As you probably know, lawmakers in every state set statutes of limitations for many types of criminal offenses. A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time that may pass before the state may no longer charge someone with a crime.
In most cases, if a crime was allegedly committed years ago, a prosecutor will not be allowed to file criminal charges because the memories of the witnesses fade and the physical evidence deteriorates over time, placing a criminal defendant at a severely unfair disadvantage. But, can an Orange County DUI law firm help?
What is the statute of limitations for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in California? Could the statute of limitations impact your own DUI case? And how can you defend yourself if the state of California prosecutes you for driving under the influence?
AFTER A DUI ARREST, WHY WOULD YOU NOT BE CHARGED IMMEDIATELY?
Drivers who are arrested for DUI are usually released from jail and given a notice to appear in court on a certain date. Sometimes, no charge has been filed by a prosecutor when this court date arrives.
If you are arrested for DUI, the police will complete a report about the incident and send it to the local District Attorney. Most people who are arrested for DUI are charged right away, but sometimes prosecutors get backed up, and these backups may delay the filing of charges.
In other cases, the police may themselves be backlogged and facing delays in submitting their cases to prosecutors for consideration.
WHAT ARE THE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS FOR CALIFORNIA DUI CASES?
If there are no aggravating circumstances, most first, second, and third DUI offenses in California are charged as misdemeanors. The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor DUI offense in California gives prosecutors one year from the date of the arrest to file charges.
A fourth driving under the influence offense within a ten-year period will be charged as a felony. Driving under the influence will also be charged as a felony if a driver causes injuries or if the driver has been previously convicted of a felony DUI.
The statute of limitations for a felony driving under the influence charge is three years.
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is considered a “wobbler” offense in California, which means that vehicular manslaughter may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony depending on the driver’s criminal record and the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.
WHAT DOES IT (PROBABLY) MEAN IF NO CHARGE HAS BEEN FILED?
If you were arrested for driving under the influence, and if no charge has been filed, a prosecutor is probably preparing to file the charge against you before the statute of limitations expires in your case.
Anyone who may be facing a DUI charge should understand that a statute of limitations only requires a charge to be filed by a particular deadline. An actual DUI trial may begin past the statute of limitations date provided the charge has been filed prior to the deadline.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in southern California, and if the local District Attorney has not yet filed criminal charges against you, do not assume anything. In fact, you should get in touch – at once – with an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.
HOW WILL A TOP-RATED DUI ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
Your attorney can determine the status of your case, and if you are charged with driving under the influence, a good DUI attorney will negotiate to have the charge dropped, or if that is not possible, to have the charge reduced.
If the police violated your constitutional rights at any point during a traffic stop, interrogation, search, or arrest, your attorney may file a motion with the court to have the charge against you dismissed.
Of course, if the driving under the influence charge against you cannot be dropped or dismissed, and if you believe that you are innocent, you should insist on a jury trial. That is your right.
However, if the state’s case against you is persuasive, and if a guilty verdict is the likely outcome of a trial, your attorney may instead recommend negotiating a plea bargain and pleading guilty to a lesser charge such as a “wet reckless” charge.
If your DUI case does go to trial, your attorney may defend you by challenging the breath or blood test results or by challenging the testimony of the arresting officer or officers.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES IN CALIFORNIA FOR A DUI CONVICTION?
Anyone who is charged with driving under the influence in California must have a good DUI attorney’s help, because a conviction – even for a first misdemeanor DUI offense with no aggravating circumstances – can trigger some harsh penalties.
A conviction for a first misdemeanor DUI offense with no aggravating circumstances can be penalized with any – or any combination – of the following:
- up to five years on probation and/or up to six months in jail
- a fine ranging from $390 to $1000 (and other court costs)
- court-ordered alcohol treatment or education classes
- a suspension of your driver’s license (usually for four months)
Beginning in 2019, most convicted DUI offenders in California will also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their personal vehicles – and at their own expense.
HOW QUICKLY SHOULD YOU SPEAK WITH A DUI LAW FIRM IN CALIFORNIA?
Some convicted DUI offenders may qualify for a restricted driver’s license – and avoid a full driver’s license suspension – by having an ignition interlock device installed and presenting proof of that installation to the court.
Because intoxicated drivers are a threat to public safety, California’s police departments, lawmakers, prosecutors, and judges take driving under the influence quite seriously. So should you.
If you are facing a DUI charge anywhere in southern California, you must have the advice, knowledge, and aggressive defense representation that an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can provide – and you must have that help at once. Do not wait to make the call.
For anyone who is accused of DUI, a good attorney’s help is your right. When your freedom and your future are at stake, it is imperative to take advantage of that right and to obtain quickly the legal help that you are very much going to need.