One of the protections that citizens have against unfair prosecution by the government is what is known as a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is simply the legal term for a time limit within which the government must file criminal charges against you for a given action. It prevents the government from holding crimes over someone's head, and also means that people can put their mistakes in the past and move on with their lives. For misdemeanors, which most DUIs will fall under, that time limit is two years. However, Governor Inslee, through a single proclamation signed on April 15, suspended the statute of limitations on crimes for a full month.
Was the Extra Time Necessary?
The logic behind the order was simply that, just like most other professionals working during the coronavirus pandemic, local prosecutors have had their work lives disrupted in a major way. Thus, extending the statute of limitations for DUI charges would give them more time to catch up on the caseload and file charges that they felt had merit. However, it is rare for prosecutors in Washington to take the full two years to file charges for DUI cases. Even in cases where there are excessive delays, the proceedings will rarely extend past the twelve-month mark. This means that giving an extension likely wasn't really necessary for prosecutors to be able to file charges on cases that had merit.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you were stopped by a police officer on suspicion of DUI between April 15 and May 13 of 2018, then the statute of limitations to file your charges should have run out two years from that date, i.e., the same date of this year. However, the extension means that the prosecutor in your case may have filed charges in your case that they otherwise might not have given the extension. The extra time given to them allowed their offices to file more charges that they possibly had already decided were not worth filing. It is possible that your case is a case that would not have been filed had Governor Inslee not issued this order.
What Do I Do If I was Charged with a DUI?
No two cases will ever be exactly the same, but here are a few steps to follow if you are arrested on a DUI:
1. Be Honest but Know Your Rights
When interacting with law enforcement, don't lie or be unnecessarily harsh in response to any questions. However, this doesn't mean you need to answer all questions. Avoid answer questions that might lead to incriminating answers.
2. Memorialize the Incident
After you are released, write down everything you remember about your accident—this information may aid your attorney later on in crafting a successful argument.
3. Contact an Attorney
Make it clear that you would like to speak with an attorney as soon as you are arrested. Then, when you have the chance, speak to an experienced Seattle attorney about what your options might be.
Contact Steve Karimi Law Office Today
Fighting DUI charges can be a very stressful experience, but it is not something that you need to do on your own. Let Steve Karimi's experience as a prosecutor work for you as you go through this difficult time. For a free consultation, call 206-621-8777.