Los Angeles DUI Statute of Limitations
Drivers who are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence will often be released from the jail the following day and provided a notice to appear in court on a certain date. For some drivers, no case will be filed by the prosecution by this court date. This leads many drivers to inquire about what statute of limitations applies to DUI offenses and how long does the prosecution have to file charges.
The statute of limitations is an important legal bar that prevents prosecutors from filing cases that are too old. Courts have recognized that defendants are often disadvantaged when they are forced to defend themselves against charges that may have occurred years ago and the California legislature has provided strict guidelines regarding the statute of limitations for various criminal offenses.
The majority of DUI offenses are misdemeanor level offenses and therefore subject to a one-year statute of limitations. This means that the prosecution has a year from the date of the DUI incident to file charges against the defendant in court.
In many cases, the prosecution will not file charges by the “due date” that is listed on a driver’s notice to appear. There may be a number of factors that contribute to a delayed filing. The case may involve a blood sample that was sent out for testing and the results may not be available. In addition, many law enforcement agencies, notably the California Highway Patrol, are backlogged and there are delays in submitting cases for filing consideration with the relevant prosecutorial agency.
In cases where the prosecution does not file charges by the due date on the citation, a letter will be sent to the defendant notifying him or her of a new court date. Alternatively, the prosecution may elect to file the case as an arrest warrant and the defendant could be arrested by law enforcement without ever knowing that a case was filed. Many drivers assume that they will not be charged if no charges have been filed by the initial due date. This is not the case and these drivers should be aware that charges can be filed at any point during the year. Having an attorney who can closely monitor the case is absolutely imperative.
If the prosecution files a case beyond the one-year statute of limitations, the defendant can file a demurrer at the arraignment and request that the case be dismissed.
For defendants who have been charged with a felony DUI offense, the statute of limitations is three years. This means that the prosecution has three years in which to file DUI charges against the defendant. This is also true of DUI-related felonies such as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated pursuant to California Penal Code Section 191.5 (b) PC and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC.
In many cases, a person will believe that the statute of limitations has run on an old DUI case when in reality he or she never appeared on the case and there has been an active warrant for their arrest. Defendants in this situation would not be able to raise a statute of limitations argument; however prosecution of the DUI may still be barred as a violation of the defendant’s speedy trial rights. Defendants in this situation may consider filing a Serna motion.
If you have been arrested for DUI and want more information about the statute of limitations, it is critical that you meet with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Attorney Michael Kraut is highly adept at litigating statute of limitations issues as well as helping clients remove and resolve old warrants.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI statute of limitations, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.