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Felony Suspended License Defense in Miami
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Driving while your is license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified (commonly abbreviated simply as DWLS), is a common misdemeanor offense in Florida, but some offenses may rise to felony charges. In such cases, convictions can result in much lengthier prison sentences and steeper fines.
A driver’s license suspension crime can become a felony offense if an alleged offender has 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), which means they have accumulated a significant number of traffic convictions in a limited period of time.
Let Our Miami & Fort Lauderdale Attorney Help You
If you were arrested in Miami, 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 to discuss the details of your case with our team.
Miami criminal defense lawyer Evan Hoffman represents clients accused of traffic offenses in numerous communities throughout Miami and Forth Lauderdale. If you need help, our legal team can meet with you and provide a free, confidential consultation.
Florida Statute § 322.34(5) establishes that if any person with a revoked driver’s license continues to drive, they may be found guilty of a third-degree felony. Florida Statute § 322.264 provides the state’s definition for HTO as 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 involving the use of a motor vehicle;
- Driving a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license;
- Failing to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a damaging or fatal motor vehicle crash; or
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s 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 certain moving traffic offenses as set forth in Florida Statute § 322.27.
Penalties for Felony Driving While Driver’s License Is Suspended
Florida Statute § 322.34(2)(c) establishes that knowingly driving while a license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified 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 a driver’s license is 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 also operated the motor vehicle in a careless or negligent way that 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.
Contact The Hoffman Firm for Help
Were you recently arrested in Miami for an alleged felony DWLS offense? Do not make any statement to authorities without legal counsel. Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible.
Evan Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who represents individuals charged with serious traffic offenses, including felony charges for driving with a suspended license. If you need legal help, our firm is here.
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