What Happens if I’m Classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender in Florida?
Driving is a privilege that many Floridians enjoy, but it is important to remember that it is just that. You have no right to drive, so officials can suspend or revoke your license for various reasons. One basis for taking away your driving privileges is if you gain status as a Florida habitual traffic offender which, as the term suggests, involves numerous violations of traffic laws. The penalties are much harsher and may potentially include jail time and sky-high fines.
Being labelled as a habitual traffic offender can significantly impact your job and personal freedoms, which is why you should consult with a Florida traffic violation defense lawyer about your legal options. Some basic information may also help you understand the implications.
Key Definitions Under Florida Law: You could be designated as a habitual traffic offender if you accumulate three or more of the following violations within a five-year period.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Vehicular manslaughter, in which someone died because of an auto accident caused by you;
- Any felony conviction connected to use of a motorized vehicle, such as driving a getaway car;
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license; and/or,
- Leaving the scene of an accident that causes property damage, bodily injury, or death.
For purposes of this definition, a conviction for traffic violations is the key, as distinct from merely receiving a ticket.
Gaining Status Through Points: In addition to the above, you may also be labelled as a habitual traffic offender if you are convicted of 15 or more convictions for moving violations under Florida’s point system. The relevant time period is also five years for traffic citations related to the following:
- Open alcohol while driving, speeding, failing to pay a toll, noncompliance with child restraint laws = 3 points;
- Reckless driving, passing a stopped school bus, running a red light or stop sign, excessive speeding = 4 points;
- Failing to notify owner after causing property damage to an unattended vehicle, speeding resulting in a crash = 6 points.
If you are classified as a habitual traffic offender based upon points or convictions, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to five years. You could be eligible to obtain a hardship license after one year, which would allow you to drive for work, school, or other specified reasons.
However, the stakes are higher if you are caught driving after being designated as such. You could be charged with a Third Degree Felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Discuss Options with a Florida Traffic Violation Defense Attorney
If you have accumulated points through tickets or otherwise gained habitual traffic offender status, you should speak to a lawyer right away. You might be tempted to accept the charges, but you may have options under Florida law. For more information, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office to review your case and discuss strategies.