Juvenile Criminal Traffic Offenses: Information from Clearwater, Tampa, & St Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Holloway, P.A.

When a juvenile is arrested for a criminal traffic offense, it can be an upsetting situation for the entire family. Whether you are a parent in Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Tampa, St Petersburg, or Safety Harbor, it’s never easy to find out that your child may have made a mistake behind the wheel.

If your child is charged with a juvenile criminal traffic offense in the Tampa Bay area, you should seek representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney who is sensitive to your family’s needs. Often your attorney can be the voice of reason, providing you with the comfort of knowing what may happen in the future and the various courses of action available to you. From his office in Clearwater, criminal defense attorney Charles Holloway, P.A. has more than 30 years of experience representing juveniles in the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida. You are welcome to contact attorney Holloway for a free consultation about your case.

Juveniles charged with criminal traffic and auto-related offenses may be treated differently than adults, in some instances. Some examples of criminal traffic offenses include DUI, Reckless Driving, Driving While License Suspended, Leaving the Scene of an Accident With/Without Injuries, and Fleeing & Eluding. Examples of auto-related offenses include Carjacking and Grand Theft Auto. This section is intended to address some of the differences and similarities in the way in which juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system.

Chapter 26 of the Florida Statutes provides that the Circuit Court has jurisdiction over juvenile criminal offenses, except for certain traffic offenses as provided in Chapters 316 and 985.

Chapter 316 provides that the County Traffic Court has jurisdiction over juvenile traffic offenses, with the exception of felony traffic offenses, which are subject to the Circuit Court. Examples of felony offenses include Felony DUI, DUI Manslaughter, Felony Driving While License Suspended, Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Injuries, and Aggravated Fleeing & Eluding.

If a juvenile is arrested for a criminal traffic offense, the law requires the following procedures be followed, as appropriate:

  1. Contact and provide notice to the parents
  2. Release the juvenile to the parents
  3. Issue a Notice to Appear at the next court hearing date
  4. Deliver the juvenile to treatment, if warranted by the evidence of alcohol or substance abuse
  5. Deliver the juvenile to the Dept. of Juvenile Justice detention facility, if warranted by the nature of the offense

Note that the general treatment of juveniles in Traffic Court is very similar to that of adults. In other words, a juvenile convicted of DUI can expect to face penalties that are virtually the same as those imposed on adults.

Chapter 316 also controls some other vehicle-related matters such as the use of motorcycles or mopeds. For example, a juvenile under 16 may not ride a motorcycle or moped of more than 150 cubic centimeters.

Chapter 322 controls the issuing, restriction, suspension, and reinstatement of driver’s licenses. For example, if a juvenile under 18 years of age is found guilty of possessing drugs or alcoholic beverages, the Court may either withhold the issuing of a license or revoke an existing license. The length of withhold or revocation ranges from 6 months to 12 months for a first offense, and up to 2 years for a second (or more) offense.

If an individual under 21 years of age has a breath reading of .02% or higher, their license may be suspended for 6 months for a first offense, and for 1 year for a second offense. If the individual refuses the breath test, their license may be suspended for 1 year for the first time they refuse, and for 18 months for any subsequent refusal. If the breath reading is .05% or higher, they will be required to undergo a substance abuse counseling program. A juvenile may request a Formal Review Hearing to challenge any suspension by the DMV.

Chapter 812 provides that the Court may withhold or suspend the license of a juvenile who is convicted of theft. The length of withhold or suspension may range from up to 6 months for a first offense, to 1 year for a second offense. The statute provides for a mandatory suspension for second or more convictions. The withholding of an unrestricted license is subject to the same conditions.

Chapter 985 addresses the discretionary and mandatory filing of certain criminal charges against juveniles. For example, if a juvenile of 14 to 15 years of age is accused of Manslaughter, Carjacking, or Grand Theft Auto, the prosecutor has the option of filing charges in the adult Circuit Court. Mandatory filing is required for 16 to 17 year olds who have been previously convicted for felony violent crimes. Regardless of age, if the crime involves Grand Theft Auto or Carjacking, and serious injury or death results to the victim, the driver and all willing passengers are subject to adult sanctions.

Criminal defense attorney Charles Holloway, P.A. welcomes you to contact our law firm for a free consultation about any juvenile criminal traffic offense case. Attorney Holloway can meet with you at our office in Clearwater, making our law firm convenient for families throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Please call us today to receive the experience and compassion you deserve in your case.

Phone: (727) 446-8303
E-Mail: Info@PinellasDefense.com