Habitual Traffic Offender Designation
Our lawmakers in the state of Florida have created one of the most complex and convoluted suspended license statutes in the country. In Florida, where public transportation is rare and unreliable, taking someone’s drivers license can severely affect their ability to find gainful employment or to simply get around town. When people discuss the “vicious cycle” of the criminal justice system, the suspended license system of Florida comes to mind. The laws cause people to lose their drivers license, people are forced to drive because there is no other good way to get around, those same people face more fines, and more criminal charges that only make it harder to regain their driving privileges. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, you should consult with a dedicated St. Petersburg Criminal Defense lawyer immediately.
Your license can be suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons. If you have unpaid traffic tickets or court costs your license will be suspended. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI or even some drug possession offenses, your license will be suspended. If you have unpaid child support payments, your license will be suspended. And if you have been involved in an accident and you did not have car insurance, your license will be suspended. When your license is suspended for any or all of these reasons, it is likely that there will be significant fees that will hinder your ability to get your license back.Habitual Traffic Offender Designation
The embodiment of the “vicious cycle” of Florida’s suspended license statute is the Habitual Traffic Offender designation. Essentially, if you are convicted of three qualifying traffic offenses in a five year span, you will be designated a Habitual Traffic Offender by the Florida DMV. Qualifying offenses include driving with a suspended license, DUI, and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries. The Habitual Traffic Offender designation has several unfortunate consequences.
The most severe result of a Habitual designation is that your license will be suspended for a period of five years. You can only apply for a hardship license after you wait one year from the designation. Additionally, if you are caught driving at any point, the one year period starts over. The DMV is extremely strict in their enforcement of the HTO designation and will often deny requests for hardship permits for minor reasons. If you have been designated a Habitual Traffic Offender or are at risk of the designation, it is important that you speak to an experienced St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer before it is too late.
The Habitual Traffic Offender designation also comes with additional consequences and penalties. If you are charged with a new offense of driving with suspended license while you have a habitual designation, you can be charged with a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. While it may seem absurd to send someone to prison for simply driving a car, such sentences are not as uncommon as we would hope. Too often however, people suffer the consequences of the HTO designation simply because they lack the financial means to pay for the hefty fines involved in retaining a driver’s license.
Because of the complexity of drivers license suspensions, it is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in reading and interpreting license records. If you have received a Habitual Traffic Offender suspension, all is not lost. Though difficult, there are ways to undo the designation and the accompanying suspension under certain circumstances.Contact a Traffic Criminal Lawyer in St. Petersburg Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law have years of experience reading, interpreting and fighting unjust license suspensions. We know what to do in order for you to retain and regain your driving privileges. If you find yourself with a suspended license, don’t allow yourself to be caught in the vicious cycle. Contact our skilled St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyers at (727) 897-5413.