In reference to civil lawsuits, a statute of limitations refers to how long a plaintiff has to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party. But regards to criminal lawsuits, the statute of limitations refers to how long the state has to file criminal charges against a person – how many years the state has to prosecute. If the state fails to file criminal charges within the statute of limitations, the state loses the right to prosecute permanently.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for prosecution is covered under Section 775.15 of the Florida Statutes. This statute addresses how long the state has to prosecute a person for all levels of crimes from misdemeanors all the way up to capital felonies. So, the question is, “How long does the state have to file charges against someone for driving under the influence (DUI)?”
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI Charges
For DUI and any other criminal offense in Florida, the statute of limitations to prosecute the suspect all depends on the category of the offense. DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. For example, if you were to get into a DUI accident causing property damage, you would be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. However, if someone else was seriously injured as a result of the DUI accident that you caused, you’d be guilty of a felony of the third degree.
The statute of limitations for DUI as a misdemeanor of the first degree is two years from the date of the DUI arrest. This means that if you’re arrested for DUI, the State of Florida has two years from the date of the arrest to file charges against you. As a felony of the third degree, the state has three years from the date of the incident to file felony DUI charges.
Please note that DUI can fit into different categories of offenses, so it can be more than just a misdemeanor of the first degree or a felony of the second degree. It all depends on the DUI defendant’s criminal history, if there was property damage and if anyone was injured or killed as a result of the drunk or drugged driving. Usually, the more serious the circumstances, the longer the state has to file DUI charges.