As the weather finally starts to cool down in South Florida, what could be better than a cruise down Worth Avenue or a family trip to City Place? How about a weekend getaway to your favorite coastal town? If your license is suspended, all of your exciting plans can vanish. Driving with a suspended license is a serious offense, and getting caught can lead to several hardships. Unfortunately, thousands of drivers in Florida don’t know their licenses have been suspended, putting them at risk of being arrested and charged with a criminal offense if they’re stopped by the police.
Driving with a suspended license is just one of several offenses that may lead to a five-year license revocation if the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles designates you as a Habitual Traffic Offender. Being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) in West Palm Beach is a serious blow to a person’s freedom. Anyone with a driver’s license runs the risk of becoming an HTO when he or she is convicted of a serious traffic offense three or more times within a 5-year period, or when the driver accumulates a significant number of points on their license.
Understanding What it Means to be a Habitual Traffic Offender
A person who is designated a Habitual Traffic Offender in West Palm Beach is someone who has lost their driving privileges for five years. This is a person who has been found guilty of at least three traffic crimes within a five-year period, according to Statute 322.264 of Florida Law. Anyone who faces a charge of any of the following driving offenses should seek experienced legal counsel immediately:
- Voluntary vehicular manslaughter
- Involuntary vehicular manslaughter
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death
- Vehicle involved in the commission of a felony
- 45 points against a driver’s license in 5 years or 15 convictions of moving violations
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
Those who have a suspended license and don’t even know it already have one “strike” against their license, bringing them closer to becoming an HTO. Although the odds of having an HTO designation removed might appear slim, working with a competent criminal traffic lawyer as early as possible can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a successful result.
What if I’m caught driving while being an HTO?
It’s extremely challenging to avoid driving when your way of life in South Florida depends on it. If you were caught driving as an HTO, however, you could be convicted of a third-degree felony offense without a strong defense. A third-degree felony in Florida is punishable by:
- A fine of $5,000; and//or
- A prison sentence of 5 years.
Being arrested for the third time for driving with a suspended license is a third-degree felony offense when the State has a prior felony conviction. More information can be found in Florida Statutes 322.264 and 322.34(5).
You do not want to develop a criminal history over a traffic offense. If you were caught driving as an HTO, you’re not alone. The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel can help you undo some of the past damage and protect your license before it’s too late.
Fighting Against Felony Traffic Charges in West Palm Beach
One approach your criminal defense lawyer can take is to challenge your previous traffic convictions. This could require the prosecutor to prove the underlying convictions which led to you becoming an HTO beyond a reasonable doubt before he can claim that you were driving as an HTO.
To learn more about challenging traffic charges, call Brian Gabriel at 561-622-5575. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has fought license suspensions for more than 30 years as a criminal traffic attorney in West Palm Beach. He has helped countless people resolve long-standing traffic issues that prevented them from driving their cars without fear of legal repercussions. See what he can do for you by completing a contact form.