traffic cop writing ticket for young woman driverHave you ever been pulled over and had the police officer inform you that you’re under arrest for a criminal traffic offense? If so, you’re likely overwhelmed and scared about what’s ahead. Maybe it’s unclear why your actions resulted in a criminal charge—and you are unsure how to respond to the police officer’s questions.

Whether this is your first experience with law enforcement or one of many, understanding the different kinds of traffic offenses in Florida can give you the answers you need. If you have been accused of a felony or misdemeanor traffic offense, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the criminal court system and minimize the impact the incident will have on your life.

Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Traffic Offenses in Florida

There are two different types of traffic infractions: civil and criminal. Civil infractions such as speeding or parking in the wrong place, known as moving violations, are typically settled by paying a fine. A criminal traffic violation is a much more serious offense that could result in a driver incurring a misdemeanor or felony charge on their criminal record. If convicted, a driver faces much more significant penalties than a traffic citation, including jail time, probation, high fines, restitution, loss of driving license, and other long-lasting consequences. 

Florida Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses

  • First- and second-time DUI charges
  • Refusal to submit to blood alcohol testing
  • Reckless driving resulting in property damage
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run) resulting in property damage
  • No valid driver’s license or registration
  • Knowingly driving with a suspended license
  • Refusing to comply with a lawful order or direction from a police officer, crash investigation officer, or fire department official at the scene of an emergency
  • Speeding 30 mph or more over the posted limit
  • Drag racing

Florida Felony Traffic Offenses

  • DUI causing serious bodily injury or as a third offense in ten years
  • Reckless driving causing serious bodily injury
  • Speeding 50 mph or more over the posted limit
  • Leaving the scene of an accident causing death or serious bodily injury
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Evading a law enforcement officer
  • Leaving a child unsupervised in a vehicle resulting in serious bodily harm
  • A third offense of driving with a suspended license
  • A third conviction for driving as a habitual traffic offender

Florida License Suspension for Habitual Traffic Offenders

Florida law requires specific license suspension periods for drivers considered habitual traffic offenders (HTO). You could be designated an HTO if you commit multiple criminal traffic violations or accumulate a certain number of points on your license within five years.

Points may be incurred for a variety of offenses, including:

  • Three points for speeding or driving with an open alcoholic beverage container
  • Four points for running a red light or reckless driving
  • Six points for causing a crash by speeding or leaving the scene of an accident

If you have accumulated 12 points, your driver’s license could be suspended for 30 days. If you accrue 18 points in 18 months or less, you could incur a 90-day license suspension. If you accumulate 24 points within three years, you face one year of license suspension. If labeled an HTO, you could potentially lose your license for up to five years.

Speak to a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Before You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Crime

There are many defenses and strategies available to defeat criminal driving charges, and the right one for your case will depend on the circumstances of the incident. If there is no viable defense to refute the charges, there may be ways to reduce the charges by negotiating with the prosecutor.

For example, the consequences for unwittingly driving with a suspended license are far less severe than intentionally driving while suspended. We could have the charge amended to a No Valid Florida Driver’s License or even a civil citation. If you have a clean driving history, we may also be able to convince the judge that you made a mistake and are unlikely to repeat the offense.

Board-certified criminal trial attorney Robert David Malove handles both felony and misdemeanor traffic offenses—and we offer free consultations and affordable payment plans to make justice accessible to everyone. Contact us online or call us today at 954-861-0384 to have us explain your options at no cost.