A driver will be designated a "habitual traffic offender" in Colorado if they receive convictions for three serious driving offenses within seven years. Three convictions for any of the following serious traffic offenses within a 7-year period will result in the loss of your license to drive for 5 years:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
- Driving Under Revocation
- Reckless Driving
- Vehicular Assault
- Vehicular Homicide
A common way for a person to get into danger of HTO problems is to drive while they are under revocation for a DUI offense. As you can see, a conviction for Driving Under Revocation will be considered one of the three strikes toward reaching Habitual Traffic Offender status. In this way, a person can accumulate two of their three strikes in a short period of time should they try to drive and get stopped after a first DUI offense.
You can also be designated an HTO for receiving a large number of less serious traffic charges. For example, 10 or more convictions for violations that are four points or more, or 18 convictions for three points or more, within five years, will result in you being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender.
The possible penalties for Driving Under Revocation increase once a person has already been designated a Habitual Traffic Offender. A first offense could see penalties up to 18 months in the county jail. If a person is found to be driving under the influence while on HTO status, the case may be charged as a Class Six Felony, and could result in a sentence to the Colorado Department of Corrections. The judge must also fine you between $1,000 and $100,000. The judge will consider the prior offenses that led to your being placed on HTO status, and this could lead to harsh penalties.
A five-year license revocation is an extraordinary penalty that is certain to cause harm to anyone's livelihood. One of the critical ways a Denver DUI lawyer helps clients to avoid this hazardous outcome is to prevent clients from receiving the convictions that count as HTO strikes to begin with. Once a conviction for one of the offenses listed above is entered in court, there is no way to remove it. And likewise, there is no way to negotiate a different outcome with the DMV – the five-year penalty is set in stone. This is why it is critical to avoid convictions for serious driving offenses at all cost, and why you should never plead guilty without first obtaining experienced representation from an attorney that specializes in Colorado DUI defense cases.
If you have been charged with HTO, or are in danger of being designated HTO, please call our office for a free consultation regarding what can be done to protect your driving privileges. And again, never plead guilty to any serious traffic offense without obtaining advice from a qualified Colorado attorney that practices in this very specialized field. Having an experienced DUI defense attorney will help you to minimize the penalties that you face at sentencing. If you cannot avoid a conviction for an HTO offense, we will fight to keep you out of jail, and present your situation in the best possible light to the judge.
Denver lawyer Kevin Churchill handles all DUI related charges including habitual traffic offender violations. A habitual traffic offender designation carries a 5-year driver's license revocation with no possibility of getting a probationary license. This can be devastating to individuals and families who are struggling to get back on their feet after a DUI arrest. A DUI lawyer can help you to avoid this consequence through effective defense representation.