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Statute of Limitations

Florida's Statute of Limitations for DUI

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then how long does a prosecutor with the State of Florida have to commence the prosecution by charging you with a crime? Like all crimes in Florida, the statute of limitations depends on a number of factors including the way the offense is charged.

First, let's start with the civil statute of limitations that applies after a motor vehicle accident for personal injury. In a civil personal injury case to sue for damages after a crash, any person injured in the crash has only four (4) years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the at fault driver.

Determining the statute of limitations for the criminal case can be more difficult. As a practical matter, the statute of limitations rarely comes into play in a DUI prosecution because any evidence of impairment or intoxication disappears quickly. Additionally, these crimes typically involve a roadside investigation by a police officer. Since the police are immediately involved in the investigation, there is rarely any reason for a delay in the prosecution.

Most DUI cases are commenced when the arresting officer issued a DUI citation, usually on the same day that the offense occurs. In some cases, the state attorney might charge the crime through a "direct file information" after the urine or blood test results are returned by a crime lab.

The longest delay can occur when the officer doesn't gather any blood or urine sample because the suspect is taken to the hospital. In those cases, the prosecutor might attempt to issue an investigative subpoena to get the medical records to determine the blood alcohol concentration. Before the subpoena can be issued, the prosecutor must provided notice to the patient of the proposed supboena duces tecum for the production of medical records concerning the patient's blood alcohol concentration. 

For all of these reasons, the prosecutors typically charge the crime of DUI and DUI related offeneses well within the statute of limitations time period. The bigger problem in DUI cases is violations of the defendant's right to a speedy trial which is a separate issue.

Florida's statute of limitations can be found in Section 775.15 of the Florida Statutes. For DUI cases in Florida, the statute of limitations depends on the way the crime is charged including:

  • one year for a DUI-related offense charged as a second degree misdemeanor;
  • two years for a DUI-related offense charged as a first degree misdemeanor;
  • three years for a DUI-related offense charged as a third degree or second degree felony;
  • four years for a DUI-related offenses charged as a first degree or second degree felony; or
  • no time limit for any felony DUI-related offense that results in the death of another person.

In Florida, a DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the number of prior convictions and the type of damage caused in a crash.


Attorney on Florida's Statute of Limitations for DUI

If you are under investigation for DUI and concerned about Florida's statute of limitations, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL.

Our attorneys represent clients charged with a variety of DUI cases. We fight the first, second, third or fourth DUI charge. We also represent clients accused of causing a crash with property damage or injury.

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


This article was last updated on Friday, November 9, 2018.