Felony Driving While License Suspended

In most cases, driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified (frequently abbreviated as DWLS) is a misdemeanor offense. A DWLS arrest, however, can result in felony charges in some cases.

A felony DWLS offense is much more serious than misdemeanor charges because a person not only faces bigger possible fines but also the possibility of a longer prison sentence. One of the most common reasons that people face felony DWLS charges is because multiple prior traffic convictions led to the drivers being designated as habitual traffic offenders (HTOs).

Attorney for Felony Driving While License Suspended Defense in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Were you arrested in South Florida for driving with a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified driver’s license? You should exercise your right to remain silent until you are able to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A..

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers aggressively defend clients in communities all over the Palm Beach County area, such as Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, Greenacres, Delray Beach, and many others. Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.


Overview of Felony Driving While License Suspended in Palm Beach County


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Felony Driving While License Suspended Penalties in Florida

Florida Statute § 322.34(2)(c) establishes that driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified is a third-degree felony when the offense is an alleged offender’s third or subsequent conviction. Under Florida Statute § 322.34(5), the crime is also a third-degree felony if the alleged offender drove while his or her license was revoked pursuant to being classified as an HTO.

Florida Statute § 322.34(6)(b) also states that DWLS can be a third-degree felony when a person drives while his or her license was canceled, suspended, or revoked, and by careless or negligent operation of the motor vehicle causes the death of or serious bodily injury to another human being. Finally, DWLS is also a third-degree felony under Florida Statute § 322.34(7)(b) when a person drove a commercial motor vehicle while his or her driver’s license or driving privilege was canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified and he or she has been previously convicted of DWLS.

A third-degree felony in Florida is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.


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HTO Designation for Drivers in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 322.264, an HTO is defined as any person whose record, as maintained by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), shows that he or she has accumulated a specified number of convictions for offenses described in Florida Statute § 322.264(1) or Florida Statute § 322.264(2) within a five-year period.

Florida Statute § 322.264(1) establishes that three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts will result in HTO status:

  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Any driving under the influence (DUI) violation;
  • Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
  • Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
  • Failing to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another; or
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.

People will also be classified as HTOs under Florida Statute § 322.264(2) if they accumulate 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed as set forth in Florida Statute § 322.27. Traffic offenses for which points may be assessed include speeding tickets, passing a stopped school bus, and reckless driving.


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Palm Beach County Felony Driving While License Suspended Resources

Driver License Check | Florida DHSMV — Visit this section of the DHSMV website to check the status of your Florida driver’s license. You can access your driving record by entering your driver’s license number and a CAPTCHA answer. The check will display "VALID" if the agency has received information and cleared your record.

Burgess v. State, 198 So. 3d 1151 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) — Donald Burgess was convicted of driving while his license was revoked, but he reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss because he never actually had a Florida driver's license. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and sentence after concluding that Burgess could not be convicted for being a habitual traffic offender when he had never held a driver's license. While the Third District Court of Appeal agreed with the Second District’s decision in Burgess, both the Fourth and Fifth District Courts of Appeal have held that people can be convicted of violating Florida Statute § 322.34(5) even if they were not issued driver’s licenses. Broward and Palm Beach Counties are in the Florida Fourth Disrict Court of Appeal. Miami-Dade County is in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.


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Find a Felony Driving While License Suspended Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale

If you were arrested for driving on a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified driver’s license in Palm Beach County, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents individuals in communities throughout Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Miami-Dade County.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can fight to possibly have your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options as soon as you call (561) 557-8686 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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