While most DUI arrests occur at the scene of the accident or traffic stop that involved the impaired party, some occur long after this inciting incident. In many cases, impaired drivers are successfully able to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. For instance, impaired-driving accidents that occur in rural areas late at night may not attract the attention of law enforcement officials for hours or days. While there might be ample evidence to identify the driver of a car involved in a single-vehicle late-night accident that appeared to involve alcohol, this time lag may provide the suspect with an opportunity to avoid contact with law enforcement.
In these cases, an arrest warrant may be issued for the offending driver once he or she has been positively identified. Most of these warrants are executed promptly as car-less suspects tend to remain at home for days following alcohol-related vehicular crimes. However, it's not uncommon for suspects to flee the jurisdiction in which the incident occurs and never return. Since DUI convictions can have serious legal and personal consequences, many suspects choose to live as fugitives rather than fight losing court battles over these charges.
In rare cases, DUI suspects may escape the attention of local law enforcement agents for years without ever leaving the area in which the incident occurred. These suspects may even be unaware that there's an active warrant out for their arrest. Whether they don't recall the impaired-driving accident or assume that their identity was never positively determined, they may go about their daily routine with no reservations.
It is rarely prudent to become a fugitive from the law. Most outstanding arrest warrants are eventually executed. Once a fugitive has been captured and charged in person with the crime for which the warrant was issued, they'll have to face some other charges related to their flight. These can be quite serious and carry stiff additional penalties. Worse, former fugitives are typically considered flight risks. They may be denied bail for the duration of their criminal proceedings. If they're convicted, they typically face longer sentences and harsher restrictions on their movements.
In Iowa, there is no statute of limitations for a DUI arrest warrant. As long as a record of the warrant exists in the statewide criminal database that the Iowa State Police and some local law enforcement agencies use, fugitives in active DUI cases may be arrested at will.