The DUI statute of limitations sets a time limit for the state to file charges against a person accused of driving under the influence (DUI). The amount of time the authorities are given to do so varies depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the offense. The time limit for a misdemeanor is shorter than for a felony DUI charge.
The statute of limitations is a idea taken from Roman Law. Placing a time limit on bringing criminal charges is meant to ensure the matter is dealt with in a speedy manner. There is little point in pursuing a matter years after the fact when witnesses may have died or forgotten details of the event. The time limit starts to run from the day the offense occurred.
Many people associate a DUI with driving after consuming alcohol, it also applies in a case where a driver has taken drugs before getting behind the wheel. It doesn't matter if the drugs were prescribed by a physician or are illegal; if they place the driver in a condition where he or she is unable to operate the vehicle safely, the person can be arrested and the DUI statute of limitations applies.
In the United States, the DUI statute of limitations is set by individual states. The time that authorities have to press charges varies from 12-18 months for a misdemeanor offense to up to seven years for a felony. Generally speaking, a simple DUI is treated as a misdemeanor. In a situation where the impaired driver caused severe injury or death, felony charges may be applied.
Under the Canadian Criminal Code, a driver must be able to exercise proper care and control of a motor vehicle. Failure to do so is a criminal offense. Provincial and territorial laws also govern impaired driving and set penalties such as fines and drivers' license suspensions for those individuals found guilty of a DUI offense. Other countries' laws may be similar.
, if the Crown prosecutor is treating an impaired driving charge as a summary offense, the DUI statute of limitations is six months. If the Crown is treating the matter as an indictable offense, years can pass before the individual is formally accused of a crime.