Criminal traffic offenses are the most common and most insidious crimes with which a person can be charged. Often considered innocuous, these offenses can have long term damaging effects on your future.
Remember, at an accident you are required to provide law enforcement information regarding the accident. These communications cannot be used against you. As soon as they read you your rights, they are now conducting a criminal investigation – invoke your Right to Remain Silent.
As of January 1, 2023, I will be retiring from representing people for criminal traffic offenses. I will remain available for traffic infractions, toll tickets, and expungements of criminal records on a limited basis.
Common Criminal Traffic Crimes
Below are a list of some of the more common criminal traffic offenses charged in Florida, with a brief description. Have you been charged with one of these offenses? Contact me now.
Note, all below listed offenses can impact your ability to maintain a valid drivers license.
DUI, BUI, or Drunk Driving/Boating
DUI is the most popularized traffic offense. It became a targeted offense for enhancement in the early ’80s with the advent of the breathalyzer. The is a serious offense because the consequences of a conviction will have a long term affect on your life.
Moreover, once you receive a ticket for DUI/BUI, you only have a few days to respond to protect your ability to drive for work and other necessities. If you wait, you will have your license taken away.
Things to do immediately if you are arrested for DUI:
- Read all paperwork you received from the police, especially the ticket – front and back.
- Find where your local DMV Bureau of Administrative Review is located (https://www.flhsmv.gov/locations/)
- Within three days Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Section 316.193, Florida Statutes, Driving Under the Influence
Reckless driving is rarely charged at roadside. Unlike “careless driving,” which is associated with traffic accidents, reckless driving is a criminal offense. The reckless driving charge is more commonly given as a alternative plea for people who have been arrested for DUI.
Section 316. 192, Florida Statutes, Reckless Driving
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
The legislature enhanced the penalties of this offense several years ago with the realization that many people who leave the scene of an accident they are involved in, do so because they have been drinking and fear being charged with DUI.
However, it is often the case that a person involved in an accident does not know that they have to remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. This is especially true when the accident is minor.
Things to do if involved in a vehicle accident:
- Make contact with the other driver. If either of your are injured, contact 911 immediately.
- If accident is minor and neither want to involve the police, get other driver’s information (Name, phone number, license plate number, etc.) and move on. Keep that information just incase law enforcement arrives at your door. By law, you must exchange this information and insurance information.
- If other driver drives off (without making contact) call the police and report the accident. If you don’t and he/she does, you’ll be cited for leaving the scene.
- If you don’t know what to do – Call the police and report the accident.
Fleeing & Eluding Law Enforcement
Fleeing and eluding law enforcement, basically not stopping when being pulled over, is a felony offense and requires a license suspension if the accused is found guilty. The severity of punishment for this offense is often determined by the description of the events surrounding the arrest.
This is a very serious offense, that can include:
- minimum mandatory imprisonment,
- forfeiture of the vehicle, and
- license suspension.
Never ignore the police. If they are signally you to stop, pull over. People who fear being arrested often make their situation worse by fleeing.
Section 316.1935, Florida Statutes, Fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer
Failure to Obey Law Enforcement Officer
‘Failure to obey law enforcement officer’ is the less severe sibling to ‘fleeing and eluding law enforcement.’ This is when a law enforcement officer or fire department personnel directs you to drive in a particular manner and you fail to do so. Can be used as an offense in lieu of Fleeing and Eluding.
Knowingly Driving While License Suspended [DWLS]
There are multiple ways to get your license suspended. Knowingly driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor. The civil citation (traffic ticket) cousin to this offense is “Unknowingly Driving on a Suspended License.” Unfortunately, the fact of whether you knew or did not know your license was suspended is usurped by the discretion of the issuing law enforcement officer.
DRIVING WHILE LICENSE SUSPENDED citations, both criminal and civil, should always be addressed by an attorney. The ramifications to maintaining a “valid” drivers license is heavily impacted by guilty dispositions and resolutions involving these tickets.
If you resolve three DWLS citations within 5-years of each other, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [DMV] will suspend your license for 5-years!
If you receive a DWLS ticket (either criminal or civil) you should immediately contact a Criminal Traffic Attorney.
Section 322.34, Florida Statutes, Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified.
Driving Without a Valid License & Expired License (more than 6 months)
Easily mistaken as a civil traffic ticket, this citation has less ramifications than either “Driving on a Suspended License” offenses, but it remains a criminal misdemeanor.
If you are driving and have never been licensed or your license has been expired for more than six months, you can me charged with this criminal offense.
Many people simply go to court and accept the offer from the court or the prosecutor. By entering a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘no contest’ to this offense can have long term repercussions.
Section 322.03, Florida Statutes, Drivers Must Be Licensed
Racing on Highway
Don’t let the name fool you. This can be a lot of different driving behaviors and none are required to be on a highway. Courts and prosecutors do not take kindly to this offense.
The good news is that often there are viable defenses. The statute is so poorly written that just about any type of driving pattern can be considered racing. Some of the patterns are actually simple civil citations.
The one pattern that is not a simple citation and is the hardest to defend is Drag Racing. When you are caught in a remote location, with other vehicles, and you are organizing cars lining up side by side and signally them to start.
Just about any other circumstance where a Racing on the Highway criminal citation is issued has some defense.
You should always have a lawyer represent you for Racing on the Highway, i.e., street racing.
Section 316.191, Florida Statutes, Racing on Highways
There are many other criminal traffic offenses, including the very serious DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Manslaughter, and Vehicular Homicide.
All criminal traffic offenses should be taken seriously and acted on immediately even if they seem minor. Some, like DUI, have serious time limitations for protecting your ability to legally drive. Don’t hesitate.
Hiring a Criminal Traffic Lawyer
I have been practicing criminal law in the Central Florida area since 1995. I began as a prosecutor and have been in private practice since 2002. If you would like to have a consultation regarding your case, please fill out the form below. I will contact you as soon as possible.