Information on Being Formally Charged with a DUI or DWI
When an individual is arrested and cited for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) it does not mean they have automatically been charged with the crime. What typically happens in these instances, is a person does not yet have any scheduled court date, or even know when to expect one in the future.
The scenario occurs because the officer who pulls over, cites, and arrests the individual for the DUI or DWI charge, is tasked with writing a report and sending it to the District Attorney’s office for the state in which the arrest took place. This report is then passed on to the individual who is responsible for writing up and filing the formal charges.
Deputy District Attorneys have the final say on a decision to file charges against an individual who has been arrested. A lot of times, Deputy DA’s get their queue backed up with filing requests, meaning that the driver who got arrested for a DUI but with no court date yet, may not be charged until sometime later. In most states, the District Attorney’s office has up to a year to make the charges official – this is known as the “Statute of Limitations.” Depending on the charge being considered, the DA may have up to three years to file.
If the individual is arrested, booked, and then released, meaning they were not bailed out of a jail, a complaint against them must be filed within a 25-day period in some cases. This is a little known statute of limitations although, in many cases, the judge will not dismiss the case even if this 25-day period has not been honored – most states rely heavily on the one-year statute of limitations.
Should the DA’s Office not file charges within that one year period, the court will lose jurisdiction against the defendant. Any person who has been recently charged, needs to know how to take proactive measures with being prepared so any pending DUI charge gets dismissed.
Statutes of Limitations for DUI/DWI by State
Although one year is the general statute of limitations for Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated charges, there is some variance from one state to the next. Additionally, the statute of limitations will vary between a misdemeanor and felony DUI or DWI charge.
The statutes of limitations for misdemeanor DUI or DWI charges allow prosecutors at least one year after the date the offense was committed in order to file former charges. Some states allow for longer statues of limitations on these types of violations.
Misdemeanor DUI or DWI charges are often restricted to offenders who commit first, second, or third DUI offenses without any additional aggravating factors. It is important to keep in mind, however, that some states consider second or third offense arrest to be felony charges. Here are some examples of statutes of limitations for misdemeanor DUI by state:
- Alabama: 12 Months
- Arizona: 12 Months
- Colorado: 12 to 18 Months
- Florida: 12 to 24 Months
- Idaho: 12 Months
- Iowa: 12 to 36 Months
- Louisiana: 6 to 24 Months
- Minnesota: 36 Months
- New Jersey: 24 Months
- Pennsylvania: 24 Months
The statute of limitations for felony DUI or DWI charges are significantly longer than those of misdemeanor drunk or drugged driving charges. If additional crimes were involved, such as a death as a result of the individual driving under the influence of alcohol, Marijuana, or prescribed medicine, additional charges may be applied including vehicular manslaughter.
If these additional charges are cited to the individual, the statute of limitations will be even longer for the prosecutor to file office charges in the case. Felony DUI charges are often those operating while intoxicated arrests which include aggravating factors. Some of these aggravating factors include:
- Causing Injury or Accident
- Very High BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
- Presence of a Minor
- Resisting or Evading Arrest
- Having Previous DUI or DWI Charges on a criminal record
It is important to note that missing or skipping court dates or evading police in order to run out the statute of limitations will not protect an individual from prosecution. The District Attorney can still file formal charges against an individual even if they have not appeared in court or been formally served their charge and, as long as they do so within the allotted time provided by the state, the charges will stand.
Here are some examples of statutes of limitations for felony DUI charges by state:
- Arkansas: 36 Months to 6 Years
- California: 36 Months to 8 Years
- Georgia: 4 Years
- Michigan: 6 Years
- Montana: 5 Years
- Nevada: 3 Years
- Ohio: 6 Years
- South Carolina: No Limit
- Texas: 36 Months
- Utah: 24 to 36 Months
Penalties to Expect for DUI or DWI by State
Just as the statute of limitations for an individual to be charged with a DUI or DWI vary from state to the next, so do the penalties that individuals can expect to face when they are charged. Although the punishment to expect to happen will vary, the most common consequences individual’s face include fines, loss or suspension of license, having to take alcohol education classes, and possible jail time. Additionally, those who are second or third offenders of DUI or DWI charges often face much harsher penalties than first offenders do.
Here are some examples of the penalties individuals face for first offense DUI charges by state:
- Arizona: 90 Day License Suspension, Alcohol Education Courses
- Delaware: 3 Month License Suspension, Alcohol Education Courses, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
- Florida: 6 Month License Suspension, Alcohol Education Courses, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
- Kentucky: 30 Day License Suspension, Alcohol Education Courses, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
- Maryland: 60 Day License Suspension, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
- New Jersey: 3 Month License Suspension, Alcohol Education Courses, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement
As mentioned earlier, the penalties for second and third DUI or DWI charges are often much harsher than those for first time offenders. In most states, these higher consequences include longer license suspension and the required use of an ignition interlock device on their individual’s vehicle.
The following are some examples of the penalties individuals face for second and third DUI conviction by state:
- Arkansas: 1 Year License Suspension for 2nd Offense, 3 Year License Suspension for 3rd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 2nd Offense
- Illinois: 1 Year License Suspension for 2nd Offense, Varied License Suspension for 3rd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 3rd Offense, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement for 2nd Offense
- North Carolina: 60 Day License Suspension for 2nd Offense, 90 Day License Suspension for 3rd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 4th Offense
- Pennsylvania: 1 Year License Suspension for 2nd and 3rd Offenses, Possible Ignition Interlock Device Requirement for 2nd Offense
- Texas: 180 Day License Suspension for 2nd and 3rd Offenses, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 3rd Offense
- Wisconsin: 1 Year License Suspension for 2nd Offense, 2 Year License Suspension for 3rd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 3rd Offense
It is important to note that the penalties listed here are not the only consequences that individuals face when they are charged with DUI. Since there is so much variance in the Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated laws from one state to the next, it can often be difficult to track each individual penalty.
As a general rule of thumb, first time DUI offenders will often face fines and the possibility of jail time. Second and third time DUI offenders will incur higher fines, and can expect a mandatory period of time to serve in jail for an average minimum length ranging 10 to 60 days.
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