Understanding the Statute of Limitations

a UTC outside court, sad as he arrived late

 In the state of Georgia, the prosecution of misdemeanors must be commenced within two years after the commission of the crime. This includes cases involving driving under the influence (DUI). However, there are some nuances and complexities to this law that must be understood to represent clients effectively in DUI cases. 

The Statute of Limitations in Georgia According to OCGA 17-3-1(d), the statute of limitations for misdemeanors in Georgia is two years. This means that the prosecution must file an accusation or indictment within two years of the commission of the crime. The statute begins at the time of arrest and ends when the accusation or indictment is filed. 

The Importance of the Filing Date 

The filing date of the accusation or indictment is crucial in determining whether the statute of limitations has expired. According to State v. Rish, Shire v. State, and Meservey v. State, the prosecution of a DUI commences when the accusation or indictment is filed. This is further supported by OCGA § 16-1-3(14), which defines the commencement of a prosecution as the filing of an accusation or indictment. 

The Controversial Cases

 Some cases, such as Chism v. State and Barker v. State, have suggested that the prosecution of a DUI commences at the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC). However, the interpretation is questionable given the clear legislative directive of OCGA 15-18-66 (10)( No accusation, citation, or summons shall be considered filed unless such filing has been done with the consent, direction, or approval of the solicitor-general.) The case law has established that the prosecution of a DUI does not commence until the UTC is filed. This is supported by the fact that a demand for a speedy trial cannot be filed until the UTC is filed, as established in State v. Gerbert. The Role of Strickland v. State In Strickland v. State, the court ruled that in order to survive a general demurrer or motion to quash, the UTC must either recite the language of the statute that sets out all the elements of the offense charged or allege the facts necessary to establish a violation of the statute. This ruling is important for DUI cases, as it sets a standard for the sufficiency of the UTC in order to proceed with the prosecution. 

Understanding the statute of limitations for DUI cases in Georgia is crucial for effectively representing clients in these cases given the slow proceedings in many courts which in some cases take up to five years to resolve on a routine basis. 

The prosecution of a DUI commences at the filing of the accusation or indictment, not at the issuance of the UTC. The case law has established this although there are conflicting cases on the subject which need to be resolved by the Georgia Supreme Court, and it is important to be aware of the nuances and complexities of this law in order to provide the best possible defense for clients facing DUI charges.

Contact Us Today

For a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of George Creal today on the web at www.georgecreal.com or on the phone at (404) 333-0706. We are here to help you navigate the legal system and fight for your rights.


The information in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.