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Statute of Limitations: What It Means For DUI

Los Angeles DUI Attorney Jon ArtzThe California DUI process can be cumbersome and confusing at best. Following an arrest, it’s not uncommon for the accused to feel overwhelmed—especially when court appearances do not align with the dates on the citation. Learn more about California’s statute of limitations and what to expect after getting arrested for DUI.

Steps of the DUI Process

After arrest, the court proceedings will begin with arraignment and will not end until sentencing—either acquittal or the completion of conviction penalties.  During arraignment, the DUI prosecutor will propose a guilty sentence on which both parties must agree. It is during this time the offender can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Pre-trial processes will follow in the event of a “not guilty” plea; however, they may not actually occur for several weeks or months. During this process, an experienced DUI attorney will review evidence submitted by the prosecutor and negotiate sentencing on your behalf.

The DUI trial is the final step of the process assuming you’ve made it that far without pleading guilty. The majority of California DUI cases do not involve a jury though it may be advantageous or necessary depending on the circumstances of the case.

Statute of Limitations

A full understanding of the process entails an understanding of California Penal Code section 802 which reads, “Except as provided in subdivision (b), (c), or (d), prosecution for an offense not punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison shall be commenced within one year after commission of the offense.” Subsections (b), (c), and (d) are not applicable to DUI cases.”

This means the prosecutor has 12 months to file charges with the court for a misdemeanor from the date on the citation. This is troublesome for two reasons:

  1. DUI offenders often misunderstand the statute of limitations as a free pass thinking their case was forgotten or dismissed.
  2. The statute of limitations complicates an already arduous process that can result in missed court appearances and additional fines. This is why it’s advisable to obtain legal assistance from an experienced DUI attorney.

This common occurrence is easy to understand when you know the steps involved in creating an arraignment date. After an arrest, the officer must prepare a detailed police report to include witness statements, examination of evidence, and all relevant facts. Once the prosecutor takes possession of the report, they must review the file and determine whether or not to file charges. In California, the prosecutor will most likely be a city or district attorney. Once charges are filed, the individual is then notified of their court date which, in many cases, is well past the date they expected per their citation.

The most important thing to understand is the statute of limitations dictates the entire process. In other words, your arrest date has no bearing on your obligation to appear in court so long as the arraignment is scheduled within one year. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the statute of limitations applies to you if you fail to appear in court. Once filed against you, charges do not disappear from your record. They will increase if ignored and result in an active warrant for arrest, and once found, money spent on a bail bond. To get a better understanding of the court proceedings and ensure your compliance with the law, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately after arrest.

Contact Jon Artz today at 310-820-1315.

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