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DUI and the Statute of Limitations

  • May 25, 2017

    Prosecutors are often required to file criminal charges within a specified length of time, which is known as the statute of limitations. If the prosecuting attorney does not bring forth charges during this specified length of time, then the charges are no longer eligible. If you are facing a driving under the influence charge, you could be wondering about the statute of limitations yourself. However, you should know that this can be a rather complicated issue.

    What is the Purpose of a Statute of Limitations?

    The statute of limitations is actually designed to protect defendants in both criminal and civil cases. Prosecutors and plaintiffs are required to use a certain level of due diligence to move forward with cases within a reasonable length of time. After all, defendants can be disadvantaged if they find themselves in a situation in which they need to defend themselves a long time after something happens. After all, details can become fuzzy, and witnesses may no longer be around.

    The California Penal Code lists different statutes of limitations for different types of cases. If cases are brought forth after the associated statute of limitations, charges may be dropped immediately. However, there are a lot of different exceptions, so it’s important to hire a Los Angeles DUI attorney or other lawyer to help you with this type of case.

    What is the Statute of Limitations for a DUI?

    Since most first, second and third-time DUI offenses are considered misdemeanors and since you generally only face a maximum of six months in jail for these cases, the statute of limitations for a DUI is in line with other misdemeanor cases. According to the California Penal Code, the statute of limitations for this type of case is one year, beginning on the date of the incident. If the prosecution waits for longer than a year to charge you with a DUI, then they will not be able to bring charges against you at all for the incident.

    However, since a fourth-time DUI is considered to be a felony offense, the statue of limitations is different. A fourth-time DUI carries a potential sentence of up to three years in prison. The statute of limitations for one of these cases is also three years. The same is also true for a “DUI causing injury” case, which could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Since it could potentially be charged as a felony, the statute of limitations is the same as for a felony DUI: three years.

    Are There Cases in Which the Statute of Limitations for a DUI Does Not Count?

    One situation in which the statute of limitations does not count is for old cases that have been in warrant status, as long as the charge was brought forth within the length of time stated in the statute of limitations. Even though your Los Angeles DUI lawyer would not be able to use the statute of limitations argument in your defense in this type of situation, there are certain motions and other steps that can be taken to defend you. Regardless of if your case is affected by the statute of limitations or not, it is always a better idea to have legal representation while dealing with this type of situation.

    If you are wondering about the statute of limitations and how it might affect your DUI case, or if you are otherwise facing a driving under the influence charge and are looking for a Los Angeles DUI attorney who can assist you, contact us so that we can schedule an appointment to talk to you about your case.

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