Written by attorney Michael R. Cohen

Wisconsin Habitual Traffic Offender Overview

In Wisconsin, Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status is a status against your motor vehicle operator's privilege/license which prevents operation by revocation for a miminum of 5 years. During this rime, one cannot get an occupational/work privilege license for a minimum of two years. Obviously, then it is important to try to avoid having this HTO status imposed against your license privilege.

One becomes an HTO in a number of ways:

A. Accumulation of 4 or more Major traffic violation convictions within a 5 year period:

(Reckless or Negligent Homicide with a Motor Vehicle, Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving, OWI or DUI, Resual to take a chemical test, Hit and Run Causing Injury, Fleeing, Any felony level offense with a motor vehicle, appropriate out of state convictions for such offenses);

B. Accumulation of 12 Minor traffic violations which carry demerit points:

(Speeding, Defective Speedometer, Illegal passing, Imprudnet Speed, etc.);

C. Accumulation of a combination of 12 Major and/or Minor violations.

Because Courts and Prosecutors are not required to advise drivers of possible HTO consequences, it is important to know your status. The Wis. DOT does send out warning letters but only to people who are close to the status. It is important therefore to individually pay attention to your case. The DOT will provide a copy of a driving status to anyone upon request.

Although many prosecutors are amenable to working with people to attempt to avod an HTO situation, if an old case is not addressed within 6 months of the original conviction there is very little if anything that can be done to fix that case.

Accumulating as few as one additional Major or 2 additonal Minor convictions while under HTO occupational license status can cause an additional 5 year revocation period to be added. (Repeat HTO status).

While there is right to challenge the HTO status in court, the scope of the hearing is very limited and the burden is on the friver to show there is a mistake on the record.

If you find yourself in an HTO situation, or close, you may wish to seek the assistance of counsel to work with you to try to fix your driving record to help avoid the issue.

Additional resources provided by the author

DMV Web site: DMV Online Services:

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer