegally, having an expired license plate, or a broken taillight.

It is important to differentiate between civil traffic violations and criminal traffic violations. A civil violation will only result in a fine and is usually given out for infractions such as speeding or running through a red light. A criminal violation is for more serious infractions which result in the driver being charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Getting convicted of a criminal traffic violation can lead to incarceration, expensive fines, and the possibility of losing your driving privileges.

Most Common Criminal Driving Infractions

Florida Statute Chapter 316 covers the State Uniform Traffic Control. A large portion of infractions listed here make up the non-criminal traffic violations. However, there are also multiple statutes in place for the more serious, criminal traffic violations that result in charges for either a felony or misdemeanor.

The following lists common criminal driving infractions represented by Pumphrey Law Firm:

  • Driving with a Suspended License (DWLS) – Florida Statute Section 322.34(2) explains that any person who operates a motor vehicle while their driver’s license has been suspended, cancelled, or revoked and knowingly did so can result in a second-degree misdemeanor. A second conviction can result in a first-degree misdemeanor. A third or subsequent conviction can result in a third-degree felony, depending on the specific case detail.
  • No Valid Driver’s License – Florida Statute Section 322.03 provides that a person may not operate any motor vehicle unless they have a valid driver’s license issued by the State. Driving without a valid license can result in a second-degree misdemeanor. A person who makes a false affidavit concerning a driver’s license can result in a first-degree misdemeanor. If a person operates a motor vehicle without a valid license and causes the death or serious injury of another person can result in a third-degree felony.
  • Driving on a Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension (HTO) – Florida Statute Section 322.34(5) explains that any person who has been designated a “habitual traffic offender” and is caught operating any motor vehicle can face a third-degree felony.
  • Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Damage to Vehicle or Property – Florida Statute Section 316.061 provides that a person involved in a motor vehicle wreck that causes only damage to the vehicle or property must stop and remain at the scene of the crash until they have fulfilled their lawful duty. Failure to stop after causing damage in a crash can result in a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • False Crash Reports – Florida Statute Section 316.067 explains that any person who provides any false information in oral, written, or electronic reports pertaining to a crash can result in a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Reckless Driving – Florida Statute Section 316.192 provides that any person who operates a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. A first conviction results in up to 90 days of imprisonment and fines between $25 and $500, and a second or subsequent conviction results in up to 6 months of imprisonment and fines between $50 and $1,000. If the person accused of reckless driving causes damage to the property or person of the other driver, it could result in a first-degree misdemeanor. If the person accused of reckless driving causes serious bodily injury to another person, it could result in a third-degree felony.
  • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer – Florida Statute Section 316.1935 provides that it is unlawful for any person operating a motor vehicle to willfully refuse to stop or attempt to flee or elude a law enforcement officer when they are attempting to stop them. A first conviction results in a third-degree felony. If the driver drives at high speed or in a reckless manner while trying to flee the police, or if they cause injury to another person while trying to flee, it can result in a second-degree felony.
  • Unlawful Weight and Load – Florida Statute Section 316.545 explains that any Florida Highway Patrol officer who reasonably believes a person is operating a motor vehicle with an unlawful weight or load is authorized to require the driver to pull over and submit to weighing. A driver who refuses to submit to a weighing can result in a first-degree misdemeanor. If the driver knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes the weighing by refusing to submit with violence, it can result in a third-degree felony.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Florida Statute Section 316.193 provides the details for driving under the influence in Florida. A DUI charge implies that the person operating a motor vehicle had their normal faculties impaired by alcohol or controlled substances, or they had a breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol. As DUI cases are complex, we recommend reviewing our informative landing page here for more details on the specific penalties.
  • DUI Manslaughter – Florida Statute Section 316.193 explains that when a person operates a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol and causes the death of another person or unborn child, they can be charged with DUI manslaughter. DUI Manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony, unless the driver failed to stop and render aid or give their information, which would then be a first-degree felony.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV)’s Annual Uniform Traffic Citation Report, there were a total of 3,159 reported criminal traffic violations in Leon County during 2022. The violations with the most reports included:

  • Driving while License Suspended – 1,302 violations
  • Driving without a Valid License (or expired) – 754 violations
  • DUI – 423 violations
  • Leaving the scene of an accident – 208 violations

Pumphrey Law Firm represents individuals who are facing criminal charges for a traffic offense. Contact our firm today to discuss your case details in a free consultation when you call (850) 681-7777 or send us a message online.

Florida Driving Point System

Florida has created a point system to track a person’s driving violations. The system works by assigning points for certain types of traffic offenses. If someone accrues too many points from the system within a specific time frame, they can have their license suspended or revoked.

Florida’s Uniform Traffic Citation Manual provides information on the associated point penalties. If you have received a traffic violation citation, then you may be assigned the following points for each violation:

  • Toll violations – 3 points
  • Speeding 15 miles or less over the speed limit – 3 points
  • Parking on a highway – 3 points
  • All other moving violations – 3 points
  • Child restraint violations – 3 points
  • Driver in possession of an open container – 3 points
  • Speeding more than 15 miles over the speed limit – 4 points
  • Passing a stopped school bus – 4 points
  • Driving during restricted hours – 4 points
  • Running a red light – 4 points
  • Reckless driving – 4 points
  • Crash caused by any other moving violation – 4 points
  • Leaving the scene of a crash with more than $50 in property damage – 6 points
  • Crash caused by a speeding violation – 6 points

If a person accumulates 12 points within one year, it can result in a license suspension for 30 days. If 18 points are accumulated within one year and a half, it can result in a license suspension for 90 days. If a driver accrues 24 points within three years, it can result in a license suspension for one year.

To avoid points from a moving violation ticket, the driver is typically offered the option to attend traffic school. However, it’s worth noting that the election to go to traffic school is only offered once per year, and only five times within a 10-year period. A person who chooses this option must first notify the Clerk of Court that he or she intends to attend traffic school for a moving violation citation. You can also avoid points on your license if the court “withholds adjudication” so that you are not convicted of the offense. Important: The option for traffic school is not available to those with a commercial driver’s license.

If your license has been suspended due to too many violation points, you may be eligible to receive a hardship license by completing a 12-hour Advance Driving Improvement course, pay the required fee for reinstatement, and any other required fees.

Habitual Traffic Offenders

Individuals who have received several traffic tickets can be labeled as a habitual traffic offender.

Florida Statute Section 322.264 defines a habitual traffic offender as someone who has accumulated a specific number of criminal convictions or offenses within a five-year period. Once a person is declared a habitual traffic offender, they can have their license suspended for up to five years, or permanently revoked.

To read more about habitual traffic offenders in Florida, refer to our informative page here.

Penalties for Criminal Traffic Violations

Penalties associated with criminal traffic crimes in Florida depend on the severity of the offense. Florida Statutes Section 775.082 and 775.083 list the criminal penalties for each degree of offense as follows:

  • First-degree felony – A conviction carries up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Second-degree felony – A conviction carries up to 15 years of in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Third-degree felony – A conviction carries up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000
  • First-degree misdemeanor – A conviction carries up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000
  • Second-degree misdemeanor – A conviction carries up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500

Defenses to Criminal Traffic Violations

Even if you have already been charged with a criminal traffic violation, there are multiple defenses that can be used, depending on the details of your case. For example, the driver may have had no idea that they were even committing a crime in cases such as driving with a suspended or expired license or registration.

Additionally, getting charged with a criminal traffic violation implies the presence of a police officer who issued the charge during the traffic stop. In these cases, an experienced Florida defense attorney can help determine if any of the following defenses are applicable to your case:

  • Defendant contests the legality of the traffic stop;
  • Defendant was never read their Miranda warnings;
  • Evidence collected by the law enforcement officer was seized illegally; or
  • The law enforcement officer lacked probable cause to make the arrest or issue the notice of a criminal traffic violation.

Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777 today to receive a free case evaluation.

Traffic Violation Resources in Florida

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

The Florida FLHSMV website contains information about driver’s licenses, driving resources, vehicle registration, driving records and traffic education schools. It also includes resources on license plates, first-time drivers, ID requirements and fighting a ticket. A local office in Leon County is located at:

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

1210 SE Capital Circle

Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Ph.: (850) 488-4735

Florida Highway Patrol

The Florida Highway Patrol maintains law enforcement and traffic safety awareness and promotes safe driving throughout Florida. The site focuses on providing information concerning the roles and responsibilities of the patrol along with resources on driver licenses, vehicle tags, and registration, office locations and relevant forms. The office in Tallahassee is located at:

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP)

Neil Kirkman Building

2900 Apalachee Parkway

Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Ph.: (850) 617 – 2301

Tallahassee Police Department

The City of Tallahassee’s police department website, which contains crime safety tips, records, and information for residents and visitors of Tallahassee. It also includes resources on the various divisions within the department, along with a contact us section. The police department is located at:

234 East Seventh Avenue

Tallahassee, FL 32303

Ph.: (850) 891-4200

Finding a Traffic Offense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

If you have been charged with a traffic violation in Leon County, Tallahassee, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss the details of your case. The attorneys will help you determine if there are defenses or mitigating circumstances to reduce your charges or have them dismissed. Contact Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message for a free consultation about your traffic violation.

Let us put our experience to work for you.

Page Updated December 13, 2023

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