A driver's license suspension is among the most inconveniencing penalties you can receive, mainly because of the withdrawal of driving privileges for a set time. Moreover, obtaining a license suspension may affect your criminal record, leading to more severe penalties in the future if you become a repeat offender. You will also receive additional penalties alongside the driver's license suspension, including payment of fines and jail sentences. The punishments will vary in severity based on your case's circumstances, and depending on whether you are a first offender. Subsequently, you should seek the services of a criminal defense lawyer who is conversant with legal defenses. With the right attorney handling your case, you can have your driver's license reinstated to avoid the challenges associated with the loss of driving privileges.
Moreover, an experienced lawyer will also provide additional support in organizing your documents to ensure that you have sufficient proof during the court proceedings. At Arnold Law, we have worked with clients in Florida to provide the best criminal defense. With our help, you can avert license suspension and retain your driving privileges, thanks to our dedicated team of lawyers who put your needs first. Moreover, we provide comprehensive information sessions to help you understand the course of action we intend to take when dealing with your criminal case.
Offenses That Lead to License Suspension
The Florida Statute provides for many different laws that prohibit unlawful activities from regulating activities in the state. Moreover, the statute lists penalties for the various crimes, based on the violations an offender engages in. For this reason, multiple crimes will attract license suspensions, with the primary category of offenses being traffic violations.
However, you may also face a license suspension for violations that are unrelated to traffic misconduct. In such categories, the main aim of suspending the license will be to limit your ability to move around, especially if you are potentially a risk to people around you. The primary offenses that attract license suspensions include:
Points Accumulated in Moving Traffic Violations
In Florida, traffic laws incorporate a point system that accumulates each time you violate regulations. In this case, a moving violation is any offense you commit when driving. Therefore, the vehicle must be in motion at the time of arrest or stopped by the traffic officer in charge. The point system allocates different points for various violations, with the more severe offenses leading to more points. The specific traffic offenses that will get you a high point count are:
Most highways and residential roads have a speed limit indicated in different road sections, to prevent motorists from engaging in dangerous speeds. Therefore, you must observe the set speed limits or risk receiving a traffic violation ticket or arrest in adverse situations. Speeding may also bring about legal consequences even if there was no explicit warning set in road signs, primarily if you are driving near a school zone or in a residential area. Therefore, once an officer records your violation, you will have three points added to your driving records.
Moreover, as a motorist, you should uphold high attentiveness standards and road courtesy to avoid creating risk hazards on the road. Such rules advocate for every driver to drive carefully by having other road users in mind. Examples of careless behavior that motorists often engage in include getting distracted when behind the wheel. Distractions can be from your cell phone, other passengers, or other vehicle devices like the car radio. You may also get easily distracted from handling different tasks when driving like eating or wearing appliances like earphones, creating high chances of accidents.
Moreover, you will have acted carelessly if you engage in risky road behaviors like racing with other highway drivers. It leads to disregard for other motorists' safety and your own. Having a child below 60 pounds on the front seat is also a careless practice that may attract traffic violation points in your record. Overall, you will receive three points for each instance of reckless driving.
Running Red Lights
Failing to observe red traffic lights is a serious offense, especially when you are at an intersection where your behavior may lead to multiple accidents. Regardless of where you disobey the red light on a highway, the traffic officers in charge of issuing tickets and arrests will include three points for your misdemeanor, leading to an accumulation of points in your record.
Owing to the dangers of ignoring a red light, you are also likely to face additional penalties, primarily if your decision caused an accident that led to casualties. In most cases, you will be responsible for negligence. Therefore, you will have to pay for the victim's losses, on top of additional license suspension penalties, if you are eligible for it.
Like careless driving, engaging in reckless behavior when on the road endangers many motorists and pedestrians because of the complete disregard for human safety. However, unlike careless driving, a reckless motorist will exhibit more aggressive driving tactics that force other drivers to yield even when they have the right. For example, you will be guilty of reckless driving when you overlap cars in the wrong direction or lane.
Also, failing to slow down as another vehicle tries to overtake you is a reckless practice that may cause a side sweep accident. All these practices bring about the addition of four points to your record, leading to an increment that may end in a license suspension.
Disregard to Traffic Control Signals
Apart from red lights at traffic signs, highways and street roads have traffic signs erected on the sides to guide drivers on the expected conduct at specific points. Thus, you should observe these signs and engage the recommended speed, or turn. There are also signs available to prohibit certain driving practices, including U-turns or parking. Hence, if you do not follow the prohibitive instructions, the traffic officers in charge will add four points to your license record.
Once your points accumulate to a specific number, you will automatically qualify for a license suspension. The Florida statute has guided the Department of Motor Vehicles in creating a criteria table for each number of points you accumulate, and the period your suspension will last.
Firstly, an immediate license suspension is available to any driver who has accumulated 12 points or more on a driving record within one year. The points may come from different violations that will add up to the final figure. In such a case, you will have a license suspension for thirty days. It is illegal for you to drive a vehicle within the period, and you will therefore have to look for alternative means of transportation.
Secondly, if you have 18 points accumulated within one and a half years, you will have your driver's license suspended for three months. The period increases when you get 24 points in three years, as your license suspension will extend to one year.
The restrictions are more stringent for drivers under eighteen years, as they are still minors who ought to uphold more care when on the road. Thus, if you are a minor who accumulates 6 points or more within twelve months, the consequences include having your license suspended or otherwise restricted for one year.
Despite the laid out regulations, your criminal defense lawyer can step in and reduce the risk of you facing a suspension. During the trial, your attorney can present sound defenses and counter-argument to prove your innocence in the alleged crimes. For example, suppose you engaged in excessive speed because of a medical emergency. In that case, the judge may change his/her mind on the otherwise evident conviction awaiting you and dismiss it. Upon receiving a case dismissal, the judge further issues an order to withdraw adjudication, meaning that no points are awarded for your offense.
A full trial may ensue in other circumstances, whereby your lawyer must prove your innocence against the prosecutor to prevent you from facing jail time conviction, fines, or license suspension. Subsequently, the attorney should provide sufficient evidence through witness statements and video footage to show your non-indulgence in violations. Once the judge finds you are not guilty, you will also avert receiving additional points in your record.
Defaulting from Making Child Support Payments
Under section 322.245 of the Florida Statutes, you may have your driver's license suspended for failing to make child support payments on time, also known as delinquency in child support. The rationale behind losing your driving privileges is to prevent you from having access to your children, as you could drive off with them without the other parent's consent. Some defendants may also decide to kidnap their children in severe cases by driving them into undisclosed locations.
Also, having a suspended license aims to motivate you to keep up with your child support payments, mainly because of the inconveniences you will otherwise face without driving to different locations as you please. You must note a delay in making the child support payments for fifteen days after you were supposed to commence the license suspension process automatically. Thus, we encourage you to follow up with the amount of the fees as soon as you can to prevent the license suspension's finalization.
Nevertheless, if you cannot honor the child support payments on time, your criminal defense lawyer can help you file a notice to contest the issuance of a suspension. You may also challenge the need for making the actual child support payments, especially if you think it is an unfair imposition if the other spouse has sufficient funds to raise the children. A time limit exists to limit your chances of filing for the motion, especially if you extend the twenty-day set period. Consequently, a failure to present your application for the motion to contest the suspension within the twenty days leads to an automatic license suspension.
However, you should also note that filing these contests on the status quo could take a long time to conclude the matters while still having your license suspended. Therefore, you and your criminal defense lawyer will weigh each section's benefits before deciding whether the motion to contest is the best choice for you.
Alternatively, your lawyer can pay a fee called the purge amount to prevent your license suspension entirely. In doing so, the cost will cover the need for you to file a motion to contest, meaning that you will be absolved of your delinquency upon the payment of the purge amount.
Driving With a Suspended License
It is illegal for you to drive with a suspended license, as you will have violated court or DMV orders. Usually, you will have faced a previous license suspension that leads to the loss of your driving privileges, which you defy by continuing to operate a vehicle. Once a traffic officer pulls you over and confirms that your license is in a suspended status, you could be eligible for arrest and detention to face the judge later. However, your case may be different if you were unaware that your license was suspended, as you will not have acted intentionally.
Consequently, an arrest after driving with a suspended license attracts additional penalties that include enforcement of the suspension. On top of that, you will also face jail sentences based on the type of violation you face charges for. If you are a first time offender, the judge will order you to serve sixty days in county jail. Additionally, a second-time offense will attract a one-year jail sentence, while a third-time crime leads to five years in prison and five-year license revocation.
Receiving the Habitual Traffic Offender Status
Upon obtaining three convictions on driving with a suspended license within five years, you will become a recorded habitual traffic offender. Subsequently, your driver's license faces license revocation for five years, enhancing the license suspension. Moreover, as a habitual traffic offender, you will likely face more scrutiny from traffic officers who stop you. For example, you could receive a minor misdemeanor ticket that other motorists may evade because of your status. As a result, it is vital to reach out to your criminal defense attorney, especially if you are one conviction away from obtaining the habitual traffic offender status.
With defenses appropriate for your case, you can save your license record and avoid the consequences that come about after having three traffic convictions within five years.
Driving Under the Influence
Drunk driving is unlawful in all states, including Florida, because of the risks associated with such conduct. Statutory provisions state the specific blood alcohol level that will attract punishment for your DUI engagement, including jail sentences and payment of fine penalties. The standard measure for your blood alcohol content is 0.08%, meaning that any level above this in your breathalyzer test amounts to a DUI offense. Since the traffic officers responsible for operating DUI checkpoints and administering the DUI tests work under strict regulations and arrest criteria, they can arrest you upon satisfying the violation threshold.
Once you are in police custody, a license suspension will take effect ten days after your arrest. Consequently, you have to use the ten days to apply for formal hearings from the Department of Motor Vehicles or court. Once you appear for your hearings, you will have a chance to take a plea, whereby you will accept the wrongful actions by pleading 'guilty' or deny them by pleading 'not guilty.' During these hearings, you can also present your defenses for driving when drunk and provide information supporting your claims.
While facing the DMV officer or judge handling your heating may not be easy, requesting the hearing is advantageous to you, as you can receive a hardship license. The allowance gives you driving privileges for forty-two days, whereby you can operate a vehicle and go to restricted areas at limited times. Nevertheless, it is a better option than the complete loss of driving privileges, as you can still exercise some autonomy.
Your criminal defense lawyer will offer significant support during your license suspension hearing. If he/she makes adequate preparations, you may have an opportunity to have your license reinstated. The award of license reinstatement depends on your DUI offense's severity and whether your defenses are persuasive enough to absolve you. However, it is essential to remember that having subsequent violations reduces your chances of winning, as DUI charges are often priorable offenses. A priorable crime is one that attracts more severe punishments for a repeat offense.
Thus, if presenting defenses will not help your case, your defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor or DMV officer in charge of your case. The negotiation can include having your license reinstated while you adhere to probation guidelines like attending DUI school consistently.
Resisting a Breathalyser Test
Once a traffic officer stops you for suspected DUI violations, he/she will direct you to take a breathalyzer test to determine whether you have surpassed the 0.08% threshold that amounts to a DUI violation. While most drivers adhere to the officer's orders, you may choose to decline from taking the test, legally permissible. In refusing from taking the test, you will save yourself from a possible arrest and conviction, especially if you suspect that you may have exceeded the DUI limit significantly.
Upon deciding the breath test, you become eligible for a license suspension, a measure issued to promote compliance with taking a breathalyzer test. As a result, your refusal attracts a license suspension for up to one year. The suspension becomes effective ten days after arrest and refusal to take the breathalyzer test. Moreover, you will face an extended suspension period for resisting a breath test for a second time. Here, your license suspension lasts for one and a half years.
Possible defenses for your lawyer to raise include pointing out your unfair arrest if the police lacked probable cause for stopping you. Establishing probable cause would require the officers to have observed extreme behavior or driving demeanor that would endanger you and others on the highway if not adequately addressed.
Your physical attributes can also provide sufficient cause for arrest, mostly if your eyes were bloodshot, and you could not maintain balance when standing outside your vehicle. Thus, if none of these attributes were evident during your DUI tests, and your BAC levels were well within range, there would be no reason for the traffic officers to apprehend you.
Remedies for a License Suspension
Apart from the defenses that your criminal defense lawyer presents during court trials, you can resolve the suspension by undertaking several activities. They include:
Agreeing to Pay Delinquency
Your lawyer can help you sign agreements to pay the outstanding amounts in cases where your license suspension came about from unpaid child support fees. Since the arrangements are formal, you will have to honor them or risk facing additional penalties for a subsequent default in making the necessary payments.
Complete Probation Requirements
When a license suspension comes from a traffic conviction that resulted in probation, you may have to complete the probation period to secure reinstatement. Thus, you must make court appearances when required, pay fines, and ensure that you follow through with all counseling meetings. If your probation officer presents a positive probation report in court, all penalties, including license suspension, are lifted.
Re-apply for a License
After an arrest for driving with a revoked license, you will have to make applications for a valid license after satisfying other court requirements. While the waiting period may be slightly longer, it may be the only available remedy for your case.
Wait for the Suspension Period to Lapse
Lastly, severe case circumstances may leave little room for negotiations and penalty reductions, meaning that you will have to wait for the stipulated license suspension time to lapse. Such a situation will be quite inconveniencing for you, especially if you do not have viable transportation alternatives. Thus, your lawyer will work to help you receive a hardship license to alleviate the situation.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
There is no doubt a license suspension may cost you significantly because of the limited independence and liberty to drive yourself to school, work, or other locations. Therefore, it is crucial to seek help from a criminal defense attorney who is well-experienced in the field. At Arnold Law, you have access to some of the best defense attorneys in Florida. With our help, you can fight criminal charges and retain your driver's license, to avoid driving inconveniences. Get in touch with us today at 904-264-3627.