Florida Court Reverses Habitual Traffic Offender Conviction

Jacksonville Ticket Attorney

Suspended drivers license? Call (904) 564-2525 to speak to an attorney.

Have you been arrested for driving while your license has been suspended as a habitual traffic offender in Jacksonville? Unknowingly driving on a suspended or revoked license is civil traffic ticket in Jacksonville. Although this citation is a civil infraction, you should not take it lightly. A conviction will not only put points on your driving record. It may also make you a Florida habitual traffic offender. If you are given a ticket for knowingly driving on a suspended or revoked license in Jacksonville, this is a criminal traffic ticket. It is a misdemeanor crime. This could lead to a criminal conviction. Like the civil traffic infraction, it will also be used against you under the Florida habitual traffic offender law. The law that makes driving on a suspended license a crime is Florida Statute Section 322.34. This law states:

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, except a “habitual traffic offender” as defined in s. 322.264, who drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(2) Any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law, except persons defined in s. 322.264, who, knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked, upon:
(a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) A second conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

As you can tell from the Florida criminal law above, a driving on a suspended or revoked license ticket can cost you more than money. If you become a habitual traffic offender, you may be charged with a felony. Before things get to that point, you should consider speaking to a Jacksonville drivers license lawyer about obtaining a valid license. Even if your license has been suspended for 5 years as a habitual traffic offender, a Jacksonville drivers license attorney may still be able to help you reinstate your license. Even if you are ineligible for a hardship license, your attorney may be able to clear a conviction from your driving record. Call 20 Miles Law at (904) 564-2525 to speak with a lawyer in Jacksonville about reinstating your license in Duval, Nassau, Clay, or St. Johns County FL.

If you have been arrested for driving on a suspended license, you should speak to an attorney about your defenses. If you have been charged with a crime, including driving while your license is suspended, the state attorney has the burden of proving that you committed the crime. The state attorney must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, the state attorney must prove that you were actually driving the motor vehicle. In June of 2015, the Florida First District Court of Appeals reversed a case in which a defendant was found guilty of driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender. The court reversed the case, because the state used inadmissible evidence to prove that the defendant was driving on a suspended license. In Jackson v. State:

“Stipulating to his status as a habitual traffic offender, appellant claimed mistaken identity, arguing that his son, who (the trial court seemed to agree) was similar in appearance, could have been driving the black, Chevrolet Impala on August 1, 2013, the date of the charged offense. The state’s sole witness was a law enforcement officer who testified that, on August 1, 2013, he saw appellant (from two blocks away with the aid of binoculars) emerge from his residence with school-aged children, get into the driver’s seat of the Impala, and drive off with the children. The officer testified that he had a clear view of the driver’s face and ‘[i]mmediately’ recognized appellant because he had seen appellant in the area ‘[n]umerous times.’ Although the officer attempted to catch up with the Impala as it drove away, he lost it in traffic, he testified.” Jackson v. State, 166 So. 3d 195, 197 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015)

Over the defense lawyer’s objection, the judge permitted the state attorney to elicit testimony from the police officer about other times that he had seen the defendant driving. The officer testified that he saw the defendant after this arrest at a gas station and approached him. The Florida First District Court of Appeals found that this evidence was inadmissible, because “the objected-to testimony about the officer’s subsequent encounter with appellant at the gas station was offered to show, not his identity, but his propensity to drive with a revoked license…. Admission of the officer’s testimony about an uncharged offense at another time and place was error. The trial court explicitly considered the inadmissible testimony in reaching its decision.” Jackson, 166 So. 3d at 201. The appellate court reversed the case and sent it back to the trial court.

 

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