If my Drivers License is suspended for 5 years as a Habitual Traffic Offender, can I get it back?
If you are pulled over for driving while license suspended (DWLS) and you didn't know that your license was suspended when you drove, this is a civil (non-criminal offense) and you are just given a written citation. When you are just given a written citation, if you pay that ticket you will be adjudicated guilty (convicted).
Most people do not know that if they get convicted of three DWLS charges within a five year period, they will most certainly have their license revoked by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a period of 5 years. A civil DWLS conviction (when you just paid the ticket) will count as a strike toward habitualization just the same as if it were a criminal DWLS. Most people just pay these tickets thinking that it is the right thing to do. After all, one's license will be suspended if they fail to pay their tickets anyway. What often happens is that well-intentioned people pay their civil DWLS tickets and wind up with their license suspended for a period of 5 years. If you are in this category, you are probably wondering if there is anything you can do to get your license back.
A knowledgeable attorney may file the appropriate motion to have your prior DWLS conviction withdrawn by a judge. This is routinely achieved in Brevard County where I practice law. Most courts realize that it is unfair for a person to be given a citation and not be informed that by paying the ticket, they are involuntarily setting themselves up for a 5 year license suspension. Most courts in my county will allow the Defendant to withdraw the "plea" (the act of paying the ticket and therefore essentially pleading guilty). The judge will then impose a “withhold of adjudication" instead of an adjudication of guilt. In one of the lesser known caveats to criminal law, a judicial withhold of adjudication on a civil DWLS will not count toward habilitualization. By having the third strike erased, the client can then go get his or her license reinstated.