California Vehicle Code § 14601.3 VC: Habitual Traffic Offender
1. Definition and Elements of the Offense
When a driver already has his or her driving privileges suspended or revoked, continuing to drive and accumulate points on his or her driving record will result in that driver being designated a habitual traffic offender in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 14601.3 VC. Once this designation is in place, any and all subsequent driving offenses are subject to significant penalties, including lengthy jail sentences.
In order to prove that a defendant has driven a vehicle despite being designated a habitual traffic offender, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant drove a motor vehicle.
- The defendant’s driving privilege had been previously suspended or revoked.
- The defendant had knowledge that his or her driving privilege had been suspended or revoked
- AND during the period of suspension or revocation, the defendant suffered:
- Two or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of two pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 12810 VC.
- Three or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of one pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 12810 VC.
- Three or more accidents within a 12-month period that are subject to the reporting requirements of California Vehicle Code Section 16000.d VC. Any combination of convictions or accidents which results during any 12-month period in a violation point count of three or more pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 12810.
2. Related Offenses
Similar offenses include the following:
- Driving without a License - California Vehicle Code Section 12500 VC
- Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License - California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC
- Driving with Suspended License for DUI Conviction – California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 VC
A man is convicted of his third DUI offense within 10 years and is designated a habitual traffic offender as part of his sentence. The judge informs him of this designation at the time of sentencing and he additionally receives notice in the mail from the DMV regarding this status. The man continues to drive and is pulled over a few weeks later. This man could be prosecuted under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.3 VC as a habitual traffic offender.
In another example, a man has a suspended license but manages to rack up two more tickets in a 12 month period while on this suspension. Each violation adds two points to his driving record. The DMV designates the man a habitual traffic offender but fails to ever send out a notice to his address. The man could not be prosecuted as a habitual traffic offender under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.3 VC as he did not receive proper notice. He could still be prosecuted under other sections of California Vehicle Code Section 14601 due to his driving conduct.
4. Defenses to Habitual Traffic Offender
As discussed above, if the defendant was never notified that he or she was designated a habitual traffic offender, he or she could not be prosecuted under this particular section.
If the defendant has been designated a habitual traffic offender, a first time driving violation would result in a mandatory sentence of 30 days in jail in addition to a $1,000 fine. This jail time would be consecutive to any other sentence imposed for the driving conduct. For a second or subsequent violation of the habitual traffic offender law, the defendant would be sentenced to a mandatory 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Again, the 180 days would be consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
6. Criminal Defense for Habitual Traffic Offender Cases
If you or a loved one have been designated as a habitual traffic offender and are facing a new driving offense, it is imperative that you contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut understands the mandatory jail time involved and works hard to ensure his clients receive the absolute best representation possible.
For more information about habitual traffic offender, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.