Not long ago, you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County. You were arrested in the early morning hours of a Saturday,
so you spent the night in jail and were released the following day. Before
you were released, you were handed a notice with a court date.
You were good, you were sure to show up to court at your scheduled date
and time, but when you got there you were told that the local prosecutor
had yet to file DUI charges. Now, months have passed and still no word
from the court.
Should you celebrate? Does this mean that you just dodged a bullet, or
is the district attorney in his office somewhere, busily mounting a case
against you? You get nervous every time you get your mail, and are now
wondering how long this will be hanging over your head.
The question is, what is the statute of limitations for a DUI in California?
Your DUI Charges Are Probably Pending
No word from the court since your first appearance? The truth of the matter
is that DUI charges will probably be filed any day now. In California,
the district attorney has one year from the date of the offense to file
charges on a misdemeanor DUI. You can read more about this under
Section 802(a) of the California Penal Code.
As long as the prosecutor files the DUI charge within one year of the offense,
the DA has not missed the statute of limitations. If a DUI warrant is
issued, for example, because you fail to appear for a DUI court hearing,
the statute of limitations does not apply. DUI warrants are good indefinitely
and do not expire.
Usually, the local prosecutors are good about filing DUI charges before
a DUI defendant’s first court date, but once in a while, something
causes a delay in the filing. For example, the DA is waiting for the results
of the blood test, or the prosecutor has a heavy caseload and hasn’t
gotten around to it, or the driver’s BAC was just below the legal limit.
If you went to court and learned that no charges had been filed
yet, the court staff should have told you that you will receive a notice in
the mail once the charges are filed. Don’t make the mistake of waiting
and hoping the prosecutor will forget, because that’s highly unlikely.
Instead of waiting it out, it’s much better to be proactive and hire
a DUI defense attorney who can try to prevent formal charges from being
filed in the first place.
Waiting on the prosecutor to file charges?
Contact us to work with one of Orange County’s
top DUI defense firms. Schedule your
free consultation today!