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The Statute of Limitations in DUI Cases


You might have heard the term “statute of limitations” before. Maybe you run into it while watching a courtroom drama. Perhaps you know about the term if you’re around lawyers at work or have one in your family.



You should know about this term and what it means. If the police pull you over and determine you’ve consumed alcohol and you’re over the legal limit, you’ll definitely want to know all about the statute of limitations that goes along with that.


We’ll talk about that in detail right now.


What is a Statute of Limitations?


A statute of limitations means the time limit the authorities have before charging you with a crime. The police, district attorneys, and other authorities might detain you because they suspect you’ve committed a crime, but they might not choose to charge you with that crime right then. Often, they may feel like they need more time to build a case.


Sometimes, you can get out on bail, and eventually, you’ll need to show up in court again if the authorities decide to make you stand trial. Alternatively, they may choose to drop the charges. If that happens, they probably either decided it wasn’t worth it to charge you, or they determined they didn’t have enough evidence to make the charges stick.


Now, let’s talk about the state of limitations with DUI cases.


What’s the Statute of Limitations for Felony DUI?


Authorities must charge you within six years for felony DUIs in many states. A DUI that the police or the court system considers a felony might not have precisely the same definition in one state that it does in another.


In some states, if the authorities charge you with a first-time DUI, they won’t consider that a felony. If they charge you again within ten years with the same crime, though, they automatically consider that a felony offense. You repeating the crime makes the second offense a more serious case.


The police and the court system won’t generally throw the book at you if they find you guilty in a single DUI case. A judge might make you pay a fine, attend alcohol counseling, or perhaps take your license away for a few months if you don’t seem remorseful.


If you commit the same crime again, that indicates you didn’t learn your lesson the first time. Maybe you have a serious alcohol problem, or perhaps you don’t respect the court. That’s why a second-time DUI normally has the term “felony” attached to it, and you’ll have to deal with more serious consequences if you face one.


Are There Exceptions to the Felony DUI Rules?


Let’s say you face a felony DUI for a second-time offense. Maybe you feel like you’re safe from prosecution if six years pass, assuming you’re in a state that has a six-year limitations statute for felony DUIs.


In certain instances, the authorities can charge you with a felony DUI past that six-year limit or whatever other time length the state has in place for this offense. Maybe you have other charges pending besides the possible felony DUI. The prosecution might take some more time to build a case against you, and they might haul you into court to stand trial after more than six years pass.


What Should You Do if You Face a Felony DUI Trial?


Generally, the more time passes following the police detaining you for a possible DUI, the better you should feel. You might get away with the offense without ever standing trial if multiple years pass and you never hear anything else about the arrest.


However, if you have a possible felony DUI hanging over your head, you might feel nervous until you know you’ve resolved it. Even if a judge elects not to charge you following a felony DUI arrest, they might order you to attend alcohol counseling, do some community service, or something along those lines.


You should absolutely do what the judge tells you if you want to avoid a felony DUI charge. If the police pull you over again for drunk driving, the authorities will probably prioritize your case this time and not let you off the hook.


If you have a felony DUI hanging over you and want to resolve it, you may consider contacting an experienced lawyer who knows all about these situations. You can talk to them about what happened, and they might have some suggestions that will bring you peace of mind.


Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

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