There are Two Types of Driving While License Suspended
If you accumulate 3 "DWLS" convictions within 5 years you will be classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender in Florida and lose your license for 5 years.
1. Without Knowledge: this is simple non-criminal traffic ticket. You can take care of this matter by simply going to the clerk's office and paying the fine amount. However, please keep in mind that by simply paying the fine you are admitting guilt and this results in a conviction.
The rule in Florida requires a 5 year Driver's License suspension for anyone accumulating 3 of these “without knowledge” type "DWLS" convictions. Therefore, in order to avoid having this type of infraction being used against your record for "HTO" purposes, the court must withhold adjudication. If you are caught driving after being classified "HTO" you may be prosecuted for a 3rd degree Felony.
Consider the following:
You get 3 civil infraction (without knowledge) "DWLS" tickets within a 5 year period. You simply go to the clerk's office to pay them. Later, you get a notice from the DMV advising that you are now a “Habitual Traffic Offender” and will lose your license for 5 years. You are subsequently stopped by law enforcement while driving. Now you are in danger of being prosecuted for a 3rd degree Felony, it's that serious
Before deciding what course of action to take when being issued a "DWLS" civil infraction, it is best to first consult with an attorney experienced in this area of law to potentially avoid a more serious situation and to advise you regarding your personal case based on specific facts and driving history.
2. With Knowledge: this type of DWLS is more serious since it is classified as a criminal traffic infraction. Unlike the first type of “DWLS” briefly discussed above, a withhold of adjudication still is considered a conviction and therefore the DMV will use three criminal “DWLS” charges within a 5 year period to classify you as a Habitual Traffic Offender.
- Legal Issues:
- you may have beenillegally stopped and may be able to challenge your criminal case. Police officers cannot stop you without a legal basis. The area of law governing illegal searches and seizures is complex and you should consult with an attorney experienced with these issues regarding the facts of your
- As stated earlier, a third or subsequent DWLS criminal case may potentially be charged as a 3rd degree Felony by the State Attorney’s office. However, in some instances there may be a legal basis to challenge the State Attorney’s decision of filing the case as a felony. It is important for someone who has been criminally charged with a DWLS to contact an experienced attorney immediately in order to explore any legal issue that may be possibly raised to prevent a charge from being filed as a felony
- You may have been "convicted" of a DWLS while the statute governing this criminal violation was held unconstitutional and may be able to challenge a prior conviction.
- The State Attorney's office cannot prosecute you for a Felony if one of the two prior charges they need to enhance a pending DWLS to a felony occurred before October 1, 1997.
- The State Attorney’s Office may be unable to prove that you knew that your driver’s license was suspended.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED AS A HABITUAL TRAFFIC OFFENDER OR HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSION MATTER IN TAMPA/ HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, PINELLAS COUNTY, PASCO COUNTY, OR POLK COUNTY, PLEASE CALL MY OFFICE SO I CAN ADVISE YOU ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR CASE.