Suspended driver's license case law

Case Law in Suspended Driving Cases

Case law is appellate court opinions that interpret the laws as written. Lower courts either must follow the interpretations of the appellate court or must consider the mandates as persuasive argument.

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Suspended Driver’s License Case Law

This page contains case law regarding the offenses of Driving With A Suspended Driver’s License and Driving With A Suspended Driver’s License As A Habitual Traffic Offender.


Zarsky v. State (DHSMV), 300 So.2d 261 (Fla. 1974): Finding the Habitual Traffic Offender statute, s. 322.264, Fla. Stat., to be constitutional. The suspension is a civil administrative act in compliance with the legislative mandate to regulate the privilege to drive a motor vehicle and temporarily or permanently exclude that privilege to people whose behavior is considered a public nuisance. See also, Abraham v. State, 301 So.2d 11 (Fla. 1974).

Legislative Intent

Lord v. Davis, 288 So.2d 260 (Fla. 1st DCA 1974): Legislative intent of statute.

Double Jeopardy

Dees v. State, 54 So.3d 644 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011): Defendant cannot be found guilty of DWLS-HTO, DWLS, and driving without a valid driver’s license for the same conduct.

Duff v. State, 942 So.2d 926 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006): Case involves DWLS prosecution and DWLS-HTO prosecution for same conduct. Case goes into Degrees Variant analysis of double jeopardy. Defendant is this case pled to DWLS and then appealed felony DWLS-HTO. Court concluded it violated double jeopardy. Affirmed, Gil v. State, 118 So.3d 787 (Fla. 2013).

Logan v. State, 877 So.2d 952 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004): Franklin does not apply to the facts when convictions and sentences did not involve a single offense regarding convictions for DWLS-HTO and DWLS-permanenetly revoked.

Franklin v. State, 816 So.2d 1203 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002): A defendant cannot be convicted of a violation of s. 322.34(2), which expressly does not apply to persons whose licenses have been revoked pursuant to s. 322.264, i.e., habitual offenders.

Webb v. State, 816 So.2d 1190 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002): the defendant’s convictions under sections 322.34(5) and 322.341 did not violate the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

State v. Cooke, 767 So.2d 468 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000): Sections 322.34(2) amd 322.34(5), Fla. Stats., are separate offenses and prosecution under both does not violate double jeopardy prohibition.

Roedel v. State, 773 So.2d 1280 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000): Double jeopardy protections attach for prosecution under both DWLS and NVDL statutes. A defendant cannot be found guilty of both for same conduct.

Hallman v. State, 492 So.2d 1136 (Fla. 2d DCA 1986): Defendant cannot be convicted twice for Driving With A Suspended Driver’s License during a single driving episode.

Stop Issues

Eldridge v. State, 817 So.2d 884 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002): If the DMV provides erroneous information to an officer and the officer stops and detains a driver based on that erroneous information, the exclusionary rule will bar admission of evidence seized as a result of the search incident to that arrest. Citing, Shadler v. State, 761 So. 2d 279 (Fla. 2000).

Proof Of Felony DWLS

Bruce v. State, 993 So.2d 155 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008): Defendant is allowed to challenge a guilty plea to Felony-DWLS when, after the fact, it was determined that the prerequisite offenses were pre-1997 when there was not element of knowledge.

Stutts v. State, 821 So.2d 449 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002): For out-of-state DWLSR convictions to serve as prior convictions for purposes of subsection 322.34(2), the elements of the out-of-state law must be substantially similar to the Florida statute.

Garrett v. State, 803 So.2d 801 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001): Concluding that a computerized driving record is insufficient proof of the prior offense required to convict a defendant of the felony offense of driving while license suspended.

Garcia v. State, 800 So.2d 725 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001): When prior convictions constitute an element of a charged crime, the prior convictions must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by introduction of certified copies of each judgment.

Badger v. State, 798 So.2d 890 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001): Finding the predicate convictions relied on by the State to enhance the offense to a felony occurred prior to October 1, 1997. The crimes on which those convictions were based, accordingly, did not include the element of knowledge.

Huss v. State, 771 So.2d 591 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000): At the time appellant received the prior convictions, the statute did not require proof of “knowledge” as an element of the offense, and thus, his prior convictions cannot be counted as “convictions” under the 1997 provisions of section 322.34(2). Affirmed, Thompson v. State, 887 So.2d 1260 (Fla. 2004).

Sylvester v. State, 770 So.2d 249 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000): It is not enough that the state introduce the driving record if it plans to enhance a defendant’s punishment; the state must prove that the defendant has been convicted of each crime that is used to enhance the defendant’s punishment. The state must prove the prior convictions and link the defendant to the convictions.

Proof of Habitual Traffic Offender Status

Neary v. State, 63 So.3d 897 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011): No records maintained by the Department were utilized to establish that the Defendant was a habitual traffic offender. Out-of-state records are not maintained by the Department and cannot be the basis to qualify the defendant as a “habitual traffic offender” under section 322.264 and cannot be convicted under section 322.34(5).

State v. Alhindi, 971 So.2d 222 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008): Subsequent removal of improper designation of HTO status after being charged with DWLS-HTO does not alleviate the original status. Duty on defendant to correct error upon notice and not to drive while so designated.

State v. Byrd, 969 So.2d 581 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007): Redacted driving record is insufficient to prove DWLS-HTO if it does not show suffient convictions needed for HTO designation unless redaction is agreed upon by both parties. See, Law v. State, 40 So.3d 857 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)(indicating it is also permissible if redacted portion’s probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect); Weathers v. State, 937 So.2d 1132 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006)(indicating that defense waived error on redacted driving record when it failed to specifically object to it at trial).

State v. James, 928 So.2d 1269 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006): Despite a pending challenge to a prior conviction for DWLS, one of the underlying convictions that resulted in that designation, at the time of the current offense the DMV records accurately reflected the existence of three prior convictions. Any collateral challenge to a prior conviction, therefore, would not impact the facts as they were when the defendant was stopped. At that time, the DMV records accurately reflected the habitual traffic offender designation.

Kallelis v. State, 909 So.2d 544 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005): The driving record as maintained by the DMV did not show the requisite convictions to qualify him as a habitual traffic offender in accordance with the statute. Therefore, the state did not prove a prima facie case, and the judgment of acquittal should have been granted.

Jedrzewski v. DHSMV, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 888a (12th Jud. Cir., Jul 15, 2004): Although Raulerson requires knowledge of suspension by the driver in order to enhance the criminal degree of the charge of driving while license suspended, its holding does not prevent use of convictions imposed pursuant to Section 322.34(1) in determining habitual traffic offender status and subsequent Department suspensions as a result thereof.

Arnett v. State, 843 So.2d 340 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003): State attempted to introduce DHSMV Order of Suspension (not driving record) to prove DWLS-HTO. In order to be admissible under section 90.803(6)(a), the business record must be shown to have been: (1) made at or near the time of the event recorded, (2) by or from information transmitted by a person with knowledge, (3) kept in the course of a regularly conducted business activity, and (4) the regular practice of that business to make such a record.

Bowen v. State, 832 So.2d 288 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002): Proof that a defendant had accumulated three of the enumerated convictions within a five-year period is not required to establish a violation of section 322.34(5), Florida Statutes (2000).

Arthur v. State, 818 So.2d 589 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002): The elements of the offense are (1) that while defendant’s license was revoked as an “habitual offender” (2) he drove a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state. The charged offense was continuing to drive after being notified that the Department had determined the defendant was an habitual traffic offender and that his license had been revoked for that reason.

State v. Fields, 809 So.2d 99 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002): When a driver has been deemed a habitual traffic offender pursuant to section 322.264 and has received adequate administrative due process as provided by that section, it is not necessary to produce certified records of the prior convictions under section 322.34(5). See, Kirschner v. State, 915 So.2d 624 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005): Where state failed to introduce driving record of the defendant.

Rodgers v. State, 804 So.2d 725 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001): The requirements for a conviction under section 322.34(5), [DWLS-HTO] the statute as written by the Legislature merely makes it necessary for the state to prove by competent evidence that DMV maintains a record on the motorist, that its record shows the requisite three separate DWLS convictions within a 5 year period, and that DMV gave the motorist the statutory notice. Affirmed, Johnson v. State, 62 So.3d 1169 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Hagar, 581 So.2d 214 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991): The Department can use out of state convictions for moving violations to account for the 15 moving violations needed to revoke the driving privileges under the Habitual Traffic Offender statute.

Proof Of DWLS for Permanently Revoked Driver’s License

State v. Miller, 830 So.2d 214 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002): The State may make a sufficient prima facie showing that the defendant’s license was permanently revoked and that he was given notice of the revocation by introducing a certified copy of the defendant’s driving record maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Affirmed, State v. Tucker, 832 So.2d 218 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002).

Evidence; Stacking Penalties; s.318.14(10), Fla. Stat.

Keitt v. State, 50 So.3d 801 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011): Entering a plea for DWLS-HTO waives all challenges to the predicate offenses.

Wyrick v. State, 50 So.3d 674 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010): By adopting section 322.34(10), Florida Statutes, the Legislature made an exception to the general scheme of Chapter 322 by granting certain leniency to persons who became an HTO only because of those reasons listed in (10)(a)1.-5. To say that one could take advantage of that legislative leniency by having some but not all of the violations based on failures of financial responsibility would appear to fly in the face of the intention to discourage repeat offenders from driving on Florida’s streets and highways.

Raleigh v. State, 46 So.3d 1018 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010): Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.220(h)(1)(D) regarding the taking of depositions applies to felony traffic cases. Good cause must be shown.

Mattingly v. State, 41 So.3d 1020 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010): Florida law makes it illegal for a person with a suspended, canceled or revoked license to drive a motor vehicle on the highways of the state. Highway is defined under section 322.01(39), Florida Statutes, as a the entire width between the boundary lines of a way or place if any part of that way or place is open to public use for purposes of vehicular traffic. The definition of a street or highway in the statute includes traffic ways and parking areas that are open to public use by vehicles even though the areas are not owned or maintained by a governmental agency. Whether a street is considered to be open to public use is usually a question of fact. See also, Galston v. State, 943 So.2d 968 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006)(stating the Legislature expressly directed that the definition of highway found in section 322.01(38) shall be used to define the term “highway” as used in section 322.341. Thus, the Legislature expressly prohibited the use of the definition in section 633.021(12) to define the term “highway” in section 322.341.

Vaughn v. State, 29 So.3d 423 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010): The defendant correctly argues that convictions under section 322.34(1), driving with a suspended license without knowledge of the suspension, cannot be used as a predicate to enhance later convictions of driving while license cancelled, suspended or revoked with knowledge.

Deatherage v. State, 15 So.3d 775 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009): Section 318.14(10), Florida Statutes, cannot be applied retroactively.

Patterson v. State, 938 So.2d 625 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006): A prior DWLS conviction due to an uncounseled plea can be used as a predicate offense by the DHSMV to designate a defendant as a Habitual Traffic Offender. However, it cannot be used to enhance the penalty of a subsequent DWLS.

Card v. State, 927 So.2d 200 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006): Driving records are kept in Florida for the public benefit and are not solely prepared for trial purposes. A driving record contains neither expressions of opinion nor conclusions requiring the exercise of discretion, and is not made or kept for law enforcement or trial purposes. Thus, it clearly falls within the type of hearsay recognized in Crawford that is admissible in a criminal trial without implicating the defendant’s confrontation rights.

Inman v. State, 916 So.2d 59 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005): An electric powered two-wheeled scooter is a motor vehicle for purposes of DWLS.

DHSMV v. Gaskins, 891 So.2d 643 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005): Florida follows the general rule that a change in a licensure statute that occurs during the pendency of an application of licensure is operative as to the application, so that the law as changed, rather than as it existed at the time the application was filed, determines whether the license should be granted.

Jones v. State, 832 So.2d 207 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002): Any person who has been cited for operating a motor vehicle with a license that has been suspended for failure to appear, failure to pay a civil penalty, or failure to attend a driver improvement course may in lieu of payment of fine or court appearance, elect to enter a plea of nolo contendere and provide proof of compliance to the clerk of the court. In such case, adjudication shall be withheld and not counted toward the Habitual Traffic Offender status. Failure to provide proof of compliance prior to the court appearance date cannot act as a strict bar to the benefit of this statute, because Traffic Rule 6.360(b) authorizes the clerk to allow a person up to 60 additional days to reinstate the license. If a defendant still needs additional time to comply with section 318.14(10), a judge or traffic hearing officer may extend the time for compliance. Fla. R. Traf. Ct. 6.360(b); 6.040(a).

Raulerson v. State, 763 So.2d 285 (Fla. 2000): The issue is whether s. 322.34, Fla. Stat., is Constitutional. It is. Also clarifies what a conviction is under the statute. Additionally, supports Keirn court’s decision regarding benefit of s. 318.14(10), Fla. Stat.

Janos v. State, 763 So.2d 1094 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999): Use of section 318.14(10), Fla. Stat., is not limited and can be used by any defendant that meets the criteria of the statute and acts as a bar for further prosecution. Compare, DHSMV v. Rosenthal, 908 So.2d 602 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005); Affirmed, Sierra v. State, 956 So.2d 1266 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

State v. Keirn, 720 So.2d 1085 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998): Case decides that for purposes of s. 322.34, Fla. Stat., the meaning of conviction is the finding of guilt. Therefore, a DWLS charge where the defendant is found guilty but has adjudication withheld can still be enhanced for subsequent violations except for instances where the defendant avails himself of the remedies found under s. 318.14(10), Fla. Stat. Suggests that use of s. 318.14(10), Fla. Stat. can be extended beyond the defendant’s scheduled court appearance.

Knowledge Of Invalid Driver’s License

Anderson v. State, 87 So.3d 774 (Fla. 2012): The knowledge requirement is satisfied by annotation on the Department’s driving record that it sent notice to the defendant’s last known address. In situations where the rebuttable presumption does not apply the state need only establish that the defendant received notice. In this case the state established that the last known address was the current address of the defendant. The state does not have to prove that the defendant actually knew of the suspension. This case overrules Brown v. State, 764 So.2d 741 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) and Haygood v. State, 824 So.2d 252 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) to the extent that they conflict with this decision.

Quest v. State, 837 So.2d 1106 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003): The State did not introduce any evidence the defendant received notice of his December 2000 suspension, and the defendant did not admit knowledge of the instant suspension. A conviction for driving with a suspended license under section 322.34(2) cannot stand. The Court rejected the State’s contention that knowledge should be imputed of the December 2000 suspension since the defendant was cited for driving with a suspended license on two previous occasions. These past two citations under section 322.34(1), for prior suspensions (which were subsequently reinstated), do not impute knowledge of the new December 2000 suspension.

Fields v. State, 731 So.2d 753 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999): Knowledge is not an element of the offense of Driving While License Suspended as a Habitual Traffic Offender. Section 322.34, Fla. Stat., has since been amended. See Anderson, above.

Actual Physical Control of the Motor Vehicle

State v. Bostick, 751 So.2d 780 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000): The state can proceed in a Driving With A Suspended Driver’s License case under the theory of actual physical control, statute amended.

State v. Tucker, 761 So.2d 1248 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000): Statute requires that defendant operate or be in actual physical control of motor vehicle [and]in any place open to the general public for purposes of vehicular traffic.

Requirement Of A Driver’s License; Reinstatement Issues

Carroll v. State, 761 So.2d 417 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000): States that a defendant can be found guilty of DWLS-HTO despite never having been issued a driver’s license. But see, Crain v. State, 79 So.3d 118 (Fla.1st DCA 2012)(adopting a contrary view from the Carroll court that a person cannot be charged with DWLS-HTO without first having obtained a driver’s license).

Blandin v. State, 976 So.2d 1201 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008): A defendant must reinstate his driving privilege after the period of revocation otherwise the revocation remains in place and in effect.

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