Tennessee’s Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Law (HMVO) is designed to keep individuals who repeatedly break serious traffic laws off the roads. HMVO proceedings are civil and not criminal, but are conducted in courts of criminal jurisdiction and begin with a petition filed by the local prosecutor.

By being a civil proceeding, it is not a crime to be declared HMVO, and there is no jail time or probation associated with it. However it does mean that you cannot drive, and if you do and are caught you will face a felony charge. Driving while an habitual offender is a Class E felony punishable from 1-6 years.

In order to be declared HMVO in Tennessee, a driver must have a certain number of traffic-related criminal convictions within a certain period of time (usually 3-5 convictions within a 3-10 year period). The types of convictions include voluntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, vehicular homicide or assault, DUI, reckless driving, drag racing, evading arrest in a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment by use of a vehicle, and driving on a cancelled, suspended or revoked license when the basis for the cancellation or revocation was one of the previously listed offenses.

If you’ve been served with a petition to be declared an habitual offender, talk to a Memphis DUI lawyer right away. You have the right to have an attorney at these proceedings. Many times these cases are based on old convictions from other jurisdictions, and sometimes the state simply has the wrong records. Your lawyer can review these records to see if a mistake has been made. A majority of HMVO cases are for DUI offenders. Unlike a DUI conviction, where in most cases a restricted driver’s license is available, with HMVO you cannot drive at all, and no restricted license is available.

Petitions to Remove Your HMVO Status

If you’ve been declared an habitual offender, you may be looking to have your driving privileges restored. You can file a petition for restoration three years after you’ve been declared an habitual motor vehicle offender. You can petition at the court which first declared you habitual, or any court of record having criminal jurisdiction in the county where you live.

Tennessee’s habitual motor vehicle offender laws are serious. They take away the privilege to drive, which can seriously hamper your ability to work or get around. Additionally they can subject you to significant felony jail time if you violate. If you have been served with a petition and want to challenge it, or you would like to have your offender status removed, contact Memphis habitual motor vehicle offender attorney Patrick Stegall.