In May 2013, a Chevy charging through a 65-mph-zone at 80 mph crashed into another vehicle and put the occupants into the hospital with life-threatening injuries. In June, a driver making a legal turn on a green light was hit and killed by another driver who ran a red light. In both cases, the offending drivers were considered habitual traffic offenders under Florida law.
The habitual traffic offender (HTO) laws are designed to take people with unsafe driving habits off our roads and highways. How does a driver become a habitual traffic offender?
If you are convicted of three serious traffic offenses or get 15 moving violations carrying points against your driving record within five years, you are designated a habitual traffic offender. Serious traffic offenses include:
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter by motor vehicle
- Any driving under the influence (DUI) related conviction
- The use of a motor vehicle in any felony crime
- A fatal or serious injury resulting from a hit-and-run accident
- Having a revoked or suspended license and driving despite the revocation/suspension
A violation of federal laws or other state laws that parallel those of Florida is also counted against you by the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) under Florida’s Habitual Traffic Offender statute. Should you, for instance, get a DUI conviction in another state while on vacation, that conviction will be counted by Florida for the purpose of determining if you are a habitual traffic offender.
Once you are designated a habitual traffic offender, Florida law requires that your driver's license be revoked for a period of five years. In a state where you need to drive to take your children to school, to get to work, to take your family or yourself to medical appointments, losing your license for five years is a true hardship. A seasoned HTO defense attorney can help you apply to have your license reinstated after one year for business or work purposes by proving that your license revocation has caused financial hardship for your family.