Florida Three Strikes Law and HTO Status

florida prisonYou also have to be careful if you get a DUI after you’ve already had some other charges on your driving record. In Florida, we have what’s called the ‘Three-Strikes Law,’ if you have a combination of any three offenses such as DUI, driving with a suspended license, fleeing and attempting to elude an officer. Any type of felony involving a motor vehicle, a DUI counts as one of those strikes. If you get three of these strikes within a five-year period, you are classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), and you’ll lose your driver’s license for five years.

And Why Is That Important to Know? 

Let’s say it’s your first DUI.  You might think, “I’m a first time offender,” but if you’ve had some of these other criminal traffic violations, now you’re not facing a minimum six months driver’s license suspension if you’re convicted.  You actually could face a five-year suspension. It’s not anything the court does to you; it’s what the DMV does to you.

Imagine you go to court just to make a plea, and you think, “I’m a first time offender, I’m good, I don’t care, I don’t mind this conviction and what’s the big deal? Then, about two months down the road, you get a letter from the DMV saying, “We got a notice that you pled to a DUI when convicted, and we’re suspending your driver’s license for five years.” There’s nothing that can be done at that point. It’s something that you want to talk to an attorney about before you take action, especially if you’re someone who’s had driving issues in the past. You really want to make sure you know the impact this is going to have on your driver’s license.

Not All Traffic Charges are Strikes Against Your Driver’s License

You could get a charge like reckless driving. Reckless driving is not one of those enumerated offenses that counts as a strike. So that’s the only way to get around that. You would have to plead to something or get the DUI dismissed or go to trial and be successful. What we always do is ask a client about their prior criminal history as well as driving history. As part of the case, the prosecutor always runs a driving record and provides it to us. 

Sometimes our clients don’t know or don’t realize that maybe their prior offenses can affect them, and once we review their driving record, we advise them, “Oh no, we have this issue.” Then we even talk to the prosecutor, who also sees it, and we try to convince them to give them that reduced charge, maybe of a reckless, this person needs it even more than before because they face this five-year driver’s license suspension.

Every time you go to court on a criminal traffic violation, the court runs your driving record –– a new one — for every court appearance. So they see what you have and a lot of times, they’ll make sure everyone, all the parties know, “Hey, this person is possibly facing what we call an HTO( Habitual Traffic Offender) classification. We need to be careful. We need to make sure they know what they’re doing.”

Defend Against an HTO Status with a Seasoned Traffic Lawyer

If you have received notice that your license has been revoked and you are a Habitual Traffic Offender, contact a traffic attorney as soon as possible. An experienced traffic lawyer will know how to not only pursue removal of HTO status but if that is not possible, he or she may be able to reduce your sentence. If this is your third felony in the state of Florida, the possibility of jail time, devastating fines, and permanent loss of your license are very real threats.

The Umansky Law Office works hard to minimize the damage to your driving and personal record that an HTO status causes. As members of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, we understand that everyone deserves a second chance, and our team of seasoned lawyers fight hard to get you that opportunity. Put our over 100 years of criminal defense experience and courtroom negotiation skills as former state prosecutors to work for your defense today. Contact us online or by phone at (407) 228-3838 to discuss your HTO status further and learn how we can get you back on the road legally.