Drivers arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California often expect to face charges right away. However, the prosecution does not always move to file charges immediately after an arrest. Does this mean you could be charged with a DUI months later?
In many cases, the prosecution has up to a year to file DUI charges against you. This means you could face DUI charges long after your arrest. Find out why the prosecution may wait to file charges here. You will also learn about your options for handling a delayed DUI charge.
The Statute of Limitations on DUI Charges in California
California’s statute of limitations determines how long the prosecution may wait to file DUI charges. The statute of limitations is not the same for all criminal charges. For example, the statute of limitations for most misdemeanor charges is one year.
Many DUIs are misdemeanor-level offenses. This means that the prosecution has one year to file charges for most DUIs. The one-year countdown begins at the time that your offense was “discovered.” In DUI cases, offenses are generally discovered at the time of your arrest.
You should know that some DUIs are prosecuted as felonies in California. Felony charges have a longer statute of limitations, as indicated by California Penal Code 801. The prosecution may charge you with felonies within three years of the discovery of your offense, in many cases.
Reasons Why the Prosecution May Wait to Charge a DUI
Some drivers wonder why the prosecution would not charge a DUI right away after an arrest. In many cases, the prosecution may wait in order to gather evidence. They may want to wait for the results of your blood alcohol content (BAC) testing, for example.
A breathalyzer test may provide fast results after a DUI stop. However, breathalyzer results are often disputed. You may also be asked to complete a blood or urine test after a DUI arrest. The results of these tests may take longer to come back. The prosecution sometimes waits until these results are returned to charge you.
In other situations, the prosecution may simply be dealing with a backlog. It may take a period of months for the prosecutor’s office to get to your case. Regardless of the reason for the delay, you can get help handling these charges. Reach out to a law firm by calling (310) 997-4688.
Get Legal Help Handling Delayed DUI Charges in California
You do not have to take on a delayed DUI charge on your own in California. You can reach out to a DUI lawyer to get legal help on your side. A lawyer may take immediate steps to:
- Get your charges dismissed
- Reduce your charges to an acceptable level
- Stand up for you in the courtroom
Your lawyer may work to block evidence against you. A lawyer can request access to your blood samples to run independent testing and might also focus on showing that a blood or urine test was completed improperly, leading to false positive results.
Your lawyer could help you review any plea bargains offered by the prosecution. You may agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge in exchange for less serious penalties. In some cases, your charges may get dismissed with a lawyer’s help. Your lawyer can also stand up for you in court.
Your DMV Hearing May Not Take Place Months Later
The prosecution may wait to file charges against you after a DUI arrest. The same is not true for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV has the right to suspend your license 30 days after a DUI arrest.
Fortunately, you can request a hearing to prevent this automatic suspension. You have 10 days to request a DMV hearing after your arrest. This time limit never changes. A lawyer may be able to help you handle your DMV hearing quickly, protecting your driving privileges.
Note that you may also maintain your driving privileges if you install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. This may allow you to get an IID restricted license to continue operating your vehicle freely.
Charged with a DUI Months Later? Get an Attorney Now
You may face DUI charges a significant amount of time after you are arrested. The prosecution may wait until they have their case in order to file charges against you. Fortunately, a DUI lawyer can help you handle these charges. Start working on a defense as soon as you are charged. Just contact the Simmrin Law Group for a free consultation.
You can reach us by calling (310) 997-4688 or simply fill out our online contact form.