We’re going to examine what constitutes a particularly serious version of driving on a suspended license (DWLS), and that’s driving as a habitual traffic offender (HTO). The punishment on these cases can be a bit harsh, meaning you can go to jail or prison. (sorry for all the acronyms)
There are two surprising things about driving on a suspended license as an HTO: first, how serious the punishment is, and second, how easy it is to prove this type of case.
Today, we’re going to meet a driver who received a 365-day jail sentence after being convicted of driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender. Robinson v. State, 2020 Fla.App.Lexis 621 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). FYI, in Orange County, Osceola County, and Seminole County, some judges are giving out prison time for this offense–but Robinson got his one year jail sentence in another county.
Henry Robinson was caught driving while his license was suspended as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). For those of you unfamiliar with what it means to be a habitual traffic offender, basically, it is a five-year license suspended that spawns from 3 convictions for various driver shinanigans (most frequently, just getting caught driving on a suspended license three times will create a 5 year DL suspension as a habitual traffic offender).
Its a pretty serious offense to be caught driving on an HTO suspension–its a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Technically, there are several different ways to end up with a felony for driving on a suspended license. Robinson found the most direct route to a felony via driving as a habitual traffic offender, but you can also be charged with a felony for driving on a suspended license with two prior convictions.
One of the problems with an HTO suspension is that this suspension is a surprise to almost every driver who gets one. Sure, the DMV is required to give a driver notice that the suspension is coming, but the DMV does not have a perfect track record when it comes to mailing things out. And that’s the complaint that Robinson had with his conviction–the State failed to prove that the DMV noticed him of his 5-year HTO suspension. As such, he asked that his conviction be overturned. Continue Reading