The Penalties for Points
Think driving is a right? Think again. In California, driving is a privilege. And if you take advantage of that privilege, it can be suspended or revoked. If you continue to drive and accumulate more points on your driving record while your privilege is suspended or revoked, you can be designated as a habitual traffic offender. This is more than just a title. Habitual traffic offenders can be subject to harsh penalties if they accumulate points on their driving record. Because the State of California can do little to keep those with a suspended or revoked license off the road, it imposes harsh penalties to those who violate the law by driving anyways. To better understand what a habitual traffic offender is and what it means, let's first take a look at the California driving point system.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a driving record of all California drivers. Driving records contain information about a driver's history of driving offenses. The DMV will assign points to certain offenses. These points remain on a driver's record for a certain period of time during which an accumulation of points can result in harsh penalties. Not all driving offenses result in points being assigned, but many will. Typically, offenses that make operating a vehicle unsafe will result in one to three negligent operator points. For example, certain mechanical (i.e. non-moving) violations, such as having no light on your license plate, do not result in the DMV assigning any points on your record. While having no light on your license plate is unlawful and makes it more difficult for law enforcement to identify your car, it does not necessarily make driving unsafe. The DMV will assign one point for certain other violations, such as moving violations like speeding because they make driving unsafe. More serious offenses such as DUIs and hit and runs result in two points being assigned. The DMV will send you a warning letter if you accumulate enough of these points and suspend or revoke your driving privileges if you rack up enough.
Habitual Traffic Offenders
It is unlawful to accumulate a driving record history (defined by getting a certain number of points within a specified period of time) while driving on a license the DMV suspended or revoked, and you will be designated a habitual traffic offender if you do so. This is a criminal offense for which you can be prosecuted. Now, you may be wondering just what the penalties are for being a habitual traffic offender. When your license is already suspended or revoked, what else could happen? The court will impose harsh penalties if you are convicted of this offense. For a first conviction, you will face a sentence of 30 days in a county jail and a fine of $1,000. A second conviction in a seven-year period will result in a jail sentence of 180 days and a fine of $2,000. You can even face such penalties if you were driving an off-highway vehicle.
As you can see, even a series of seemingly minor violations, such as speeding, can eventually lead to criminal prosecution. For this reason, it is very important to speak with a knowledgeable California criminal defense attorney with experience in driving crimes if you have received a warning letter or notice of suspension from the DMV. Being designated a habitual traffic offender is a serious offense that will result in jail time and a substantial fine. Staying informed of the consequences of your traffic violations is especially important if you are a commercial driver such as a delivery or freight driver. We all make mistakes, and speeding and other minor moving violations, when they add up, can put your driving privileges, your freedom, and even your career at serious risk. Even some non-moving violations, if they make operating a vehicle unsafe, can result in the DMV assigning points to your driving record. An attorney can help you in a few ways. First, an attorney can inform you of the penalties the court can impose on you and the actions the DMV can take against your driving privileges. An attorney can also assist you with DMV administrative hearings at which you may be able to fight to keep points off your record, thus lessening the risk of becoming a habitual traffic offender. And, if you find yourself facing charges for being a habitual traffic offender, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you face your charges with confidence.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and have a question about the negligent operator point system or are facing charges for habitual traffic offender, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California driving crime defense attorney Christopher Martens will work hard to defend your rights and help you fight your charges. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights in court. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.