“Habitual traffic offender” is a criminal charge reflecting a history of dangerous driving. It is possible to be declared a habitual traffic offender for DUI.
The California Vehicle Code doesn’t just outlaw certain specific acts, like driving under the influence. It also tracks how often you break traffic laws. If you break too many serious laws too often, you could be charged with an additional violation known as the Habitual Traffic Offender Law. If you are declared a habitual traffic offender, you will face criminal penalties. Many drivers charged with DUI find themselves facing habitual traffic offender status as well.
Who can be charged as a habitual traffic offender?
There are several ways to be charged as a habitual traffic offender. You could be charged if you did any of the following within a twelve month period:
- You had your license suspended, and committed 2 or more serious traffic crimes like DUI, reckless driving, or hit and run
- You had your license suspended, and committed 3 or more minor traffic violations like speeding, running a stop sign, etc.
- You had your license suspended, and were involved in 3 or more traffic accidents that were serious enough to be reported to the police ($750 or more in property damage and/or someone was hurt)
- You had your license suspended, and were involved in any combination of accidents and violations that result in 3 or more points on your driver’s license.
Anyone who commits 2 DUI’s in a single year would count as a habitual traffic offender, because the second DUI would have happened while your license was still suspended for the first DUI.
Additionally, anyone convicted of a fourth time DUI will be given habitual traffic offender status for three years.
What are the consequences of habitual traffic offender status?
Being a habitual traffic offender is both a criminal offense, and a status you carry with you for years. If you have this status, you face additional criminal penalties every time you are caught driving on a suspended license.
There are separate penalties for first time habitual offenders, and repeat habitual offenders.
First time penalties include:
- 30 days in jail
- $1,000 fine
- Up to three years’ probation
Repeat offense penalties include:
- 180 days (6 months) in jail
- $2,000 fine
- Up to three years’ probation
These penalties are in addition to the DUI penalties you already face. Plus, you will face extra penalties again if you are ever caught driving on a suspended license. That makes habitual offender status a very serious addition to a DUI offense.
It is possible to fight a habitual traffic offender charge. A good DUI lawyer may be able to get this charge dropped from the case against you. They may also be able to win your DUI case, get the DUI reduced to a lesser charge, or help you negotiate an outcome you can live with.
If you’ve been charged with DUI or habitual offender status, we can help. Let us connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.