Driving with Suspended Licenses
Currently, numerous people are driving around with suspended licenses. In Florida, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson has had his license suspended since 11/8/2013 (for citation A15OAQE); it is currently suspended for issues with this citation, and 5 other traffic infraction tickets). Maybe that’s why he’s substituted flashier cars for his Smart car (although this attorney would say it’s not smart to be driving with a suspended license and posting Instagram videos while driving, such as his 11/18/2014 post).
There are numerous reasons why a person would be driving with a suspended license in the State of Florida. The license could be suspended for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to being delinquent in paying child support, for a failure to pay fines/court costs/judgments, a DUI or drug conviction, failure to appear in court, failure to maintain insurance, or even for obtaining too many points on ones license. Sometimes it is as simple as someone failing to remember to pay a traffic fine for a red light camera ticket.
Under Florida Statutes 322.34, driving with a suspended license with knowledge is a second degree misdemeanor for a first time offender; the maximum penalties are up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.00. It is very important if you are charged with driving with a suspended license for the first time to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney, as accepting a plea deal with the State Attorney’s Office tends to lead to a snowball effect that can have lasting effects on your driving record; it makes it close to impossible to ever obtaining a valid license. Upon taking a plea, one is responsible for large court costs and the possible fine. If those are not paid, one’s driving privileges will be suspended now for the original suspending offense, as well for this new offense if fines and costs are not paid.
A second offense is now a first degree misdemeanor, and carries a maximum penalty of a $1000 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
A third or subsequent conviction for driving with a suspended license is a third degree felony with the maximum penalty being up to five years in Florida State Prison and/or a $5000 fine.
If one obtained three driving with suspended license convictions within a five year period, they are classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) according to the Department of Highway and Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). This results in a five year license suspension – a person cannot even obtain a hardship license until the second year of the five year suspension. Driving as a Habitual Traffic Offender is also a third degree felony, with the same penalties noted.