Driving While a Habitual Traffic Offender - Florida Statute 322.34(5

traffic offenses

Florida Statute 322.264 defines a habitual traffic offender (“HTO”) as a person who commits within a 5 year period:

  • Three or more convictions of any one or more of the follow crimes from different acts:
    • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
    • Any violation of driving under the influence;
    • Any felony which a motor vehicle is used for the commission of;
    • 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;
    • Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified; or
  • Fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed.

This designation is placed on the defendant’s driving record by the Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles.

Why It Is Important to Have a Competent Defense Attorney

In Bolware v. State, 995 So.2d 268 (Fla. 2008), Bolware pleaded no contest to driving while his license was suspended, revoked or canceled and was then designated a habitual traffic offender. This designation caused his driver’s license to be revoked for 5 years. Mr. Bolware said his defense attorney and the court did not tell him about the 5 year revocation; otherwise, he would have never pleaded no contest to the charge. Id. at 271. The case was appealed all the way to the Florida Supreme Court which held “that neither defense counsel nor the trial court was required to advise Bolware that his license could be revoked.” Id. at 276.

What the State Prosecutor Has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime

The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant drove a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state; and

(2) At the time, the defendant’s license was revoked as a habitual traffic offender.

Defenses

One of the defenses is attacking the previous convictions. The prosecutor can use the defendant’s driver’s license record as prima facie evidence to get to trial but will have to prove the underlying convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where a state prosecutor can get into trouble because he might have not requested certified copies of the defendant’s previous convictions.

Punishment

This crime is a third-degree felony which is punishable up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine. In addition to prison and a fine, the defendant will have his driver’s license revoked for 5 years. See Florida Statute 322.27(5)(a).

Contact The Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

It is important to pick the right attorney who has criminal experience in this area. Our attorneys know the criminal rules and will require that prosecutors to abide by those rules also. Call our law offices today to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case. Our attorneys have handled these types of cases before and we will use that prior experience to help resolve your case as best as possible.

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