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Statute of Limitations for DUI Warrants

In this post, we discuss the statute of limitations for driving under the influence (DUI) and the statute of limitations for filing a DUI charge in California. There are situations when a driver is arrested for DUI but does not hear back from the court about their charge. This leads to confusion on whether the charge is still current.

People can also fail to appear on a DUI charge, and in effect a warrant will be issued for their arrest. So, we wanted to explain the statute of limitations in both of these cases.

What is the Time Limit for the Prosecutor to File a DUI Charge? 

For starters, a “statute of limitations” refers to a deadline or time limit. In the case of a DUI prosecution, the statute of limitations refers to the state’s deadline for filing DUI charges against a person. Once the statute of limitations is up, the state can no longer press charges.

In California, the state has one year from the date of arrest to file misdemeanor DUI charges against someone.

A felony DUI charge must be filed within three years from the date of arrest.

Does a DUI Warrant Expire If No Arrest Is Made?

As far as DUI arrest warrants – there is no statute of limitations so they last indefinitely. In other words, if the state files DUI charges against an individual and he or she fails to appear in court as required, the judge will issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The warrant, which stemmed from a DUI charge, does not expire.

Can My DUI Case Be Dismissed If Don't Hear from the Court?

Suppose you were arrested for DUI but you never heard back from the court. The hearing took place anyway and because you “failed to appear,” a warrant was issued for your arrest; however, you were never arrested and brought to court.

If you didn't hear from the court and didn't show up to the hearing, you may be eligible for a dismissal if it can be proven that law enforcement failed to properly arrest you and bring you to court.

Some of the factors that we can examine include:

  • “Could the cops have found you if they really wanted to?” We’ll want to know if the address on your driver’s license is current, and if you paid your state taxes.
  • We’ll want to know if you were receiving any type of state benefits and if law enforcement tried to contact you since the failure to appear.
  • In other words, did law enforcement drop the ball? If so, it may be possible to get your case dismissed in court.

We Can Help You Fight Your Charges

Of course, in order to handle your case, you’ll have to go back to court. Until the situation is confronted head-on, there will still be an active warrant for your arrest even if something has barred the DA from prosecuting you. In order to gain control over your situation, contact our Orange County DUI defense firm for a free case evaluation!