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What is a habitual traffic offender?

Sometimes drivers make a mistake and the consequences can be severe. It can sometimes set you up to fail again and lead to further charges.

If this happens, the penalties can be overwhelming. In Colorado, you may face a habitual traffic offender (HTO) charge.

An HTO is a person who accumulates convictions for separate offenses over a seven-year period. Generally, an offender accumulates three “strikes” before facing an HTO charge. In some cases, having a clear record for nearly seven years but receiving a second conviction can result in HTO status.

How do HTO charges occur?

Some offenses that can lead to an HTO charge are:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI), DUI per se or driving while ability impaired (DWAI)
  • Reckless driving
  • Highway driving while a license has been denied, suspended or revoked
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident
  • Failure to report an accident
  • Vehicular assault or vehicular homicide

You could face an HTO charge if you make a mistake one night and are convicted of a DUI, but you get behind the wheel after having your license revoked because you have no other way to get to your job. If you have a family to feed, that choice can feel impossible.

An HTO charge can lead to a license suspension of an additional five years and a jail sentence of up to 18 months. A conviction for an HTO offense can even become a felony.

If you are facing an HTO charge, a traffic defense attorney can work to help lower suspension periods and attempt to reduce penalties. A few mistakes don’t have to ruin your life.

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