One of the possible penalties of accepting a plea to a criminal charge is being labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). As an HTO, your license is suspended for five years, and you cannot apply to receive a hardship license until at least one year of that suspension has passed. There are two types of charges that count toward making someone HTO and how you resolve your case can be crucial.
A Driving while License Suspended (DWLS) with knowledge is a misdemeanor, whereas a DWLS without knowledge is a non-criminal traffic infraction. Receiving three DWLS with knowledge (regardless of whether you are adjudicated by the court or adjudication is withheld) within a five-year period will result in an HTO suspension. (Read about important differences between a DWLS with knowledge and another common criminal charge.)
A DWLS without knowledge will NOT count toward your HTO if adjudication is withheld. That means if you go before a judge or hearing officer, you must receive a "withhold of adjudication" to prevent it counting toward your license suspension. If you are adjudicated on a DWLS without knowledge, that will count toward your HTO status. However, what most people do not realize is that by paying the fine (either at the clerk's window or online) it counts as an admission of guilt, you will be adjudicated, and it WILL count toward one of your three strikes toward HTO status. Therefore, it is crucial that you ask that the matter be set in court and that you try to get a "withhold of adjudication" so that it doesn't count toward a possible five-year suspension.
Contact our office for a FREE consultation before accepting a sentence to a charge that can impact your driver's license!