What Is a Habitual Violator under the Georgia Motor Vehicle Code?

Police car with blue lights on the crime scene concept of Georgia habitual violator.

The Georgia Motor Vehicle Code includes provisions relating to classification of a driver as a habitual violator, which results in an immediate five-year driver’s license suspension. Violation of a habitual violator suspension can carry extremely serious consequences. In light of these laws, it’s essential to get help from an experienced Georgia traffic offense lawyer to defend against any charges that may contribute to a declaration of habitual violator status.

Georgia Habitual Violator Laws

Section 40-5-58 of the Georgia Motor Vehicle Code contains the complex habitual violator provisions. “Habitual violator” is not an offense. It is a declaration of status of a driver who meets specific criteria established in the statute. When a driver meets the requirements, habitual violator status results in an immediate five-year driver’s license suspension.

Under subsection (a) of the law, a habitual violator is a “person who has been arrested and convicted within the United States three or more times within a five-year period of time” of specific federal, state, and local offenses enumerated in the statute. The three convictions may arise from a single event, or they may relate to different events that occur at different times during the five-year period. Generally, qualifying offenses are serious crimes, which include:

  • 1st and 2nd degree vehicular homicide
  • DUI and DUI child endangerment
  • Serious injury by vehicle
  • Driving with a revoked, canceled, or suspended vehicle registration
  • Any felony involving use of a motor vehicle
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)
  • Racing on highways or streets
  • Using a motor vehicle to flee to attempt to elude a law enforcement officer
  • 1st degree feticide (death of an unborn child) by vehicle

Probationary Limited Permit

After serving the first two years of a five-year habitual violator suspension, a driver may qualify to get a three-year limited driving permit, if certain conditions are met. The permit is a probationary limited permit that may have restrictions on the places, routes, and times of travel, as well as on the specific vehicle that the permit holder may operate. To get a probationary limited permit, a driver must demonstrate specific criteria, including:

  • Extreme hardship from denial of the probationary permit, such as being unable to go to work, attend school, or receive medical care
  • Completion of a defensive driving or alcohol/drug program
  • No convictions of certain types of offenses for two years preceding the application
  • Proof of insurance or financial responsibility
  • A sworn affidavit relating to use of illegal substances and alcohol

Some drivers do not have the option of getting a probationary permit, including a driver convicted of DUI that caused the death of another individual.

Violation of a Habitual Violator Suspension

Violations of a habitual violator suspension or a probationary permit and additional convictions of habitual violator offenses carry severe potential penalties.

For example, driving while under a habitual violator suspension is a felony that carries penalties of a minimum fine of $750, one to five years in prison, or both. In addition, a conviction for another habitual violator offense after the initial suspension carries a further prison sentence of up to five years, and a further fine of up to $1,200 and $5,000, which are in addition to the penalties for conviction of the new crime.

Violation of the terms of probationary limited permit is a misdemeanor with potential penalties that include a fine, up to 12 months in jail, and revocation of the probationary permit. Conviction of any minor traffic offense while having a probationary permit is also a misdemeanor. If a probationary permit is revoked, the person is ineligible to apply for another permit for a period of five years.

The habitual violator statute is extremely complex. Potential penalties and consequences of a violation or another conviction while under suspension, with or without a probationary permit, depend on the specific facts of the case. Assistance from a knowledgeable Georgia traffic offense attorney is always crucial in any case involving the habitual violator laws.

Importance of Legal Representation

Habitual violator status is an extremely serious matter in Georgia. If you face any charges that could contribute to habitual violator status, such as DUI, or if you face complications from being in habitual violator status, representation by an accomplished traffic and criminal defense lawyer is absolutely essential. Your attorney can analyze the circumstances and advise you of the options for proceeding and defending against the case. Because of the severity of the consequences of habitual violator status and of violations during a habitual violator suspension, you need to make sure you are fully informed of the potential consequences before you make decisions about how to proceed.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our criminal and DUI defense lawyers at The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, have decades of experience representing defendants facing all types of misdemeanor and felony criminal charges throughout northwest Georgia, including DUI and other traffic offenses. If you are under investigation or are facing any criminal charge, including habitual violator issues, please call (770) 382-0984 or contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, so we can begin working on your case right away.

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Categories: Criminal Defense