Felony Driving While License Suspended
Driving while your license is suspended is usually charged as a misdemeanor in Florida. However, in some cases, the prosecution may pursue felony charges if you have prior convictions for driving while license suspended. Moreover, if you’re a habitual traffic offender, you could be charged with felony driving while license suspended even though it’s your first time being accused of this particular crime. If you are facing charges of this nature, it’s wise to consult an experienced Fort Lauderdale traffic ticket attorney about your situation because felony convictions carry harsh consequences. Being convicted of felony driving while your license is suspended can result in a prison sentence. The reason for this offense to be charged as a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor is usually due in part to the underlying reason for your license suspension.Felony Driving While License Suspended
The reasons for a driver’s license suspension or the number of prior convictions you have can affect whether you’re simply charged with a traffic violation, or if you face third degree felony charges for driving while your license is suspended. When a first offender doesn’t have knowledge of the suspension, the crime can be classified as a noncriminal traffic infraction, which can only be punished with forfeiture, a fine, or another civil penalty. A first conviction of driving while your license is suspended is treated as a second degree misdemeanor. A second conviction is treated as a first degree misdemeanor.
However, felony convictions are punished more harshly. Florida Statutes section 322.34 makes it a crime for you to knowingly drive while your license is suspended or revoked. If you’re convicted of a third, fourth, or higher conviction, except where it’s a third degree felony conviction, you will need to serve at least 10 days in jail. You can be charged with a felony of the third degree if you drive with your license suspended or revoked as a result of a DUI, if you refuse to submit to chemical tests, if the traffic offense caused serious bodily injury or death, or due to fleeing or eluding.
If you’re convicted of a third degree felony, you may be sentenced to 5 years in prison and up to $5000 in fines. Under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, this is a level 1 offense. Moreover, the arresting officer can impound your vehicle if there was a prior conviction of driving while license suspended for no insurance or because you were a habitual traffic offender. If you’re driving on a DUI suspension when you’re arrested for DUI and driving while your license is suspended, your vehicle can also be impounded by the arresting officer.Element of Knowledge of Suspension
The element of “knowingly” in a charge of driving while your license is suspended can be satisfied if you were previously cited, you admit knowledge, or you got notice of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation. There’s a rebuttable presumption of knowledge if there’s a judgment or order appearing in the department records for any case except one involving a suspension by the department for failure to pay a traffic fine. A skilled traffic crime lawyer can help you contest this presumption of knowledge if appropriate in your case.Habitual Traffic Offender
You can be classified as a habitual traffic offender under Florida Statutes section 322.264 if you amass a particular number of convictions for crimes set forth under section 322.264(1) or section 322.264(2) within 5 years. You’ll be designated a habitual traffic offender if your record shows three or more convictions of certain traffic offenses including DUI, driving while your license is suspended or revoked, felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle was utilized, hit and run where there was a personal injury or death, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle, and driving a commercial motor vehicle while your driving privilege is disqualified. You can also be classed as a habitual traffic offender if you accrue 15 convictions for certain moving traffic offenses for which you can receive points under section 322.27.Consult a Dedicated Traffic Crime Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
If you were arrested for felony driving while your license was suspended in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County, you can seek legal representation. We represent people in Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines, Davie, Lauderhill, Cooper City, and many other communities. Call The Hoffman Firm at (954) 524-4474 or contact us online.