With the countless crimes committed in the United States, there must be regulations put into place for things to run smoothly. For a DUI, additional restrictions are put into place on top of the consequences that an individual will endure.
A statute of limitations is regulated and followed for all crimes within the United States, and this limitation on a DUI is standard. Those charged with any type of DUI can speak with a California lawyer about the statute of limitations on their case.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations sets rules that the court system must follow when charging someone with a crime. Various types of crimes will have different time limits that the system must look into.
However, serious crimes such as murder have no statute of limitations, which means that someone can be charged with murder no matter how many years have passed.
The statute of limitations will begin as soon as the crime is discovered in California. This is known as the discovery rule. It states that the time frame for the statute of limitations will begin as soon as the crime becomes known, even if the crime was committed prior.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a DUI?
In California, there are two different statutes of limitations that the court systems must follow when it comes to those convicted of a DUI. The courts will look at those charged with a misdemeanor and a felony. The statute of limitations for these charges vary, along with the penalties for a DUI.
Many DUIs in California are considered misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is a punishable crime by law but not as serious as a felony.
The jail time for a misdemeanor is typically less than a year, but individuals charged could face other penalties. Some of these additional penalties include:
- Up to six months of jail time with $1,000 in fines for the first offense
- Up to one year in fail and various fines if a second offense is committed
- A year of jail time, with multiple fines and penalty assessments once committed a third time
Within these penalties, a misdemeanor DUI can mean getting your license suspended, required DUI school, set probation peroid, increased insurance rates, or hours of community service.
The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor DUI is one year under California Penal Code 802(a).
If you have been convicted previously with three or more DUIs and are caught driving under the influence within ten years, you will be charged with a felony DUI. A felony is a serious conviction and could mean spending up to 10 years in jail.
Additional consequences that a felony DUI charge can bring are:
- Up to three years in jail, with two of those being in state prison and close to $5,000 in fines
- Three years in prison and fines totaling $2,500
- Four to 10 years with a suspended license
- Alcohol treatment
- Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation
For a felony DUI, the statute of limitations is three years under California Penal Code 801.7. Once the statute of limitations falls past these time frames, individuals can no longer be charged in court for their crimes.
Why Do DUIs Have a Statute of Limitations
The main purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect those charged with criminal or civil crimes with their Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. In turn, the prosecutors will work extra diligently in order to charge the proper individual for their crimes within a reasonable amount of time.
There are a few other reasons why a statute of limitations is put into place, which include:
- Witness accuracy: The longer a case is drawn out, the more likely someone is to forget things about the case. Additionally, witnesses could move or pass away, which could be detrimental to the case.
- Evidence: Sometimes, evidence could be destroyed or disappear if the case has been waiting.
- The defense becomes weaker: As time goes on, a person’s ability to defend themselves becomes increasingly stronger.
Benefits of Hiring a California DUI Lawyer
Speaking with a skilled lawyer will benefit your case for those convicted of a DUI. Depending on the case, an attorney is able to help you beat your DUI by:
- Getting your charges reduces
- In rare cases, getting your charges dismissed
- When in court, win your case
Speak With a California DUI Lawyer About the Statute of Limitations
You will always face penalties when you are convicted of a DUI felony or misdemeanor. These penalties will depend on the crime committed and the legal team you choose for your defense.
This is why reaching out to our Los Angeles DUI lawyers will be one of the best things you could do for your case. Contact us today if you are ready to see representation or are interested in a free consultation.