Florida places the Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) designation on drivers who accumulate a certain number of criminal and non-criminal traffic convictions within a five-year period.
The most common way to become an HTO is to accumulate three Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) convictions within a five-year period. For criminal DWLS charges (with knowledge of the suspension), it does not matter whether you receive a withhold or an adjudication. For non-criminal DWLS charges (without knowledge of the suspension), you must be convicted (adjudicated).
You can also become an HTO for a combination of DUI, reckless driving, and DWLS convictions as well.
I find that many people become HTO's simply by paying non-criminal traffic tickets online or at the counter of the clerk's office.
If you are charged with DWLS without knowledge and you pay the ticket online or at the counter, you will be automatically convicted. This conviction will count toward your HTO status. So if you have two prior DWLS without knowledge convictions or even two DWLS with knowledge withholds, and all are within a five-year time period, you will be habitualized.
An HTO revocation means that you cannot drive a car in Florida for a period of 5 years. If you do and you do not have a valid hardship or work-purposes license, you can be charged with a third-degree felony.
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will send you advance notice of your pending HTO revocation. The minute you receive this letter you should be reaching out to an attorney.
What we can do is possibly vacate, or undo, an old traffic ticket conviction that may be causing your habitualization.
For instance, if you paid a DWLS unknowingly citation online and received an HTO notice three weeks later, then that DWLS unknowingly conviction (because you were convicted the moment you opted to pay online) is what has caused your HTO revocation.
What I may be able to do for you is file a motion with the court asking to undo the online plea, which if granted would result in the case being reopened and set for trial.
If the case is ultimately dismissed or even if a withhold is imposed, the DHSMV will receive the updated disposition and your HTO status can be removed.
Don't risk driving around as a Habitual Traffic Offender. You will spend hours in jail, have to post a bond, and may face felony charges.
Call me if you have received an HTO notice in Broward County or Miami-Dade County.