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Habitual Traffic Offenders

If you’ve received a notice from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) that you have officially been labeled as a “Habitual Traffic Offender” (HTO), then it’s imperative you secure legal representation. Your status as an HTO could lead to your driver’s license being revoked for up to five years. 

DHSMV has distinct classifications for what they consider to be “high risk” drivers. These are known as habitual traffic offenders who received their status by being convicted of three serious traffic offenses within a 5-year term. Not only could your license be revoked due to your HTO status, but your car insurance rates may spike drastically.

If you or someone you know has been given an HTO notice by DHSMV, then it’s within your best interest to gain skilled legal representation. 

Fort Lauderdale Attorney for Habitual Traffic Offenders in FL

If you or someone you know has been given HTO status by the State of Florida, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. With our experience on both the defense and the prosecution side, our firm has a unique perspective on cases that gives us an advantage. Get in contact with us now to learn your possible legal options.

Our office handles multiple kinds of traffic offenses, both criminal and civil, with cases such as reckless driving, speeding, or driving while license suspended in Florida. Our consultations are free, and our attorneys are available to fight to get your charges dropped. Call (561) 557-8686 to schedule a face-to-face appointment with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. practices throughout the greater Palm Beach County area and in the surrounding counties of Broward County, Miami-Dade County, FL.

Overview of HTO Status in FL 

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What is Considered a Habitual Traffic Offender in Florida?

Florida has distinct statuses for drivers who are considered to be dangerous due to their past traffic record. A habitual traffic offender is a label by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) that is triggered by accumulating a specific number of traffic points in a certain time period. Violations that occur in other states or in the federal jurisdiction are also totaled when determining a person’s HTO status.  Being an HTO could result in spiked insurance premiums and a revoked license.

Florida law states you can be given HTO status by DHSMV if you have been convicted for three or more of the violations listed below within five years. 

  • Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter;
  • Current or former DUI laws;
  • Any felony where a motor vehicle was used during the crime;
  • Driving a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license;
  • Failing to stop and render aid when involved in crash with serious injury or death; or
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a disqualified CDL 

The Department doesn’t just label drivers as HTO based on traffic crimes. If you have been convicted of moving traffic violations for 15 times within a year you could be labeled an HTO.  These moving violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlawful speed or use or a wireless communication device resulting in a crash;
  • Passing a stopped school bus;
  • Leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage;
  • Permitted the unlawful or fraudulent use of your driver’s license;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Running a red light or stop sign;
  • Improper lane changes
  • Rolling stops; and
  • Following another car too closely (tailgating)

Being labeled an HTO will result in a license suspension not to exceed 5 years. In addition, they will be unable to obtain a hardship license until they have served out one year of their suspension.

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What Are the Penalties for Driving as a Habitual Traffic Offender in FL?

Violating the conditions of your suspension and driving while you are labeled as an HTO can lead to serious consequences. An arrest for driving as an HTO is a third-degree felony. The maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include:

  • Five years in a state prison; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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How to Get Your License Reinstated in FL

It’s common for drivers who were given HTO status by the DHSMV to simply wait until their suspension terms are over to get their license reinstated. However, it’s important you know that you can fight to get your driving privileges reinstated. You can contest your suspension by filing a request for an HTO hearing. During the hearing, you can contest your HTO status and then give reasons why you need to retain your ability to drive.

You must understand there are different timing details you must know before filing a request for a hearing. You can either contest 30 days after you receive notice of your HTO status or two years after you were convicted of your last traffic crime or ticket. If you are deliberating on requesting an hearing to fight your HTO suspension, then we highly suggest you retain skillful legal counsel as soon as possible.

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Can You Get a Hardship License as a Habitual Traffic Offender in FL?

Most attorneys will highly encourage you to file a request for habitual traffic offender hearing after you’ve received notice of your HTO status in the mail. It’s important to note though legally you cannot obtain a hardship license during the first year of your suspension. Once that year is up you can then apply for a hardship license through the Administrative Review Office. 

It’s imperative you understand that you must complete a few courses in Advanced Driver Improvement School to get your driving privileges reinstated. If you don’t take the required classes, then you cannot be eligible for a hardship license even if you have waited one year. If alcohol was involved in your recent traffic offense that triggered HTO status, then you’ll be required to attend a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) class depending.

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Additional Resources

Habitual Traffic Offenders – Visit the official website for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to learn more about HTO. Access their site to learn how a person’s labeled as HTO, when you can apply for a hardship license, and links to court-ordered schools you must attend to have your license reinstated. 

Florida Laws on Habitual Traffic Offenders – Visit the official website for the Florida Statutes to learn more about habitual traffic offenders. Access the site to learn how one can become an HTO, what former laws are counted for HTO status and more.

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HTO Defense Lawyer in Palm Beach County, FL

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. are committed to representing individuals who are considered habitual traffic offenders throughout Palm Beach County, Florida. If your license has been suspended due to being a habitual traffic offender in Broward County, Palm Beach County, and speak with an experienced criminal defense team.

Our attorneys have represented West Palm Beach clients in all types of criminal traffic infractions across South Florida and are skilled advocates for the rights of alleged offenders. "Alleged" being the operative word because an individual is innocent until proven guilty and we take that adage seriously.

Call (561) 557-8686 now for more information about how our attorneys can help.

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