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Habitual Offenders

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Habitual Offenders

The following information is provided as a summary of the habitual offender laws of Virginia. This summary may not include all aspects of the law and is not intended to be construed as legal advice.

WHAT IS A HABITUAL OFFENDER?
    Under Sec. 46.2-351 of the Code of Virginia, a habitual offender is defined as any person whose Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles record includes any of the following within a 10 year period:

    1. Three or more convictions, or findings of not innocent in the case of a juvenile, singularly or in combination, of the following separate offenses arising out of separate acts and prohibited by federal, state or local laws:
    • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter or aggravated involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
    • Driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or drugs or maiming resulting from driving under the influence of intoxicants or drugs;
    • Driving a motor vehicle while the license, permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked;
    • Knowingly making any false affidavit or swearing or affirming falsely to any matter or thing required by the motor vehicle laws or as to information required in the administration of such laws;
    • Any offense punishable as a felony under the motor vehicle laws of Virginia or any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
    • Failure of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the death or injury of any person to stop close to the scene of the accident and report his identity;
    • Failure of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to an attended or unattended vehicle or other property in excess of $1,000 to stop close to the scene of the accident and report his identity or otherwise report such accident

    2. Twelve or more convictions, or findings of not innocent in the case of a juvenile, of separate offenses, singularly or in combination, in the operation of a motor vehicle which are required to be reported to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the commission of which requires the DMV or authorizes a court to suspend or revoke the privilege to drive for a period of 30 days or more

    Where more than one offense included above is committed within a six-hour period, multiple offenses shall, on the first such occasion, be treated as one offense provided the person charged has no record of prior offenses as listed above.

HOW CAN I APPEAL A DETERMINATION OF HABITIAL OFFENDER STATUS?
    If the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles determines you to be a habitual offender and you believe that you do not fit the definition above, or if the determination was based solely on failure to pay fines or costs and you have now paid all such fines or costs, you may petition the circuit court in the city or county in which you reside to restore your privilege to drive. If you are not a resident of Virginia, you may petition the circuit court of the city of Richmond, Virginia.

    The Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court will provide you with forms provided by the Supreme Court of Virginia for your information.

HOW CAN MY DRIVING PRIVILEGES BE RESTORED IF I AM A HABITUAL OFFENDER?
    You may petition the court in which you were determined to be a habitual offender or the circuit court in the city or county in which you reside to restore your privilege to drive if:
    • You were determined to be a habitual offender on the basis of one or more convictions for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; at least five years have passed; and you are no longer addicted to or psychologically dependent on the use of alcohol or other drugs (if at least three years have passed, the court may issue a license that allows you to drive to and from work only); or
    • You were determined to be a habitual offender partly on the basis of one or more convictions for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver's license due to failure to pay costs, fines or judgments; at least three years have passed; and those amounts are now paid; or
    • You were determined to be a habitual offender solely on the basis of one or more convictions for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver's license due to failure to pay costs, fines or judgments, and those amounts are now paid; or
    • You were determined to be a habitual offender on the basis of a finding of "not innocent" as a juvenile, and you are now at least 18 years of age; or
    • You were determined to be a habitual offender for any other reason by a court or by the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and at least five years have passed.

    Regardless of the basis for your petition, you must also indicate to the court that you do not constitute a threat to the safety and welfare of yourself or others with respect to the operation of a motor vehicle.

    The Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court will provide you with forms provided by the Supreme Court of Virginia for your information.