Statute of Limitations for a DUI in California

The DUI Statute of Limitations in California Could Prove to Be a Winning Defense

DUI cases are tough on people. They cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.

Additionally, DUI cases can land someone in jail and without a driver’s license for extended periods of time.

If you find yourself under suspicion for DUI, then you need to contact a San Diego DUI lawyer fast.

Fortunately, you can rely on my experience representing hundreds of clients facing DUI charges in San Diego and the surrounding area.

Not only do I use my extensive experience to give my clients a chance to beat their DUI cases, but I also analyze their cases from both a legal and scientific standpoint.

This approach gives my clients the best shot possible to win their case, keep their license, and stay out of jail.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for DUI in California?

The statute of limitations is a law that prevents you from facing criminal charges well after the alleged crime took place.

According to 802(a) of the California Penal Code, all criminal prosecutions for misdemeanors must commence within one year. However, the prosecution must bring felony charges within three years of the alleged crime, in most cases. 

The law refers to DUI cases as “wobblers” because they could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. 

For example, first, second, and third offense DUIs are misdemeanors. That means the prosecution must bring charges within one year. The judge would very likely dismiss a case if the alleged crime occurred more than a year prior to charges being filed. 

DUI charges can also be felony offenses. A fourth offense DUI within the last 10 years is a felony. Additionally, DUI causing death or serious bodily injury is also a felony.

Moreover, a DUI charge that includes child endangerment can be a felony if you have prior convictions for the same offense. 

Remember that California prosecutors can use any out-of-state DUI convictions against you. Thus, you could face felony charges if you have out-of-state DUI convictions even though you have only one DUI charge in California. 

When Does the Statute of Limitations in California Stop Running?

The one-year statute of limitations is not a hard and fast rule.  The clock stops running if you left California for any reason during the limitations period.

Your presence outside of California “tolls” the statute of limitations. The clock resumes when you return to the state.

Similarly, the statute of limitations tolls if the police issue a warrant for your arrest provided that the police requested the warrant during the limitations time.

Why Is There a DUI Statute of Limitations in California?

Statutes of limitations help ensure the accused receives due process. Some cases, especially complex cases such as fatal car accidents, need more time for the police to investigate.

However, the police cannot sit around and do nothing. The statute of limitations makes sure that the charges are brought as promptly as possible.

That way, the accused has a chance to find and interview witnesses, review the crime scene, and review evidence.

Without a statute of limitations forcing their hands, the police could sit on an investigation for years. Doing that would seriously hurt the accused’s chances of locating favorable evidence.

When Can You Raise the Statute of Limitations for DUI in California as a Defense?

The statute of limitations is a law that prevents you from facing criminal charges well after the alleged crime took place. However, you could raise the statute of limitations defense if you do not get notice of charges pending within one year. 

Call me, San Diego criminal defense attorney Mark Greany, today at 858-531-6387 to find out I can use my extensive knowledge of California DUI law to help you.

I will argue that your case must be dismissed because the statute of limitations ran if the facts support the argument. If not, I will thoroughly review your case to find the best defenses possible. 

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Mark Greany

Mark Greany has been practicing law since 1995 and is the founding partner of the Law Office of Mark Greany. You can learn more about Mark and his accomplishments by clicking here.

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