A Florida resident who receives a specified number of traffic convictions or moving violations in a five-year period can be classified as a habitual traffic offender (HTO). Motorists who receive HTO status have their driver’s licenses revoked for five years, and people who drive after being notified of HTO statuses can face felony criminal charges.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will typically notify a person of his or her HTO status through a mailed correspondence. If an individual takes quick legal action after receiving such notification, it may be possible to have the HTO status removed.
If you have been designated as an HTO in South Florida, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. aggressively defends clients accused of traffic offenses in Pompano Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Hollywood, and many surrounding areas of Broward County.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who can help protect or reinstate your Florida driver's license. Call (954) 716-8538 right now to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Florida Statute § 322.264 establishes that an HTO is defined as any person whose record, as maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows that such person has accumulated the specified number of convictions for offenses described in Florida Statute § 322.264(1) or Florida Statute § 322.264(2) within a 5-year period. Under Florida Statute § 322.264(1), a person can be designated as an HTO for three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:
A person can also be classified as an HTO under Florida Statute § 322.264(2) if he or she obtains 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed as set forth in Florida Statute § 322.27. Such offenses include, but are not limited to:
When a person receives an HTO notification from the DHSMV, the notice will usually explain that the alleged offender has the right to apply for an administrative hearing to review his or her driving record and challenge the justification of the revocation. People only have 30 days from the date of the order of suspension to file a request for an administrative record review hearing.
A revocation may be unjustified if the driving record contains entry errors, the DHSMV listed the wrong offenses, or the offenses listed do not fall within the five-year time period. People do have the right to appeal administrative hearing decisions if incorrect entries are not removed.
Another way for people to avoid HTO status is by filing motions to vacate or set aside one of the convictions. It is important to understand that alleged offenders only have a limited amount of time to file certain motions, as state law allows them 30 days to file motions to withdraw pleas, 60 days to file motions to reduce or correct sentences, and two years to claim ineffective assistance of counsel if they were not advised that their licenses would be suspended or revoked because of HTO status.
A person who receives HTO status can also apply for a hardship licenses through the Administrative Review Office that allows him or her to drive to and from work, but alleged offenders are not eligible for hardship licenses during the first year of their revocations or suspensions.
Florida DHSMV — Visit this website to access various information about Florida driver’s licenses. In addition to current driver license status, you can also learn how to purchase your driver record. You can find information about driver license fees and answers to frequently asked questions about driver records.
Kallelis v. State, 909 So.2d 544 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005) — Joseph Kallelis was convicted of driving while his license was revoked as an HTO based upon the introduction of a certified copy of his record from the DHSMV that designated him as an HTO and noted his license revocation. On August 31, 2005, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed and vacated the conviction as well as the sentence for the lesser included offense of driving with a suspended license after it determined that the state failed to present a prima facie case. The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court erred in failing to grant the judgment of acquittal because the DMV record did not show that Kallelis had the requisite convictions to qualify as an HTO.
Have you received a letter from the DHSMV notifying you about HTO status? You will want to immediately seek legal representation for help possibly protecting the status of your driver’s license. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell represent residents of and visitors to communities all over South Florida, including Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate, Wilton Manors, Weston, and several others. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (954) 716-8538 or submit an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation.
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