Felony Driving While License Suspended
Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified (commonly abbreviated simply as DWLS) is a common misdemeanor offense in Florida, but certain alleged offenders can face felony charges. In such cases, convictions can result in much lengthier prison sentences and steeper fines.
One way that driving while a license is suspended can become a felony offense involves an alleged offender having prior DWLS convictions. Another common reason that people face felony driving while license suspended charges is because they have been designated as habitual traffic offenders (HTOs), meaning people who have accumulated a certain number of traffic convictions.Felony Driving While License Suspended Attorney in Miami-Dade County, FL
If you were arrested anywhere in South Florida for an alleged felony DWLS offense, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible.
Miami criminal defense lawyer Evan A. Hoffman represents clients accused of traffic offenses in numerous communities throughout Miami-Dade County, such as Coral Gables, Hialeah, Opa-locka, Miami, North Miami, South Miami, Key Biscayne, Aventura, and many others. You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (305) 249-0090 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
North Miami Felony Driving While License Suspended Information Center
- How can people be classified as HTOs?
- What are the consequences of felony DWLS convictions?
- Where can find more information about felony driving while license suspended in Miami-Dade County?
Habitual Traffic Offender Designation in Florida
Florida Statute § 322.34(5) establishes that any person whose driver license has been revoked pursuant to Florida Statute § 322.264 and who drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license is revoked is guilty of a third-degree felony. Florida Statute § 322.264 provides the state’s definition for HTO as being any person whose record, as maintained by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), shows that such person has accumulated the specified number of convictions for offenses described in Florida Statute § 322.264(1) or Florida Statute § 322.264(2) within a five-year period.
Under Florida Statute § 322.264(1), three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts can result in HTO status:
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
- Any driving under the influence (DUI) violation;
- Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
- Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
- 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; or
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
An alleged offender can also be classified as an HTO under Florida Statute § 322.264(2) if he or she accumulates 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed as set forth in Florida Statute § 322.27. Passing a stopped school bus, reckless driving, and speeding tickets are popular examples of traffic offenses for which points may be assessed.
Felony Driving While License Suspended Penalties in Miami-Dade County
Florida Statute § 322.34(2)(c) establishes that driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified while knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation is a third-degree felony if the alleged crime is the alleged offender’s third or subsequent conviction. If the alleged offender drove a commercial motor vehicle while his or her driver license or driving privilege was canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified, then a second DWLS conviction is also a third-degree felony under Florida Statute § 322.34(7)(b).
Under Florida Statute § 322.34(6)(b), driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified is also a third-degree felony if the alleged offender drove while his or her license was canceled, suspended, or revoked, and by careless or negligent operation of the motor vehicle caused the death of or serious bodily injury to another human being. All third-degree felony convictions are punishable as follows:
- Up to five years in prison; and/or
- Fine of up to $5,000.
Felony Driving While License Suspended Resources in Florida
Driver License Check | Florida DHSMV — Use this section of the DHSMV website to check the status of your Florida driver’s license. You only need to enter your driver license and a CAPTCHA answer to access your driving record. If the DHSMV has received information and cleared your record, the check will display "VALID."
Burgess v. State, 198 So. 3d 1151 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) — Donald Burgess pleaded guilty to violating Florida Statute § 322.34(5) but specifically reserved for appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss, which raised the issue of whether he could be convicted under the statute when he never actually had a driver's license. The Second District Court of Appeal reverse Burgess's judgment and sentence after concluding that he could not be convicted under the statute of driving while his license was revoked for having been a habitual traffic offender because he never held a driver's license. It is important to note that while the Third District Court of Appeal agreed with the Second District’s decision in Burgess, the Fourth and Fifth District Courts of Appeal have both held that alleged offenders can be convicted of violating Florida Statute § 322.34(5) even when they have not been issued driver’s licenses.
Were you recently arrested in Miami-Dade County for an alleged felony DWLS offense? Do not make any kind of statement to authorities without legal counsel. Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who represents individuals in South Miami, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Homestead, Hialeah, Doral, Aventura, North Miami, and many surrounding areas of South Florida. Call (305) 249-0090 or submit an online contact form today to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free consultation.