If you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you will be held in jail for up to eight hours until officers believe you are no longer impaired. Often, you will leave jail with a court date for you first hearing regarding DUI charges. In other situations, however, you may leave jail with no information and wonder whether you will be charged with an offense at all. It’s important to know that authorities have a specific amount of time in which to charge you with a crime, called the “statute of limitations.” Until the statute of limitations for your particular offense is up, you can still receive charges and a summons to court in the mail.
A South Florida woman who is accused of killing an off-duty Fort Lauderdale police officer while driving drunk recently learned how long it can take to be charged. The accident in question happened in August of 2016 and the woman lived and worked as usual for over a year. In October of 2017, however, she was arrested and charged with multiple offenses regarding the accident including DUI manslaughter. Her case is pending.
If you are released from jail without any indication of charges or a court date, do not think think you got off scot-free. The is a good chance you will receive a summons in the mail and you should be prepared. You should discuss any DUI arrest with an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.
Time Limits for DUI Charges
Like any type of legal case, the statutes of limitations for filing a criminal complaint in Florida varies depending on the type of case – specifically, the severity and nature of the crime. For example, the following are some time limits for criminal charges in Florida:
- First-degree misdemeanor = Two years
- Felonies (other than first-degree) = Three years
- First-degree felonies = Four years
- Felonies that resulted in the death of another person = No time limit
A DUI charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on several factors including whether you had prior DUI convictions on your record, whether you caused serious injury, and more. For a first offense, the prosecutor will generally have two years to charge you. In the above-mentioned case, there would have been no statute of limitations because the alleged offense involved a fatal accident.
Even if you are not immediately charged with DUI, your license can still be suspended by the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles. This administrative license suspension will need to be handled separately from any criminal case and there are strict time limits to fight the suspension, so you should always call a skilled defense attorney right away after an arrest.