What Is the Statute of Limitations in Georgia for a DUI?

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What is the statute of limitations in Georgia for a DUI? If you need information, resources, and advice, Philip Kim Law, P.C. can help. Call us to learn more.


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on January 03, 2023.


How Long Does the Prosecution Have to File DUI Charges?

Have you been arrested for DUI but not charged? You may wonder how long the prosecution has to file your DUI charge.

The statute of limitations is the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings have to be initiated. The statute of limitations for driving under the influence under Georgia law OCGA 17-3-1 is typically two years. Since DUI is usually a misdemeanor, the deadline for filing DUI charges is the same for most misdemeanor offenses. If the charges aren’t filed within that period, your Georgia DUI case may be dismissed.

However, there are exceptions. The Georgia statute of limitations for DUI cases can be longer in certain circumstances.

Although it is possible, it is unlikely that you will escape prosecution in a DUI case after the statute of limitations has passed. Hiring a DUI attorney may be your best move if you have been arrested for DUI since Georgia DUI laws can impose harsh and far-reaching penalties.

Can the Statute of Limitations for Georgia DUI Be Prolonged?

Many people don’t really understand how a statute of limitation applies to their DUI case. The most common misunderstanding involves people assuming that a DUI case has to be finished within two years. However, that is not correct. The prosecution only has to file formal charges within two years. Unless filed within two years, the prosecutor can’t proceed with the case against that defendant.

However, that only applies if a DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor. If an individual is facing felony DUI charges, the statute of limitations, in that case, is four years, as with most felony offenses in Georgia.

A DUI offense will be classified as a felony if it causes the death or serious injury of another person or an unborn child or if it results in the vehicular homicide of another person. In addition, having three or more prior convictions of DUI within the past 10 years can also make it a felony.

There’s another exception when it comes to DUI statute of limitations. If your Georgia DUI lawyer files a demand for a speedy trial, that means the prosecutor will have to try your case as fast as possible, within the current “term of court” or the next term. Failure to do so can result in a dismissal of your DUI case.

DUI cases have many nuances that are often challenging to understand. In some cases, defendants can benefit from requesting a speedy trial; in others, it can only hurt their chances.

The advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney can be beneficial to your case and help you decide which path to take.

What Penalties Can Be Expected After DUI Convictions?

First-time DUI convictions carry serious consequences if convicted. An individual could spend anywhere from 10 days up to a year in jail, pay fines from $300 to $1,000 and perform at least 40 hours of community service. Additionally, the driver must complete 12 months of probation. Although jail time may be shortened in certain cases, the probation period can’t.

A second DUI is punishable by 90 days to one year in county jail, fines between $600 and $1,000, and at least 30 days of community service.

If an individual is convicted of a third DUI within 5 years, they will be declared a habitual violator. Although still a misdemeanor, this offense is considered a high and aggravated one. Penalties include spending from 120 days to a year in jail, while fines range from $1,000 to $5,000. Completing a minimum of 30 days of community service is also necessary.

A fourth DUI is a felony that carries from one to 5 years in prison. Penalties also include up to $5,000 in fines, 60 days of community service, five years of probation, and other penalties, such as any recommended substance abuse treatment.

A DUI conviction may also require completion of DUI school, also called the Georgia Risk Reduction Program, and a substance abuse assessment.

Georgia DUI License Suspension Consequences

After a DUI conviction, the court notifies the Georgia DDS (Department of Diver Services), which registers the conviction on the individual’s driving record and imposes additional penalties. Bear in mind that these penalties can be imposed even if the driver is not convicted of DUI in court.

The suspension of a driver’s license can last for 12 months if a person is convicted of a DUI for the first time in five years. A subsequent DUI conviction within five years can result in a three-year suspension, while a third DUI conviction can result in a five-year suspension.

However, all drivers have 30 days after their DUI arrests to appeal their license suspensions or install an ignition interlock device.

Do DUIs Go Away in Georgia?

Unfortunately, no. A DUI conviction can’t be expunged; in other words, it will permanently remain on your criminal record and show at the background check. A DUI conviction also doesn’t qualify for the 2nd Chance Act, which allows individuals to petition to remove certain misdemeanor and felony convictions from their criminal records.

A DUI arrest can only be removed from your record if you weren’t convicted. DUI cases that have been placed on the “dead docket,” dismissed, or reversed may qualify for record restrictions.

What Is a Look-Back Period for a DUI in Georgia?

The prosecution typically uses a 10-year look-back period when determining a criminal DUI punishment. When it comes to the consequences of an individual’s driver’s license, a 5-year look-back period is used.

It is possible, however, for the courts to look beyond the mandatory look-back period. In some cases, the driver’s entire criminal record can be taken into account. In fact, any past DUI conviction in Georgia can be used to establish a pattern of misconduct.

Are there any exceptions to the DUI statute of limitations in Georgia?

In Georgia, the statute of limitations for a DUI case generally depends on whether the offense is categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony. For a first DUI conviction, which is usually considered a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations is typically two years. However, there are exceptions that can extend this period.

For example, if a state-administered test like a blood test or breath test reveals a high blood alcohol concentration, the statute could be extended. Additionally, if the DUI incident resulted in an accident causing serious injury or death, the offense could be elevated to a high and aggravated misdemeanor or even a felony, thereby extending the statute of limitations.

What happens if you leave the state of Georgia after a DUI arrest?

Leaving the state of Georgia after a DUI arrest can have significant implications for your Georgia DUI case. If you were arrested and subjected to field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg stand test, and state-administered chemical tests like blood tests or breath tests, leaving the state won’t stop the legal process. In fact, fleeing the state could result in additional charges and may toll (pause) the statute of limitations until you are found.

For a second DUI conviction, which may be considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor, leaving the state could complicate matters further. A bench warrant could be issued for your arrest, and you could be extradited back to Georgia to face charges. Police officers may also use your absence as evidence against you, arguing that it demonstrates consciousness of guilt.

How Can a DUI Lawyer Help With Georgia DUI Statute of Limitations?

Being arrested for a DUI can be overwhelming. It doesn’t really matter whether your charges involve DUI alcohol or DUI drugs; the penalties, as well as the statute of limitations, can be the same.

Although it happens, hoping the prosecution will not file DUI charges before the statute of limitations expires is not a realistic expectation. On the other hand, consulting criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville may prove to be the better way to handle DUI charges due to their knowledge of GA DUI laws.

For more questions on how a statute of limitations in Georgia can impact your DUI case, talk to a criminal defense lawyer at Philip Kim Law, P.C.

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
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Fax: (678) 273-3501
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