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Florida Traffic Laws: The Habitual Traffic Offender

Many drivers find themselves in the crosshairs of the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Driver’s License Division, when they commit three offenses of certain designated violations within a 5-year period to become “habitual traffic offenders” (HTO). This status often means fines, penalties, and increased insurance costs. You can avoid this type of classification by getting good legal advice before paying any traffic citation.

What Does Habitual Offender Status Do?

When you are designated a habitual offender, Florida DHSMV will send you a letter informing you of the designation and informing you that your license will be revoked for at least five years. At this point, it is imperative you get good legal counsel. A good lawyer can reverse an “HTO.”

When is Habitual Traffic Offender Status Triggered?

In Florida, someone is considered a “habitual traffic offender” if they have specific types of traffic convictions. If you have three or more of any of the following convictions (three “strikes”) in a five-year period, then you are considered a habitual offender.

  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter
  • Any felony that involves the use of a motor vehicle
  • Driving a motor vehicle when your license is suspended or revoked
  • Failing to stop and render aid (hit and run accidents)
  • Operating a commercial vehicle when you are not qualified to do so
  • Driving under the influence

For Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR) cases, even when not convicted, it may count as one of your three “strikes.” Anyone charged with DWLSR should obtain competent legal counsel to avoid a “strike.”

You are also considered a habitual offender if you have 15 or more moving traffic offenses. These include things like speeding, failure to yield, or running traffic lights.

Many people do not even realize that they are considered a habitual offender until they get a notice in the mail from the DHSMV. Even after you get this notice, however, a good lawyer can still take action to vacate prior convictions and remove this classification.

Fighting Back Against Habitual Offender Status

Most people ill-advisedly just pay the fine, not knowing they are getting a “strike” against their license. If you think you may be on the edge of habitual offender status, it is a good idea to retain an attorney to do a license check and potentially challenge prior or current traffic charges, and always retain counsel on any traffic offense. In many cases, drivers have a legal defense or can otherwise avoid a conviction, a “strike.”

Depending on the timing of your charges, you may also be able to set aside prior convictions. Taking off just one of those convictions can often help you remove your habitual offender status.

Get the Legal Help You Need

Malcolm Anthony can help you deal with traffic convictions that put you in habitual offender status. Losing your license for five years and having increased insurance costs can put a severe financial strain on you and your family. Fight back with Malcolm Anthony. Call today: 904.285.4529 (4LAW).

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