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There are literally a hundred or so ways a persons driving privilege can be suspended. A person can indefinitely lose their privilege to drive by simply allowing his/her auto insurance to lapse or forget to pay a traffic citation. On the other hand, and license can be revoked or suspended for a specific period of time for being convicted of a crime such as DUI or Drug Possession. Driving while your driving privilege is suspended, cancelled, or revoked is a crime in the state of Florida.

A single Driving While License Suspended/Revoked (DWLS) may not necessarily something to be worried about, but the circumstances surrounding the suspension might create aggravated circumstances that would expose an individual to imprisonment. Further is the issue regarding Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status. If an individual is convicted of three “major traffic offenses” within five years, they are declared a HTO, and their driving privilege is suspended for five years. These “major traffic offenses include DUI, DWLS, and Leaving the Scene of a Traffic Crash.

There are three types of DWLS charges in Florida:

A. DWLS Without Knowledge – Civil Infraction – These charges seem to be simply as innocuous as any moving violation. They are not criminal in nature and you have all of the options that you would normally have with resolving a traffic ticket (fight it, go to school, or pay it). You should understand that DWLS infractions carry four (4) points toward your driving record, and can result in an increase in insurance premiums. However, what you don’t know is that a conviction for a DWLS infraction will count as a “major traffic offense” toward a HTO suspension. Therefore, it is important for you to obtain advice of legal counsel before attempting to resolve a case of this type.

B. DWLS With Knowledge – Misdemeanor – These charges are criminal in nature, and depending on the circumstances, can result in a jail sentence. A great deal of DWLS cases are resolved in court without a jail sentence, but courts do have the authority to sentence a person to jail upon conviction. Multiple prior DWLS convictions, a DUI suspension/revocation, or driving on a court ordered revocation often expose an individual to a greater potential of a jail sentence.

C. Felony DWLS Charges – Although they are not common, driving while your license suspended under certain circumstances can be charged as a Felony.

1. Serious Bodily Injury or Death – If an individual is involved in a traffic crash resulting a serious bodily injury or death, and their license is suspended at the time of the traffic crash, they can be charged with a third degree Felony DWLS. These cases carry a potential maximum sentence of five years in state prison.

2. DWLS – Habitual Traffic Offender – If an individual is caught driving while their license is suspended for five (5) years as a Habitual Traffic Offender (H.T.O.), they can be charged with a third degree Felony DWLS if they have had previously been charged and convicted (even if Adjudication is Withheld) of a previous felony. Just as in the previous type of Felony DWLS, the individual faces a potential of up to five (5) years in prison.

Regardless of what circumstances are involved, it is usually advisable for you to make whatever effort you can to reinstate your driving privilege. This will not only assist you in getting a favorable disposition to your case, but will also insure that you do not expose yourself to any new potential charges in the future. Often individuals get lost while moving through the system on their way to reinstating their driving privilege. When it comes to these cases, our office makes it a point to guide our clients along a path that would result in the restoration of their driving privileges. The difficulty in traversing this route will depend on what type, and how many, suspensions there are. For many of our clients, this path is easy, but there are quite a few others clients who will have a more challenging and longer course to navigate.

Rick Silverman - Traffic Attorney