Statute of Limitations for a DUI

I have gotten several calls from potential clients asking what the statute of limitations is for a DUI. I always hear the same story from them and it goes a little something like this…

“I was arrested about 10 months ago for a DUI. I spent the night in jail and released with a court date. I showed up at the court date and told that the district attorney had not yet filed charges. I haven’t heard anything from the court. Is there a time for which the district attorney must file charges or will I have this hanging over my head forever?”

Well, the answer is no, you will not have it hanging over your head forever. For a non-felony DUI, the district attorney has one year from the day you were arrested to file charges. California Penal Code section 802 states, “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. Therefore the statute of limitations on any misdemeanor DUI is one year.

Most of the time, the prosecutor files charges by the first court date. However, there are some circumstances in which prosecutors wait to file charges including waiting on a blood test, cases where the BAC was close or below the legal limit, or simply where the prosecutor is backlogged in reviewing potential cases to file. If charges have not been filed, the person will be notified of such during the first court date and told that they will receive a notice by mail if and when charges are filed.  In these cases, many people often do nothing, hoping that the prosecutor will just “forget” to file charges. On the contrary, it is often advantageous for people to hire an attorney prior to charges being filed so that the attorney can attempt to prevent charges from being filed.

Also, people are often mistaken when they believe that the statute of limitations has run on an old DUI when they simply did not take care of the case. For example, someone might think that the statute of limitations has run on a seven year old DUI that they never appeared in court for. This belief cannot be more wrong.  If charges were filed within a year of the arrest, not prosecuted, the statute of limitations has been met.

If this is you, chances are you have a warrant out for your arrest.

This entry was posted in California State Law, Court Proceedings, DUI Arrests and Procedures, DUI Laws, Recent News, State Legislation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Statute of Limitations for a DUI

  1. Ashley says:

    I lived in Hawaii for a year and got a DUI. I blew a .10 and was served, went to court and it was filed without prejudice. I recently moved about 6 months ago now and now I hear they are looking to serve me again and open up the case again. How long is the statute of limitations on this? I understand they could reopen the case but can they serve papers across state lines? And how long do they have to serve papers?
    I read previously on your blog that they have a year but since my case was already over and done with I am not sure what the time restraints on it are?

    Thanks so much for your time!

  2. Vernon says:

    A friend of mine got a DUI in Calif Sacramento 10 1/2 years ago and I just wanted to know what is the statute of limitation is thank you for your time

  3. Ruth says:

    My friend got 2 dui’s 10 years ago. Is there a statute of limitations on the required classes and fines to have your license reinstated? He is also incarcerated and getting out in 3 months and heared some of the fines are waved because he has served time? Any information would be helpful. Thankyou

    • Jim Hunter says:

      I received a DUI in Arizona in 1984. I moved away from Arizona in 1985.
      In 1986 I received my court date just under 2 years from the DUI arrest.
      I did not return to Arizona for the court date, and haven’t been back
      in 28 years. Would I still have a warrant out for my arrest?
      Thank you,

      • Dale says:

        Yep, I am going thru BS right now from a DUI in AZ in 1986. Showed up just never did anything court said, left AZ in 1989. Have lived in CA ever since, they just this year refused to renew my DL over it (this is BS in itself there needs to be limitations for things this old). Contacted ADOT they referred me to the original court, these bastards threatened me, “good thing you are not in AZ or you would be arrested……”. I am good at making threats right back which I did, that quieted the broad on the phone real quick. Bottom line is they are extorting $600 out of me with no evidence of original crime as it was all destroyed years ago due to space requirements. Was told if its in the computer you pay if you want your license. I am arranging payment and will upon return of my license I will sue the County involved and quite possibly the State of AZ itself for blackmail. (my atty is advising this by the way). Good luck.

        • Jackie says:

          AZ is HELL with DUIs–NO Stat of Limitns on DUI charges OR conviction records.

          I also just got my CA DL Renewal Held for a 2007 DUI (Rx only) in AZ. Nightmare to get CA DMV’s required “Clearance” from AZ, including an AZ IGNITION INTERLOCK –which is NOT EVEN REQUIRED IN ARIZONA anymore for DUI Rx!

          All hail the corrupt Ignition Interlock Industry ($BILLIONS) and their paid-off mercenaries, MADD (who do IID dirty work in State Legislatures)

          • Christina says:


            Did you have to get the interlock? I’m going through the same thing with AZ DUI Misdemeanor I received in 2008.

  4. Aaron says:

    I was ticketed with a DUI ticket when I was 17 years old. On the ticket it was stated that it was an infraction not a misdemeanor or a felony. I appeared on the court date that was given and the clerk had told me my name was not coming up on the computer. My license was suspended for one year by the DMV. I am trying to get my license reinstated, and was wondering if i still have to complete a DUI program for a DL 101 Form?
    And what will happen with the court case? will it ever come up again? or has the statute of limitations been up already? I haven’t heard from the court at all.
    if u can get back to me asap that would be great !!!

    • Brent Van Meter says:

      I can tell you I received a DUI in 1999 and Moved away from the state of Kansas same deal as yours i moved back here in 2010 had my Cousin of which is a Kansas Highway Patrolman run a Wants and Warrants check for me it was all clear and then out of the Blue November 2013 a Police officer pulled into my drivewayand had a warrant for my Arrest for this DUI in 1999!!! 14 years later beleive me i am in Court now and they have no Mercy even though I never got papers and so on!! I would tryto get ahold of the County where DUI happened and make arrangements to take care of this!!

      • mike says:

        file a serna motion anything after a year if they dont try to prosicute or serve u has to be dropped in california check into it

  5. Aaron says:

    This was 4 years ago by the way

  6. John W. Fink says:

    My son was arrested in July of 2010 for a misdemeanor DUI.
    My wife and I went and picked him up from the police facility that night. Since then, he has never been given a court date, license suspended, nothing on his DMV report, or any documents from any government agency.

    Now in October of 2013, he just received notice of a Court Date in December.

    Does the 1 year statute of limitations for the DA to file for arraignment apply to a case like this?

  7. Bryant Winkels says:

    15 years ago, I had a single car accident where I ran off the road and rolled my truck. I sustained a C-6 spinal cord injury and am paralyzed from my chest down. My blood-alcohol content was 0.19. I was very weak when they rolled me into the courthouse. The bailiff came out and spoke to me and told me I should just go home and there’s no way that he would ever come and arrest me. I have since become an author and have worked my myself back to good health and would like to drive again with a modified vehicle of course. What is the likely scenario that I would have to go through to get reinstated.

  8. joey martinez says:

    I got a dui almost ten years ago and I moved out of California and haven’t been back since. Is their a statue on it.

  9. Kara says:

    I got a DUI 7 years ago in New Hampshire. I had to pay a $600 dollar fine and had my license suspended for 2 years and was also required to take DUI classes. I still have never taken the classes. It has been 7 years..Do I still need to take them before getting my license back?

  10. michael Easthom says:

    I am disabled and have an equilibrim problem when I walk. They did not have me blow, but issued a dui. I went ahead and paid a $731. ticket. This was in 1995 in Georgia. I got a fla license in Florida in 1971. I let my license expire and now they are saying I have this on the national data base. Isn’t there a statue of limitations on a dui from 20 years ago. What can I do? It shouldn’t from 1995 to 2007 to get into the national data base.

  11. John says:

    I live in Hawaii now and have a license,but I had to terminate my license in California.I did not complete the 18 month program ,I went to court to ask the Judge if I could complete program in Hawaii and he said no on unformal probation also I had finacial difficulties I explained,and present am here with a warrant do to not reporting back to court with 30 meetings in thirty days and not registering to a class and ticket i got for driving on suspended Lic, unfortunatly at the time I was leaving here to Hawaii Iam a student at UH Hilo and a resident wher I live and do not live in California….How do I handle this.

  12. Sarah says:

    My husband was arrested in December 2013 for a “DUI”. The two cops that arrived had turned their cameras off, claimed the car smelled of weed and persisted to pick up grass from the newly cut lawn and bag it for evidence (I couldn’t help but laugh at the severe stupidity of the cops), then insisted that he was drunk when he had not been drinking. He was taking a guest home because the guest we had over HAD been drinking. So he was basically arrested and harassed for being a designated driver in Dublin Texas. The blood test done by police (according to my husbands court appointed lawyer) has vanished without a trace, and to this day Oct/17/2014, there is still no court date, the company that he went through to get bailed out has recently disconnected their number with no other way to contact them, his license had been cut up into pieces and we are told it is suspended, and there seems to be no end in sight of this stupidity… We need help. I am physically disabled and cant drive and we have two small kids that need their dad to be able to drive again…

  13. warren says:

    pending arraignment SF peninsula bac .10 w/ prior dec. 2005.
    Question does a wet reckless conviction waive prior over seven years
    dmv status?

  14. Angie Lawrence says:

    My husband is sitting in Clay County Detention in Missouri for a DWI he got last year in June but he has two other ones that are 30 years old. Cand he get probation or timed served because he has been in there almost 90 days.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi, Angie –

      I’m only licensed to practice law in California. Therefore, I cannot say what may or may not happen to your husband in Missouri. I would suggest, however, contacting an attorney about your husband’s situation.

  15. T C Garcia says:

    Please I need help. My Daughter was hit by a drunk driver on 11/27/14 and suffered injuries and my car was completely totaled. I have been looking for his case # and calling around to different places. Finally contacted Valencia Court and I just found out that they rejected his case. The lady stated there wasn’t enough evidence. So my question is did my daughter have to be severely injured to prosecute him? The police reports show how he was throwing out the beer cans out of the car. Please help me he can’t get away with this.

  16. T C Garcia says:

    Please I need help. My Daughter was hit by a drunk driver on 11/27/14 and suffered injuries and my car was completely totaled. I have been looking for his case # and calling around to different places. Finally contacted Valencia Court and I just found out that they rejected his case. The lady stated there wasn’t enough evidence. So my question is did my daughter have to be severely injured to prosecute him? The police reports show how he was throwing out the beer cans out of the car. Can his case be reinstated Please help me he can’t get away with this.

  17. Lorna says:

    If I got DUI when I was 17 and didn’t get arrested or didn’t show in court , my question is since I’m 21 know would I still have the DUI charge ? I’m trying to figure out so if I do I can pay the ticket to get done with????

  18. Brandon long says:

    I got arrested for dwi in July of last year in the state of Texas how long do they have to take it to court its a misdemeanor

  19. Jacqueline Norton says:

    My son just paid over $ 3000 dollars in reinstatement fees and adsap in SC.His license had been suspended for ten years, in SC. Just after he got his license back . New Jersey , Illinois, and Virginia, sent him a letter wanting money. He served time and paid his fines. Mind you, he got in trouble over twenty years ago. Can they do this after all these years? New Jersey says he owes surcharges. They say if he doesn’t pay them his SC license will be suspended in two months. Is this legal?

  20. Kris says:

    My lawyer keeps putting off my court date because an old case/file hasn’t shown up on my record. How much longer will/can the DA wait if the second DUi hasn’t shown up on my record? It will be 1 year in August that the DUI took place

  21. Max says:

    Hey guys, I got pulled over for a minor traffic violation about 2-3 months ago, I passed all the field sobriety tests except the breathalyzer (apparently, and he never told me what I blew) I am under 21 but did not have much to drink (also had 2 large dinners that night) so I know I didnt blow very high. I got arrested, taken to the hospital for blood, then to the barracks for finger prints and a mug. I was released that night & had someone come pick me up but before I left they never gave me any sort of paperwork just all my info and wallet back. The officer also said I could go back to my car and pick it up and get home or to a friends house. When should I expect to hear from someone? Should I call (and who should I call?) I appreciate any reply.

    PS This was in Pennsylvania if it matters.

  22. Kathryn says:

    I just got a postcard from Florida for a 20 yr old DUI….I live in Oregon and i also showed up in court but had to move for obvious financial reasons….i never got another DUI but somehow they have used my old name and sent me this postcard to contact them for money I’m sure…..why r they terrorizing ppl that have pulled themselves up….they obviously want money and the thought of giving them another dime makes me sick…what would ur suggestion be on something like this?

    • Chris says:


      I want to preface my comments by saying that I am NOT a Florida attorney, but rather, I practice in California. Therefore, I am unfamiliar with the specific laws and rules of court in Florida. So, my first piece of advice is to contact a Florida DUI attorney that is familiar with the jurisdiction/county of your case. That being said, here is my take…

      Unfortunately, I do really understand what is going on based on your question. If you are being contacted by Florida due to a prior DUI where you were convicted and then were required to pay fines (but did not pay them all), then it is possible that Florida can issue a warrant based on a violation of probation for failing to pay the fines. It doesn’t matter how long ago it occurred, the warrant and potential probation violation will always be out there unless you resolve the matter. I would say that if the violation is simply based off failure to pay money, then the Courts are generally pretty lenient as long as you can pay them…like you implied, they want their money.

      However, if the DUI in Florida was never resolved, then they could have issued a warrant for a whole other reason…namely, a valid case that is still pending. This means that there is very likely a warrant for your arrest out of Florida since the case was never resolved. Just like a probation violation, a warrant for failing to go to court on a DUI case will stay in the system FOREVER until it is resolved. Therefore, whether this is a probation violation based on a failure to pay fines, or if you still have an “open” and unresolved DUI case out of Florida, it would be in your interest to try and take care of it. Again, I would contact a local Florida attorney to try and give you more advice, and maybe, he/she can try to resolve the matter for you. Good luck!

  23. Kathryn says:

    Thank u so much sir… is a resolved case, but I lost my job because of it and I had to leave or would have been homeless….I greatly appreciate ur advice on this matter…..i will contact an attorney there…..

  24. Shawn says:

    I got a DUI in 2001 and went to court was filed and judge sentenced me to jail time as well as me paying my fine in jail time also judge also ordering a first time classes the judge is a statue of limitation in affect said that DMV can handle the DUI and so she sent the file to DMV

  25. Wesley Johnson says:

    I have a second DUI the second DUI that I had was almost 8 years ago and I have not had a license since I have paid all of my phones my ticket charges everything I want my license back without having breather in my car . Here in West Virginia if you’ve had a second DUI they put you on home confinement while I was on home confinement I was not allowed to go and get my license renewed so therefore I have no license and I want my license back asap can you help ? Thanks my phone number is 304-922-7609 .

  26. Mitch Adams says:

    I got a DUI in 1984 in Illinois sleeping in my car got bailed out $400 went to court twice the officer never showed up.I retained a lawyer $2000 . I was working for a company at the time driving a semi the company in that city shut down they transferred me out of state. I asked the judge if I could leave because I was getting transferred I was given permission. I never lost my license and I have ended up in Mn .I went to renew my license they said that I had to contact Illinois. I did and had to fill out and mail in a 15 page petition to release the hold on my license.It has been 5 weeks I have not heard anything and I can’t get to work. Why is this aloud to happen?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *