Section 322.34(5) of the Florida Statutes makes it a 3rd degree felony for anyone whose license is suspended or revoked as a Florida Habitual Traffic Offender to drive a motor vehicle. In 2008, the Florida legislature adopted section 322.34(10)(a)6 which states if the offender does not have a prior forcible felony conviction, and if the person is designated an Florida Habitual Traffic Offender as a result of the suspension of the license because of purely financial defaults, the offender is only to be punished for a misdemeanor.
The Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals recently decided a case (Wyrick v. State, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D2666b) where a Florida Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) was arguing that she should not have been charged with a felony. Wyrick was convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in 2004 and two Driving with a License Suspended or Revoked (DWSL) in 2006 for driving w/out insurance. Thus, the two DWSL offenses were financial responsibility suspensions. She was labeled HTO and subsequently was charged with an additional DWSL as a felony. The Florida court ruled that Wyrick only partially attained her HTO status from her financial defaults. Without the DUI, the two DWSL would not have resulted in her HTO status. Because of the DUI, she was able to be charged with a felony.