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Habitual Traffic Offender Florida

Habitual Traffic Offender Florida

Driving is a privilege that millions of people in Florida enjoy, but it can also be revoked by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). While drivers can lose their right to get behind the wheel for multiple reasons, this page will focus specifically on individuals who are labeled as habitual traffic offenders (HTO).

To be classified as a habitual traffic offender in the state of Florida, a person’s driving record must show they have accumulated a specific number of convictions for driving-related offenses, which will be explained further below.

Someone classified as a habitual traffic offender in Florida can face harsh penalties that include jail time, fines, and the possible permanent revocation of your driver’s license. There are also stiff consequences for individuals who are caught driving after being labeled as a habitual traffic offender. This page will provide definitions, legal statutes, and the consequences of being declared a habitual traffic offender. Additionally, we will delve into the ways you can attempt to challenge an HTO suspension through an administrative hearing.

Tallahassee Habitual Traffic Offender Defense Lawyer

If you have been labeled as a habitual traffic offender in Leon County or have recently been charged with driving while labeled as an HTO, consider talking with an experienced attorney at Pumphrey Law. Our defense attorneys can analyze the facts in your case to aid you in resolving any underlying charges resulting in your status.

Our attorneys are knowledgeable regarding Florida’s traffic laws and will work toward a positive resolution for your alleged offense. Pumphrey Law represents drivers throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee in Leon County, Monticello in Jefferson County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Quincy in Gadsden County and Bristol in Liberty County. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

Florida Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations Information

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What is a Habitual Traffic Offender?

Florida Statutes Section 322.264 defines a habitual traffic offender (HTO) as a person whose Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles record shows an accumulation of three or more convictions for separate offenses within a 5-year timeframe, including:

  • Driving under the influence;
  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter;
  • Driving while a license was suspended or revoked (DWLSR);
  • Failing to stop and render aid in the event of a motor vehicle crash; or
  • Any felony resulting from the use of a motor vehicle.

The habitual traffic offender status also can result from 15 moving traffic violation convictions within five years under the Florida point system.

A moving traffic violation is whenever a driver fails to follow State traffic laws while the vehicle is in motion. Examples of moving violations include:

  • Speeding;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Running a red light;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign;
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals;
  • Changing lanes without signaling; and
  • Driving without insurance.

Important: Florida law states that any violation of law similar to the statutory prohibitions listed above, whether it be federal law, the law of another state or country, or any other valid ordinance, shall be counted as a violation that goes toward an HTO status.

Florida’s Point System

According to FLHSMV, the Florida point system is a graduated scale that assigns value to different driving-related offenses. Each time you are ticketed for a driving-related violation, there may be points added to your driving record. As we mentioned above, accumulating above a certain number of points within a given period can result in an HTO designation, license suspension, or license revocation. Numerous traffic violations will lead to excessive points, and a higher likelihood that a driver will be classified as an HTO.

Fifteen or more of these violations within five years will result in being classified as an HTO. FLMHSV lists the following point values for some of the most common traffic offenses:

  • Speeding – 3 points
  • Careless driving – 3 points
  • Failure to yield – 3 points
  • Driving with an open container of alcohol – 3 points
  • Child restraint violation – 3 points
  • Toll violations – 3 points
  • Reckless driving – 4 points
  • Accident caused by another moving traffic violation – 4 points
  • Running a red light – 4 points
  • Driving during restricted hours – 4 points
  • Passing a stopped school bus – 4 points
  • Speeding over 15 miles over the speed limit – 4 points
  • Crash caused by a speeding violation – 6 points
  • Leaving the scene of a crash with property damage more than $50 – 6 points

If you are uncertain about how many points are on your driving record, you can check the status of your license by using FLHSMV’s Online Driver License Check. If you’ve received a high enough number of points for an HTO designation, contact the defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm.

What are the Consequences for an HTO?

Florida Statutes Section 322.27(5) provides the consequences for an HTO. A person labeled as a habitual traffic offender faces a license revocation for a minimum of five years. The statute explains that an HTO is not eligible to be relicensed for five years from the date of revocation. However, it is imperative to note the following statutory sentence: “Any person whose license is revoked may, by petition to the department, show cause why his or her license should not be revoked.”  

Additionally, if you are caught driving after having your license revoked as an HTO, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. A conviction for a third-degree felony carries up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Florida Statute Section 322.34(8)(a) explains that the arresting officer must determine the following after arresting a person for driving with their license suspended or revoked:

  1. Whether their driver’s license is suspended or revoked, or if the person has been placed under supervision or revocation status;
  2. Whether the driver’s license has remained suspended or revoked, or the person has been under supervision or revocation equivalent status, since a conviction for the offense of driving with a suspended or revoked license;
  3. Whether the suspension, revocation, or suspension was relating to the failure to maintain required security, or relating to habitual traffic offenders; and
  4. Whether the driver is the registered owner or co-owner of the vehicle.

Given that the arresting officer finds in the affirmative as to all the criteria listed above, then they are given authorization to immediately impound or immobilize the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle then has a 10-day window to file a complaint to determine whether it was wrongfully taken or withheld.

 

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Hardship License for Habitual Traffic Offenders

Even if you have already been designated as an HTO, you may be eligible to receive a “hardship license” which allows you to drive to and from work.

Important: You will not be eligible to receive a hardship license for the first year after your license has been revoked. However, Florida Statute Section 322.271 explains that a person designated as an HTO and had their license revoked can petition through their local Administrative Reviews Office for the reinstatement of their license after 12 months from the date of revocation.

Filing a petition will lead to an investigation into the person’s qualification, fitness, and overall need for driving reinstatement. After a hearing will be held to determine whether the person’s driving privileges will be reinstated on a restricted basis for business or employment purposes.

To successfully win the petition for a hardship license, the driver will need to first show proof of the completion of an Advanced Driver Improvement program, along with paying the reinstatement and other fees. If alcohol was involved in your HTO status, then you will also be required to attend Driving Under the Influence classes.

When you hire an experienced defense attorney, they can help by filing the petition for a hardship license on your behalf after you have completed the Advanced Driver Improvement School. If you have any questions regarding your HTO status or the process of obtaining a hardship license in Florida, contact Pumphrey Law Firm.

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Are There any Defenses to a Habitual Traffic Offender License Revocation?

Being considered a habitual traffic offender may seem like a stigma you cannot overcome. However, there are defenses to consider when trying to keep your right to get behind the wheel. In certain cases, there are steps you can take to restore your driving privileges prior to the one-year mark for a hardship license or waiting the full five years for the license revocation to end. For example, a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee can file a motion to vacate or a motion to set aside a conviction.

These motions basically request the court to set aside a previous judgment or court order by challenging the validity of their prior conviction or plea. A successful challenge can result in a violation or conviction being lifted from the driving record. Someone who is a habitual traffic offender has up to two years after his or her license was revoked to file this motion.

A driver who believes their license was suspended for an unjustified legal reason can request an administrative record review hearing. Keep in mind that a person in this situation only has 30 days after their license was suspended to make this request.

Reasons for justifying an administrative review hearing include:

  • Information was inaccurately recorded on the citation;
  • Mistaken identity;
  • Errors on your Florida driving record; or
  • More than five years separated the three violations leading to your habitual traffic offender status.

If you’ve recently received a notice notifying you of an HTO designation and license revocation, contact a defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the possible avenues to try and save your license.

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Finding A Tallahassee Habitual Traffic Offender Attorney

If your Florida driver’s license has been suspended as a habitual traffic offender, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the details of your case. Our experienced traffic violation attorneys may be able to find a defense or file a motion to receive a hardship license or drop the five-year revocation. Each case is different, which is why we advise contacting our office for a free case evaluation.

Contact us at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about your alleged traffic offenses.


Page Updated November 22, 2023

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