Each state has a set of “statutes of limitations” for criminal offenses. A criminal statute of limitations is a law that puts a limit on the number of years that can pass before a prosecutor is barred from charging a person for a crime. Some crimes, such as murder or rape, do not have a limit on the time the government has to charge an offender, since the crimes are so serious. There is a statute of limitations for filing DUI charges in California, and the statute varies depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the charge. A Ventura California DUI defense attorney from the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth discusses the various statutes of limitations for a DUI in California:
Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanor DUIs in California
Most DUIs in California are considered misdemeanors. If a person is convicted of 4 or more DUIs in a 10-year period, or if the DUI caused serious bodily harm or death, it will be prosecuted as a felony, instead. The statute of limitations for misdemeanor DUIs in California is 1 year from the date of the incident to file charges.
The penalties that a convicted driver can face for a misdemeanor DUI vary based on the number of prior offenses he or she has. The following is a list of jail time and fines that are categorized by number of priors:
- First offense misdemeanor DUI – Up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, plus penalty assessments
- Second offense misdemeanor DUI – Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, plus penalty assessments
- Third offense misdemeanor DUI – Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, plus penalty assessments
There are various other penalties that drivers convicted of a misdemeanor DUI can face. Some of these DUI penalties include the following:
- Drivers’ license suspension
- Drivers’ license revocation
- DUI school
- Community service
- Installation of an interlock device on your vehicle
- Increased insurance rates
Felony DUIs in California
As stated before, if a driver is convicted of 4 or more DUIs within a 10-year period, the offense is enhanced to a felony. A DUI will also be charged as a felony if an accident occurred that caused injuries or you were previously convicted of a felony DUI. The statute of limitations for these felony offenses is 3 years.
The penalties that a driver can face for a felony DUI include the following:
- Fourth offense DUI – Up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison, and fines in excess of $5,000
- Felony DUI – 3 or more years in state prison, and fines in excess of $2,500
The other penalties that a driver may face for a conviction of a felony DUI or fourth offense DUI include the ones described earlier in this post. In addition to those consequences, a driver may also be issued the following penalties:
- DUI Hospital and Morgue Program
- 4-10 years drivers’ license suspension
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel
- Inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation
- SCRAM alcohol monitoring
- Alcohol treatment
The statute of limitations for vehicular manslaughter and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is 3 years in the State of California. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (ordinary negligence) is considered a “wobbler” offense, and it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the driver’s prior criminal history and the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The following are penalties a driver may receive upon conviction of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated:
- Misdemeanor – Up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1,000
- Felony – Up to 4 years in jail and fines up to $10,000
Being charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated carries an implication that the driver knew that he or she was putting the lives of others at risk when deciding to drive while under the influence of alcohol. The penalties for a gross vehicular manslaughter conviction are 4-10 years in state prison.
Drivers with 2 or more prior DUI convictions who are subsequently convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter can face 15 years to life in prison as a penalty.
Ventura DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a DUI in Ventura or Santa Barbara, contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. A Ventura criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth represent individuals who have been charged with DUIs, some of whom have prior DUI convictions. Our attorneys utilize every available resource and fight to protect our clients’ rights. Call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney you can trust.