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Traffic Crimes

Updated: May 7, 2023

At Olowu Law, P.A., we believe no criminal charge is trivial and even a traffic offense can have harsh consequences- Don’t Go It Alone- A traffic crime is any traffic violation that adds point to your license or punishable as a misdemeanor or felony offense.


Operating An Unregistered Car


Under Florida law (Florida statutes 320.02(1), before a person can legally operate a motor vehicle on roadways, they must first register the vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Once a vehicle is registered the owner of the vehicle will receive a registration card and a yellow sticker that has the expiration date of the registration; this sticker is required to go on a person’s license plate. A registration is not required for any motor vehicle that is not operated on the roads of this State.

Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)

Under Florida law (Florida statute 322.34), it is against the law to knowingly drives a vehicle while your driver license is canceled, suspended, or revoked. Driving while License Suspended (DWLS) is a common criminal charge in Florida’s court system, it is a charge that most lawyers and defendants resolve incorrectly because they do not take the time to develop a proper defense. Instead, they simply advise clients to plead to a withhold and pay small fine.

Depending on the DWLS charge you may qualify to have your charges dismissed by the Prosecutor/State if the defendant can get a valid license. (Diversion program).

Three DWLS convictions within a five-year period will result in a five-year driver license revocation as a Habitual Traffic Offender (Withhold of Adjudication counts as a conviction under Florida law).

To be convicted of Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Driver's License was Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked.

    1. A certified copy of the driver's Florida DHSMV driving record is introduced to prove whether a person's driver license was suspended, canceled, or revoked on the date of the offense. However, the Florida DHSMV makes mistakes and very frequently shows a valid driver’s license as being suspended.

  2. The Driver had Advance Knowledge of the Suspension, Cancellation, or Revocation. (The State/Prosecutor can prove knowledge in any of the following ways)

    1. The driver admits to knowledge of the suspension, cancellation, or revocation.

    2. The driver has previously been cited for DWLS (without an intervening license reinstatement).

    3. The driver received a court order, judgment, or administrative order containing a notice that the person’s driver license was being suspended, canceled, or revoked.

  3. The Vehicle was Driven on a Florida Highway.

    1. The prosecutor must prove the vehicle was driven on a Florida Highway. And while uncommon, there are certain roadways and areas that are not consider part of Florida’s highways such as being arrested in a construction zone, a gated community, or on private land. It is possible have a DWLS case dismissed if the driving was conducted solely within one of these unique areas.


Penalty/Punishment for Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked

First Offense Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked: Under Florida law (Florida statutes 322.34(2)(a), first offense of driving while license is suspended, canceled, or revoked is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by:

Up to 60 days in jail,

Up to 6 months of probation, and

Up to a $500 fine.

Second or Subsequent Offense Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked: Under Florida law (Florida Statutes 322.34(2)(b), the second or subsequent offense of driving while license is suspended, canceled, or revoked is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida punishable by:

Up to 1 year in jail

Up to 1 year of probation, and

Up to a $1,000 fine.


Third Offense Driving While License Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked: Under Florida law (Florida statutes 322.34(2)(c), third offense of driving while license suspended, canceled, or revoked is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison

Up to 5 years of probation, and

Up to $5,000 in fines.

Mandatory minimum of ten (10) days in jail.


Unlawful Use of Driver’s License

Under Florida law (Florida statute 322.32), to prove the crime of unlawful use of driver’s

license, the State/Prosecutor must prove any of the elements:

  1. Displays or possesses any canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified driver’s license knowing that such driver’s license has been canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified.

  2. Lends their driver’s license to any other person or knowingly permit another to use the license.

  3. Displays or represents a license belonging to another person as being their own.

  4. Refuses to surrender to the DHSMV or a law enforcement officer, upon lawful demand, any driver’s license that has been suspended, revoked, disqualified, or canceled.

  5. Permits any unlawful use of a driver’s license; or applies for, obtains, or causes to be issued, two or more photographic driver’s licenses of the same person which are in different names.


Penalty/Punishment for Unlawful Use of Driver’s License

The crime of unlawful use of a driver’s license is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by:

Up to 60 days county jail.

Up to 6 months of probation.

Up to $500 in fines.


Fleeing To Elude a Law Enforcement Officer

Fleeing to elude police officers is a crime that involves driving away from a police officer after the officer instructs you to stop.

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.1935(1), to prove the crime of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was operating a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida.

  2. A duly authorized law enforcement officer ordered the defendant to stop or remain stopped.

  3. Defendant knowing [he] [she] had been ordered to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer.

    1. Having stopped the vehicle, willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude the officer or

    2. Willfully refused or failed to stop the vehicle in compliance with the order.

Street or highway means the entire width between boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.


Penalty/Punishment for Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.1935(1), fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison.

Up to 5 years of probation.

Up to $5,000 in fines.

Driver’s license suspension (minimum 1 year, maximum 5 years).

No withhold of adjudication.


Fleeing To Elude A Law Enforcement Officer With Lights And Siren Activated


Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.1935(2), to prove the crime of Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer with Siren and Lights Activated, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was operating a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida.

  2. Defendant, knowing [he] [she] had been directed to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude a law enforcement officer.

  3. The law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle and with siren and lights activated.



Penalty/Punishment Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer with Siren and Lights Activated

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.1935(2), fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with siren and lights activated is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison.

Up to 5 years of probation.

Up to $5,000 in fines.

Driver’s license suspension (Minimum 1 year, maximum 5 years).

No withhold of adjudication.


Fleeing And Eluding With Lights And Siren Activated With High Speed Or Reckless Driving


Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.1935(3)(a), to prove the crime of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with siren and lights activated with high speed or reckless driving, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was operating a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida.

  2. Defendant knowing [he] [she] had been directed to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude a law enforcement officer.

  3. The law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle and with siren and lights activated.

  4. During the course of the fleeing or the attempt to elude, defendant drove at high speed or in any manner demonstrating a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.


Penalty/Punishment for Fleeing and Eluding with Lights and Siren Activated with High Speed or Reckless Driving

Under Florida law (Florida Statutes 316.1935(3)(a), fleeing and eluding with lights and siren activated with high speed or reckless driving is a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison.

Up to 15 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.

Driver’s license suspension (minimum 1 year, maximum 5 years).

No withhold of adjudication.


Fleeing To Elude A Law Enforcement Officer With Siren And Lights Activated With High Speed Or Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury Or Death


Under Florida law (Florida Statutes 316.1935(3)(b), to prove the crime to prove the crime of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer with siren and lights activated with high speed or reckless driving causing serious bodily injury or death, the State must prove the following five ( 5) elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was operating a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida.

  2. Defendant knowing [he] [she] had been directed to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude a law enforcement officer.

  3. The law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle and with siren and lights activated.

  4. During the course of the fleeing or the attempt to elude, defendant drove at high speed or in any manner demonstrating a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

  5. As a result of defendant’s fleeing or eluding at high speed or wanton disregard for safety, [he] [she] caused [the death of] [serious bodily injury to] [another person] [a law enforcement officer involved in pursuing or otherwise attempting to stop [his] [her] vehicle].

Serious bodily injury means an injury to a person [including the driver,] which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.


Penalty/Punishment for Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer with Siren and Lights Activated with High Speed or Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.1935(3)(b), fleeing and eluding with lights and siren activated with high speed or reckless driving causing serious bodily injury or death is a first-degree felony punishable by:

A minimum-mandatory sentence of 3 years imprisonment

Up to 30 years in prison.

Up to 30 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.

Driver’s license suspension (minimum 1 year, maximum 5 years).

No withhold of adjudication.

Vehicle involved in incident is deemed contraband and can be seized by police.


Common Defenses to Fleeing to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer

When dealing with crimes involving fleeing from police officers, here are some common defenses you can plead:

Failure to stop was not willful: it is a defense where the failure to stop was not willful, which can arise where the driver was distracted and did not hear the sirens or see the lights.

Emergency: this defense is applicable in situation where the driver’s failure to stop arise where he/she refused to stop maybe because of an emergency e.g., driving to the hospital.

Police was not in an authorized vehicle: this could arise in situations where driver was too afraid to pull over because he/she was in an unsafe area, or the police car was unmarked, and driver was not convinced it was an actual law enforcement officer asking him/her to pull over.



Leaving Scene of Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident commonly referred to as hit and run, is when a person who is involved in an accident fails to stop and exchange information or call the police to report said accident.



Leaving The Scene of A Crash Involving Attended Vehicle

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.061(1), to prove the crime of leaving the scene of a crash involving only damage to an attended vehicle or attended property, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash.

  2. The crash resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property.

  3. The [vehicle] [other property] was [driven] [attended] by (name of person).

  4. Defendant failed to stop at the scene of the crash or as close to the crash as possible and remain there until [he] [she] had given identifying information to (name of person in element #3) [and to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash].

Identifying information means the name, address, vehicle registration number, and if available and requested, the exhibition of the defendant’s license or permit to drive.


Penalty/Punishment For Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Only Damage to an Attended Vehicle /Attended Property

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.061(1), a person who leaves the scene of a crash involving only damage to an attended vehicle or property commits a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by:

Up to 60 days in jail.

Up to 6 months of probation.

Up to $500 fine.



Leaving The Scene of A Crash Involving Unattended Vehicle

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.063(1), to prove the crime of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage to an unattended vehicle or property, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash or collision.

  2. The crash or collision resulted in damage to another vehicle or other property.

  3. The vehicle or other property was not driven or attended by any person.

  4. Defendant failed to immediately stop at the scene of the crash or collision and then and there either

    1. Locates and notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of [his] [her] name and address and the registration number of the vehicle [he] [she] was driving, or

    2. Attaches securely in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving [his] [her] name and address and the registration number of the vehicle [he] [she] was driving, and, without unnecessary delay, notify the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority.


Penalty/Punishment Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Damage to an Unattended Vehicle or Unattended Property

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.063(1), leaving the scene of a crash involving damage to an unattended vehicle or unattended property is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 60 days in jail.

Up to 6 months of probation.

Up to $500 fine.


Leaving The Scene of A Crash Involving Death or Serious Injury

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.027(2)(c), to prove the crime of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant was the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property resulting in [injury to] or [death of] (victim).

  2. Defendant knew that [he] [she] was involved in a crash.

  3. Defendant either

    1. Defendant knew, or should have known from all of the circumstances, including the nature of the crash, of the injury to or death of (victim), or

    2. Defendant knew, or should have known from all of the circumstances, including the nature of the crash, of the injury to (victim).

  4. Defendant willfully failed to immediately stop at the scene of the crash or as close to the crash as possible and failed to remain until [he] [she] had

    1. given identifying information to [(victim)] [the driver] [an occupant] [a person attending the vehicle] and to any police officer investigating the crash; and

    2. rendered reasonable assistance to (victim).

Serious bodily injury means an injury to a person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.

Reasonable assistance includes carrying or making arrangements to carry an injured person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person. Under Florida statute 316.027, if a person is involved in an accident or crash those results in injury or death to any person, including a passenger, the driver is required to:

  1. Stop immediately at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible.

  2. Provide identifying information e.g., their name, address, registration information, and driver’s license; and

  3. Render reasonable assistance to the injured or deceased person by transporting, or making arrangements for the transportation, of the person to a medical professional for treatment if it is apparent that treatment is needed or the person requests assistance.


Penalty/ Punishment Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Injury

Under Florida statute 316.027(2)(a), The crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving death is a third-degree felony punishable by

Up to 5 years in prison.

Up to 5 years of probation.

Up to $5,000 fine.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.027 and 322.0261, any person convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury will have their driver’s license revoked for at least three (3) years by the Florida DHSMV and cannot obtain a hardship license until they complete a 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement Course.


Leaving The Scene of An Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury

Under Florida law (Florida Statute 316.027(2)(b), The crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury is a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison.

Up to 15 years of probation.

Up to a fine up to $10,000.

Driver’s License Revocation: Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.027 and 322.0261, any person convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury will have their driver’s license revoked for at least 3 years by the Florida DHSMV and cannot obtain a hardship license until they complete a 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement Course.


The inclusion of victim injury points under Florida’s sentencing guidelines can result in a minimum prison sentence a judge must impose, however victim injury points are generally only utilized when the crime actually caused the injury.


Leaving The Scene of An Accident Involving Death

Under Florida law (Florida Statute 316.027(2)(c), The crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving death is a first-degree felony, punishable by

Up to 30 years in prison or

Up to 30 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 fine.

Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 4 years.

Driver’s License Revocation: Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.027 and 322.0261, any person convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury will have their driver’s license revoked for at least 3 years by the Florida DHSMV and cannot obtain a hardship license until they complete a 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement Course.


Common Defenses to Leaving Scene of Accident

There are different defenses to the crime of leaving the scene of an accident and the facts and circumstance of each case will determine what kind of defense to raise, below are some common defenses:

Undamaged Property: there is a viable defense where there is no damage or injury to the other property or person involved in the accident.

Lack of Knowledge: this situation usually occurs where someone slightly hits a car while backing up but does not feel the impact. Under this situation, one can make the argument that they were unaware an accident occurred.

Physically Unable to Report: this defense is applicable were because of the crash or injury, you were unable to report the crash or accident; you are exempt from fulfilling the requirement to leave your name, address, registration information, and driver’s license to the owner of the property immediately.



Reckless Driving


Reckless driving is intentionally driving without caring about the safety of person or property.

Under Florida law (Florida statute 316.192), to prove the crime of reckless driving, the State must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant drove a vehicle in Florida with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property or

  2. Defendant, while driving a motor vehicle, fled from a law enforcement officer.

Fleeing a law enforcement officer means 1) the defendant was operating a motor vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida; 2) a duly authorized law enforcement officer ordered the defendant to stop or remain stopped; 3) the defendant, knowing [he] [she] had been ordered to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, either willfully refused or failed to stop the vehicle in compliance with the order or having stopped the vehicle, willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude the officer.



Penalty/ Punishment for Reckless Driving

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.192(2)(a), the punishment for the crime of reckless driving increase based upon whether you have a prior conviction for Reckless Driving or if a person was injured.



Reckless Driving- First Offense

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.192), the first conviction for reckless driving is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 90 days in jail

Up to 6 months of probation, or

A fine of not less than $25 nor more than $500



Reckless Driving with A Prior Conviction

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.192(2)(b), the second or subsequent conviction for reckless driving is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 6 months in jail,

Up to 6 months of probation, or

A minimum fine of $50 and a maximum fine of $1000.



Reckless Driving Causing Property Damage

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.192(1), reckless driving causing property damage is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 12 months in jail,

Up to 12 months of probation, or

Up to $1,000 fine.



Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 316.192(2), reckless driving causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison or

Up to 5 years of probation, or

Up to a $5,000 fine.


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