I want to get an HTO removed
This answer is not legal advice but just general information. Talk to an attorney for legal advice.
Most people who are a habitual traffic offender received the HTO revocation because of three tickets for driving while license suspended either with knowledge (which is criminal) or without knowledge (which a civil infraction). In order to remove the 5 year revocation you can go back to the judge who has jurisdiction over the conviction and ask the judge to let you undo the damage by vacating or setting aside the conviction.
You are arguing that your plea was coerced or entered without a full understanding of the direct consequences of the conviction. Technically, the HTO consequence is an indirect consequence so the request often alleges some other direct consequence that you did not know about when you entered the plea and the HTO revocation proves the prejudice.
If successful, you must then ask the court to withhold adjudication in a civil case for DWLS without knowledge (which does not count as a strike against you for HTO purposes). Or in a criminal case you can fight the ticket with the goal of getting the prosecutor to reduce the offense to "no valid driver's license" which is a second degree misdemeanor that does not count toward one of the three strikes against you for HTO purposes.
Our office typically charges $950 to file a motion to vacate a civil ticket, and $1,500 to file a motion to vacate a criminal ticket for a misdemeanor DWLS with knowledge. You can visit our website at www.criminaldefenseattorneytampa.com or www.SammisLawFirm.com for more information.
No attorney can promise you any result - ever. These habitual traffic offender revocations motions are routinely granted in Hillsborough County for the third offense that caused the HTO revocation (but this totally depends on the judge, the facts of the case, and the driving record). In fact, even the public defenders in Hillsborough County have started filing them in select cases to help a client undo a HTO revocation when that client is later charged with another DWLS case while being HTO.
Similar results are common in Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and Manatee County, where we routinely practice. Certain Seminole County judges refuse to grant the motion on a DWLS without knowledge case if the motion is filed outside of the 30 days after the conviction (although the judges may have changed that position in the last 3-4 months). Every county is different. Find an attorney in your county or a surrounding county who is familiar with the practices in the particular courtroom in which your motion to vacate will be heard.
HTO revocations do not make much sense. In my opinion the law needs to be changed. Especially if the person was not represented by an attorney or was never warned that they were entering a plea to a third offense that would cause the 5 year revocation. Many good people have their lives destroyed by a HTO revocation. Once they are dug in too deep they can not find (or afford) a way out. Everyone who gets that letter should talk with several attorneys to find out what options might be available.
The first step is getting a copy of your lifetime Florida driving record. You must act quickly because certain remedies are only available during certain time periods. Also, stop driving until you have the HTO revocation lifted or you obtain a hardship DL.
Visit the link that I added below for more information about habitual traffic offender revocations in Florida, particular for the Tampa Bay area.
There are a few things you can do before you approach a local attorney that may aid their pricing decision. The first thing you should do is go the DMV/courthouse and purchase a copy of your driving record. Also, if you've paid any tickets recently, you should bring those receipts to the attorney's office as well. Third, find the letter sent to you from DMV initially indicating your HTO suspension, that letter can be helpful. With these three things, an attorney can best decide how much to charge you for any HTO removal (assuming, as stated above, that removing the HTO is even possible).
Also, how long has it been since the initial suspension? You may be eligible for a business/employment purposes only license after the first year of the 5 year suspension period. There are certain hoops you have to jump thru to get there, such as completing a 12 hour driver's class, but it's worth it, right??
John Guidry II
Mr. Jay is correct. Sometimes the fee is reduced because a judge who handled an earlier plea is reasonable. Often, we refuse to take a case if we think there is no chance based on prior dealings with a judge or the number of "convictions" that would have to be removed. In addition, attorneys in your part of the State have a higher overhead than most and therefore may charge differently than an attorney in central Florida.
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