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Habitual Traffic Offender

VC 14601.3(e)(1)

Information on the crime of habitual traffic offender is found at California vehicle code section 14601.3(e)(1). Basically, a habitual traffic offender is someone who continues to rack up traffic infractions without rectifying the improper driving conduct that contributes to the traffic violations. The most common habitual traffic offender violations stem from a person continuing to drive after his or her driving privilege has been suspended.

The Laws

14601.3.(a) It is unlawful for a person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked to accumulate a driving record history which results from driving during the period of suspension or revocation (Abbrev.).

A driving record history means any of the following, if the driving occurred during any period of suspension or revocation:

  • Two or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of two

  • Three or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of on

  • Three or more accidents within a 12-month period

  • Any combination of convictions or accidents which results during any 12-month period in a violation point count of three or more (Abbrev.).

Note: Knowledge of suspension or revocation of the driving privilege is presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department of motor vehicle (DMV) to the defendant.

Essentially, the district attorney gets notice from the DMV after the driver qualifies as a habitual traffic offender (VC 14601.3(c)).


The crime of habitual traffic offender is classified as a misdemeanor. Anyone convicted of being a habitual traffic offender is punished as follows:

First Offense: 30 days in the county jail and a fine of $1,000.

Second Offense: (within seven years of a prior VC 14601.3 conviction) 180 days in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of monitoring by the court (instead of jail). A probation sentence may be available in some VC 14601.3 cases depending on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case. In any event, if the defendant is granted probation after a conviction for a habitual traffic offender, he or she will likely be ordered to serve some form of manual labor, such as work release, as a condition of probation.

Good Behavior Credits: If the defendant is ordered to serve any incarceration or work release after a conviction for VC 14601.3(e)(1), he or she may have that sentence reduced by up to fifty percent for good behavior (also known as half time credit).

Bail: Bail is an amount of money  paid to the court, usually through a bail bondsman, that is intended to serve as a surety that the defendant will appear as ordered to court. The scheduled bail amount related to VC 14601.3 charge is $5,000 in San Bernardino County (2020). This amount may be reduced  In some cases where the defendant is not considered to be a danger to society upon release form jail or where the risk of the defendant's appearance in court is low (other factors may apply). 

Note: The crime of habitual traffic offender is not a crime that involves moral turpitude.


Common defenses to charges of habitual traffic offender include: statue of limitations (1 year), jury nullification, lack of jurisdiction to prosecute (last address listed in the DMV or where the last traffic offense took place is the proper jurisdiction), and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with the habitual traffic offender, or VC 14601.3(e)(1), contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers will patiently review your defense options and our office is open every day of the week to assist you. Call today!



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