Driving is a privilege. And privileges can be taken away from you. Your driver's license can be suspended for a number of reasons. You can be suspended for failing to pay a traffic ticket, or by failing to appear in court for a traffic ticket. Your license can also be suspended for failing to pay child support, or failing to carry proper auto insurance.
If your license is going to be suspended, the DHSMV will alert you by mail, giving you an effective date of license suspension. That will give you a few weeks to clear up what you need to clear up. Usually, this means paying money (if you have failed to pay a traffic ticket).
Once you take care of the outstanding ticket, you may have to get a D6 clearance from the Clerk of Courts, which will show the DHSMV that you have resolved any outstanding issues with your driver's license, and are eligible to reinstate. The DHSMV will charge reinstatement fees.
This is the easy way to avoid problems. But many people fall into the trap where their license continues to become more and more muddled. More unpaid tickets, more suspensions. All of a sudden, you are in a situation where you feel that your license will never be restored.
If you drive on a suspended license, you are committing a crime. Driving while license suspended (DWLS) can result in your arrest. Convictions (even withholds of adjudication) may result in your becoming a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO).
If you become an HTO, you will have your license revoked for a period of five years. If you do not drive on the license for one year and complete an Advanced Driver Improvement (ADI) course, you may be eligible for a hardship license. A hardship license is a special driving permit that will allow you to drive to and from work or school.
Many people call me and ask me to help them with their driver's license problems. Given my primary background as a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney, I am used to dealing with the DHSMV. I deal with them routinely in my DUI cases.
What I can do is review your driving history to see what is holding up your license. This process may require you to pay some of your unpaid tickets if you have already pleaded guilty to them. If you simply failed to show up for court and a license suspension was issued, I will have the suspension set aside and set the ticket for trial. If the officer does not appear or is unprepared to go forward, the ticket will be dismissed.
If you have pleaded guilty to a DWLS charge without knowing that the charge would result in your becoming an HTO, I may be able to vacate the plea that made you an HTO.
This is why I never advise anybody to pay a traffic ticket online. When you pay the ticket online, you are automatically adjudicated (convicted). If you are being charged with the non-criminal infraction DWLS/Unknowingly (without knowledge of the suspension), paying the ticket online will cause you to be adjudicated. An adjudication of a non-criminal DWLS will count toward your HTO status.
Fixing driver's licenses is difficult, but a qualified attorney can make all the difference. Think about how important the ability to drive is to you. Think about not having to worry about going to jail every time you get in your car.
If you have problems with your Florida driver's license, call me to discuss your options. I may be able to help you to reinstate your driving privilege. My practice area includes Miami-Dade and Broward.
If you suspect that you may have problems with your license, don't let it spiral out of control. As is the case with anything, early intervention is the key to preventing a minor problem from becoming something bigger.
I advise all of you to routinely check the status of your driver's license.
Visit https://www6.hsmv.state.fl.us/DLCheck/main.jsp to check the status of your driver's license. If you have anything holding up your driver's license, this website will tell you. This site is run by the DHSMV and is up-to-the-minute accurate.