Once the DMV classifies you as a habitual traffic offender, your license will be suspended for 5 years. An experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney, who is well-versed in driving while license suspended matters and HTO issues, may be able to reverse the 5 year suspension, get you your license back and maybe even have driving while license suspended charges dismissed.
Having a driver’s license is extremely important in the Tampa Bay Area and in central Florida if you want to be able to work, buy groceries, be able to go to school or doctor’s appointments.
The Florida DMV will classify you as a habitual traffic offender if you have 3 or more qualifying convictions in a 5 year period. If the DMV labels you a habitual traffic offender, they will suspend your driver’s license for 5 years. If you get another qualifying conviction after being labeled a habitual traffic offender, the DMV will extend your driver’s license suspension.
Per Florida statute there is a list of offenses that will lead to you being habitualized and having your license suspended for 5 years. These qualifying offenses are:
DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
Driving While License Suspended (both the payable civil infraction without knowledge and the criminal offense of Driving While License Suspended With Knowledge). • Driving a commercial motor vehicle while the privilege is suspended
Vehicular Manslaughter (voluntary and involuntary)
Leaving the Scene of an Accident resulting in death or personal injury
Committing certain felonies while driving a motor vehicle
15 moving violations (traffic tickets) for which points have been assessed within a 5 year period.
You may be able to ask the DMV to give you a hardship license but you will have to wait at least 1 year after receiving the HTO suspension. Additionally, your insurance company may raise your fees substantially if you only have a hardship license and you are only able to drive for very limited purposes and if you fail to abide by the restrictions, you are facing a possible arrest and criminal charges.
The most common way people end up getting habitualized is by having 3 or more driving while license suspended charges on their driving record within a 5 year period. A lot of times people do not even realize that just paying 3 tickets for Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
Without Knowledge can lead to a 5 year HTO driver’s license suspension. The first time, they will notice is after they already paid the tickets or sometimes entered a plea in court and they receive a letter from the DMV telling them that their license has been suspended due to them being considered a habitual traffic offender.
Here is what counts as a “qualifying conviction” for DMV purposes:
Paying a civil infraction ticket for DWLSR without knowledge
Receiving a Withhold of Adjudication (no criminal conviction) for DWLSR with knowledge - even though the court will tell you this is not a conviction, the DMV will still count this as a qualifying conviction for HTO purposes
Receiving a conviction for DWLSR with knowledge
As you can see even if you just pay a ticket or receive no criminal conviction for Driving While License Suspended, the DMV will still count these as a conviction for HTO purposes. That is why it is never a good idea to enter a plea to DWLSR or pay a ticket for the offense without talking to an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney.
You already have a 5 year HTO suspension, maybe because you paid some tickets for DWLSR without realizing that paying this ticket would result in a 5 year suspension or maybe because you entered a plea to a DWLR charge in court after being promised a withhold of adjudication and just a fine. Now what?
If you received a letter from the DMV telling you your license is suspended for 5 years and you are a habitual traffic offender, contact an attorney who handles HTO suspensions and driving while license suspended cases in Tampa, Florida. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you whether or not it is possible to overturn the suspension and get you your license back. Depending on the circumstances, the 5 year HTO suspension may be reversed simply by filing the appropriate motion in court.
As you can see a lawyer who handles Driving While License Suspended charges and HTO suspensions on a regular basis may be able to help you get your charges dropped and get your license back even if the situation seems hopeless. Kerstin Wade has more than a decade of experience handling habitual traffic offender charges. She has an office only a couple of miles from the Tampa courthouse. If you are charged with DWLSR or have an HTO suspension, contact Kerstin Wade immediately at 813-401-0130 for a free consolation to see how we can