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Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)

In the state of Florida, most driver’s livelihood is dependent on the ability to drive a vehicle.  Miami does not have extensive public transportation.  Miami residents must rely on their vehicles for transportation to work, school, the doctor, and various businesses. 

Therefore, it is imperative for most individuals to keep a valid driver’s license.  In certain cases, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) can suspend your license for a period of 5 years if you are found to be a “Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)”. 

These 5-year suspensions are common in the state of Florida.  According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2010, there were 18,208 people that received HTO suspensions. In 2011, there were 17,306 HTO suspensions. 

If you have you received one of these letters, you should contact an experienced traffic attorney immediately to see if the HTO status can be removed. 

Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Requirements

Under Florida Statute §322.264, a Habitual Traffic Offender is defined as any person who, within a 5 year period:

Has three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:

  1. Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
  2. Any charge under Florida Statute 316.193 for DUI;
  3. Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
  4. Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked, commonly referred to as “DWLS”;
  5. 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;
  6. Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified;
  7. Or fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points assessed as set forth in Florida Statute 322.27.

How Can I Avoid Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Status?

If you were arrested or cited for any of the offenses above including DUI, DWLS, or any other traffic offense in Miami, FL, it is important you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to have your case evaluated.

An experienced attorney will review your driving record.  He will evaluate whether you are currently a habitual traffic offender.  If not, he will evaluate whether a conviction for your charge would result in you becoming a habitual traffic offender.

If a conviction for your current charge would result in you becoming a habitual traffic offender, then more than likely this will be your third conviction in a five-year period for DWLS, DUI, or one of the other traffic offenses mentioned above.  If this is the case, an attorney might be able to prevent you from becoming a habitual traffic offender and losing your license for five years.

Examples of potential outcomes that would prevent an individual from becoming a habitual traffic offender may include the following:

  1. A reduction of DUI to reckless driving,
  2. A reduction of DWLS with Knowledge to NVDL,
  3. Receiving a withhold of adjudication to DWLS without knowledge, or
  4. Vacating a prior qualifying conviction so that you won’t have three qualifying convictions within a five year period (see below). 

However, there is no way to guarantee that any of these results will prevent you from becoming a habitual traffic offender without receiving the correct legal advice.

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How to Check if Your License is Suspended

To verify whether your license is suspended as a habitual traffic offender, or very any other reason, visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  Then, you will simply need to input your Florida driver’s license number.

How to Get a Copy of Your Driving History in Miami, FL

If you would like to obtain a copy of your driving history in the State of Florida, you have a number of options.  You can go to the Miami-Dade County Clerk of Court at the Richard E. Gerstein Building at 1351 NW 12th St, Miami, FL 33125, or request a copy through the FLHSMV.

How to Remove Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Status

If you have already received a notice of suspension of your license as a habitual traffic offender, you may still have options to remove the suspension. 

You will more than likely need to have an attorney review your driving record to evaluate which conviction has caused you to become a habitual traffic offender.  From that point, an attorney can do one of the following options. 

File a motion to vacate a conviction in Miami, FL

The most common scenario that results in someone becoming a habitual traffic offender is when they are convicted of three of the offenses listed in Florida Statute 322.264.

Sometimes you can file a motion to vacate one of those underlying convictions that are causing you to become a habitual traffic offender.  This can result in your HTO status being removed from your record as well as removing the five-year suspension.

Timing is very important, however.  Motions to withdraw a plea under Florida Criminal Rule of Procedure 3.170 must be filed within 30 days.  Motions to reduce or correct sentence must be filed within 60 days for civil infractions under the Florida Rules of Traffic Court.

Finally, under Florida Criminal Rule of procedure 3.850, any claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to advise the client of a license suspension must be filed within 2 years of the conviction. 

Motions to vacate plea all involve the same threshold issue:  Were you advised by your attorney or the court that pleading guilty to the underlying crime would cause habitual offender status and a five-year suspension of your license? 

If not, then you might have a valid argument that your plea was not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made.  This could result in the court allowing you to withdraw your plea and enter a plea to a charge that won’t affect your license status.

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Request an administrative hearing in Miami, FL

Another way to attack an HTO suspension is by requesting an administrative hearing with the Florida DHSMV. Timing is important, however, as you only have 30 days from the notice of suspension to file a request for the administrative hearing. 

At the hearing, you could be able to show:

  1. Errors on your driving record for mistaken convictions;
  2. An incorrect entry that resulted from a case of mistaken identity when a citation belongs to another person with identical or similar names;
  3. Mistaken convictions due to identity theft;
  4. The three underlying convictions did not occur within a 5 year period;
  5. Two of the offenses occurred in the same criminal episode and are therefore not separate offenses; or
  6. The offenses listed by DMV are not qualifying HTO offenses under Florida law.

If you can show one, or more, of these scenarios, then DMV could possibly invalidate the suspension. 

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File a petition for a writ of certiorari to challenge DMV’s revocation order in Miami, FL

Your last recourse to invalidate your HTO suspension might be to file a writ of certiorari
five yearin circuit court.  A “writ of certiorari” is a Latin phrase meaning “we wish to be more informed”.  If you file a writ of certiorari in circuit court, you are basically asking that court to review a lower court’s or administrative agency’s decision. 

If you can show that the lower court or administrative agency made an error of law, then you may be entitled to relief.

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Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Hardship License in Miami, FL

If you are unable to remfive-yearsuspension as a habitual traffic offender, you still may be able to obtain a hardship license.  You will not be eligible for a hardship license for one year.  However, at the end of that year, you can request a hardship hearing at the Florida Bureau of Administrative Review.

At that hearing, an employee with DMV will determine if you should be granted a hardship license.  If you are granted a hardship license, you will be able to drive to and from work, school, medical appointments, and more.  Prior to attending the hearing, you must complete an Advanced Driver Improvement Course. 

A list of providers can be found at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website. 

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Additional Resources

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles- request a copy of your driving record, get information on obtaining a Florida driver’s license, check your driver’s license status, get statistical information on driver’s license data in Florida, and get information on requesting a hardship license

Miami-Dade County Criminal and Traffic Clerk of Court- get information on your criminal/civil traffic record and request a driving record

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Find an Attorney for a Habitual Traffic Offender in Miami, FL

If you received notice from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
that you are a habitual traffic offender, you should contact Hubbs Law immediately.  HTO suspensions can seriously impact your day to day life due to the five year suspension of your license.

Call Hubbs Law today.  E.J. Hubbs is “Board Certified” by the Florida Bar in criminal trial law. Less than 1% of attorneys in Florida are board certified in criminal trial law.

Hubbs Law handles all types of habitual traffic cases in Miami-Dade County, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Kendall, Doral, Homestead, North Miami, and South Miami, as well as other cities and areas in the Greater Miami Area.

Contact Hubbs Law at (305) 665-9040 to immediately speak with an attorney that will discuss the facts of your case, review your driving record, and evaluate whether you could be entitled to remove the HTO suspension.  Call today for your free consultation.

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