FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
for Writ of Prohibition -- Original Jurisdiction.
Thomas, Public Defender, Tallahasse, and Samantha Porche,
Assistant Public Defender, Quincy, for Petitioner.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Sharon S. Traxler, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Respondent.
Finney filed a petition for writ of prohibition seeking
review of the order denying his motion to dismiss the amended
information charging him with violating section 322.34(2)(c),
Florida Statutes (2015). Finney contends that he is not
subject to prosecution under that statute and that the
highest offense he can be charged with is a misdemeanor over
which the circuit court lacks jurisdiction. We agree and
grant the petition.
was originally charged with violating section 322.34(5),
 but the trial court granted
Finney's motion to dismiss that charge because he has
never had a Florida driver's license. The State
thereafter filed an amended information charging Finney under
section 322.34(2)(c) for driving while his driving privilege
was suspended or revoked. Finney again moved to dismiss,
arguing that he could not be charged under section
322.34(2)(c) because he was a "habitual traffic
offender" as defined in section 322.264.,  The trial court
denied Finney's motion, noting that the result advocated
by Finney "cannot possibly have been the intent of the
legislature and this result goes against public policy and
neglects public safety."
sought review of the order denying his motion to dismiss by
filing a petition for writ of prohibition in this court. The
petition argues that the circuit court lacks jurisdiction
because Finney is not subject to prosecution under section
322.34(2)(c) and the highest offense that he can be charged
with is driving without a valid license, a misdemeanor. We
issued an order to show cause, and in response, the State
argued that the "evil" addressed by section
322.34(2)(c) is the "exact indifference and disrespect
[Finney] flagrantly continues to participate in" and
that to preclude his prosecution under section 322.34(2)(c)
"would limit the scope of the statute unreasonably and
lead to absurd results."
Any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been
canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law,
except persons defined in s. 322.264, who, knowing
of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any
motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such
license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked,
(c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of