No one is perfect, however when our imperfections lead us to too many traffic offenses, we can lose our Florida Driver’s license for five years. This is most often known as being a “Habitual Traffic Offender” or “HTO”. The State of Florida feels that people who make it a habit to violate traffic laws should be strongly discouraged from driving on our roads and should be faced with a firm punishment.
There are a few different events that can lead to HTO status, all of which must occur within a five-year period. The most common is to have three offenses of driving while license is suspended or revoked. It is important to remember that this includes convictions as well as cases where withheld adjudication. Some people make the mistake of believing that because adjudication was withheld and no conviction occurred that these cases are not counted when it comes to determining whether someone is should is a HTO. The HTO sentencing guidelines do examine how many points your license has, they count your convictions and withholds instead. Further, no distinction is made as to whether or not you “knowingly” drove while your license was suspended or not.
HTO status lasts for five years and requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) to revoke your license, but there are things that may be done to get you back on the road. After sufficient time and class work, a hardship license may be issued to allow you some right to drive, but with restrictions. After the five year revocation is over, you must petition the DMV to have your license reinstated. A hearing may be required to determine whether or not your reinstatement can be granted or if you should have an alternative, restricted license.
An alternative to suffering the five-year hardship of HTO status is to explore the option of reopening your previous convictions (or withholds). If you were not appraised of all of your rights and did not properly understand the implication of your earlier conviction, it may be possible to vacate your earlier plea and explore alternative charges and pleas. By re-visiting one or more cases in this manner a person may be able to avoid HTO status and continue their driving life like the rest of us.
If you have recently been placed in HTO status, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer for a free consultation to explore your options and see if keeping your license is an option for you by calling (904) 685-1200.