Drivers charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California often wonder about the state’s statute of limitations. Some drivers aren’t sure if the state even uses a statute of limitations for DUI charges.
This article reviews the statute of limitations in California for a DUI. You can review the differences in handling a misdemeanor or felony DUI here with the Simmrin Law Group. Call (310) 896-2723 to get legal advice about DUI charges today.
Defining the Statute of Limitations in California
The statute of limitations dictates how long the court system can wait to charge someone with a crime. Depending upon the crime, the statute of limitations may vary in length. Some crimes, like murder, have no statute of limitations.
California uses two different statutes of limitations for DUI charges. The court system must commence DUI charges for a driver within:
- One year for a misdemeanor DUI charge
- Three years for a felony DUI charge
If DUI charges are not commenced within the statute of limitations, an individual can no longer be charged in court for the offense.
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Methods to Commence DUI Charges in California
Many drivers believe that the court system can only commence a DUI case by filing charges. However, this is not always the case. In fact, the court system can begin proceedings in a DUI case by:
- Filing a complaint for a misdemeanor
- Filing an indictment for a felony
- Arraigning a driver on a complaint for a felony
- Issuing a bench warrant or arrest warrant for a driver
You should be aware that arrest warrants are subject to the statute of regulations in California, but bench warrants are not. This means that you could face charges far into the future if the court issues a bench warrant for your arrest after you are accused of a DUI.
Differences Between Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Charges
As we mentioned previously, misdemeanor and felony charges for a DUI are treated differently in California. The prosecution generally decides how your DUI charges should be prosecuted. Many DUIs are treated as a misdemeanor, but you may face felony charges if:
- You have three previous misdemeanor convictions for a DUI
- You have one previous felony conviction for a DUI
- Someone was hurt or killed in an accident caused by the DUI
Both misdemeanor and felony DUI charges should be taken seriously in California. You can get help quickly by calling (310) 896-2723 to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.
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Results of a Conviction for a DUI Charge in California
You can be prosecuted for a DUI charge in California as long as the statute of limitations has not expired for your case. DUI convictions can lead to a number of incredibly harsh penalties. Drivers convicted of a misdemeanor can be sentenced to:
- Jail time of up to six months
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Restrictions on their driving privileges
A felony conviction for a DUI could result in:
- Prison time of up to four years
- Fines of up to $5,000
- The revocation of your driver’s license
Additionally, all DUI charges in California are priorable. Each time you are convicted, the penalties you face can increase, even if you are charged with a misdemeanor.
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Dealing with DUIs and the Statute of Limitations in California
Technically, you could try to avoid a DUI conviction in California by attempting to wait out the statute of limitations. However, it is very unlikely that you would be able to avoid the court system for the number of years necessary for the statute of limitations to expire, especially for a felony charge.
You can face DUI accusations head-on by working with a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can provide you with answers to your legal questions now. Depending upon your situation, we may be able to:
- Get your charges reduced
- Get your charges dismissed
- Win your case in court
Take steps to proactively resolve DUI charges in your favor by contacting us as soon as you are arrested.
Contact a Lawyer About the Statute of Limitations for a DUI
The statute of limitations in California for a DUI varies for misdemeanor and felony charges. A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can help you review your options to handle any DUI accusation. Start getting the assistance you need today with a FREE initial case evaluation from the Simmrin Law Group.
Reaching us for help is simple. Just call (310) 896-2723 or fill out our online contact form.