If you are charged with a DUI, you may start hearing a bunch of new words you’ve never encountered before. That’s understandable as much of the language related to these charges is something created and used almost exclusively by courts, prosecutors and San Diego DUI lawyers. As long as you’re in this situation though, it will likely benefit you to become more familiar with the verbal shorthand used while discussing drunk driving cases. Here are a few of the most common terms:
Administrative Per Se Suspension (also known as Administrative License Revocation, Administrative License Suspension, and often shortened to APS Suspension, ALR or ALS): If you are arrested for driving under the influence and fail the chemical test or refuse to take it, your license will automatically be suspended even before your criminal case is brought to court. With the help of a top San Diego DUI lawyer, you can fight this license suspension by filing for a a license revocation hearing with the DMV.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (also known as Blood Alcohol Level, and often shortened to BAC or BAL): This is the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood stream. If you are arrested for drunk driving, you are legally required to take a chemical test to measure you BAC. If it registers as above .08, you will be charged with drunk driving and will need to contact a San Diego DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.
Chemical Tests: Blood, breath or urine tests used to determine whether or not a person has been driving under the influence. In most cases, the breathalyzer test will be used to determine if someone has been drinking, but you may request a blood test as well. If you are suspected of driving under the influence of a drug, you will most likely be required to take a urine test. Whichever test you take, you can fight the results in court.
DUI, DWI, OUI, OWI, OMVI, DUIL, DUII, DWAI, DWUI, etc.: These are all terms that mean driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While California uses the charge Driving Under the Influence (DUI), other states use similar terms. Because many people in San Diego are from other states, you will occasionally hear some of these other terms, especially in or near military bases.
Enhancements: Factors that can increase DUI penalties. For example, having previous DUIs on your record, being involved in an accident where someone was seriously injured, having a child in the car while driving under the influence or having a very high BAC.
Field Sobriety Tests (abbreviated as FST): Tests performed during a roadside traffic stop to determine if a person is intoxicated. The three most common tests of this type, known as the Standard Field Sobriety Tests, involve walking in a straight line and turning, following the officer’s pen or finger with your eyes and balancing on one leg. These tests are not mandatory and are very subjective. In fact, they can often be excluded as evidence with the help of your San Diego DUI attorney.
Ignition Interlock Device: If you are convicted of a DUI, the court may require you to install one of these devices in your car. The device requires drivers to provide a breath sample before the ignition will start.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS): If an officer suspects you have been drinking, he may ask you to blow into a portable breathalyzer device at the site of the traffic stop. This device is not a substitute for a real chemical test and you are still legally required to take a chemical test if you are arrested for DUI. These tests are only mandatory for minors and most drivers will be better off refusing to take the PAS.
Wet Reckless: A lesser charge involving driving after drinking. In some cases, your San Diego DUI lawyer may be able to have a DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless so you will not have to face as many penalties.
Zero Tolerance: While this term is used in other situations, when it comes to DUIs, it refers to the fact that minors under the age of 21 can be arrested for drunk driving if they have any alcohol in their system. This term also applies to those on DUI probation, as there is zero tolerance for driving with any amount of alcohol for these drivers and if they are caught, they will face a mandatory one year suspension for violating this rule.
If you have any more questions about DUIs, please check our extensive FAQ section or call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with San Diego DUI defense lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Renee Silverman