DUI Glossary

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Administrative License Revocation (also Administrative License Suspension) - Confiscation of drivers license immediately upon arrest - the person arrested for driving under the influence need not be convicted in criminal proceeding to lose theior license. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia allow for some form Administrative License Revocation (either automatic or discretionary on the part of the arresting officer).

Alcohol Equivalence - a typical can or bottle of beer (12oz), a typical glass of wine (5oz), or a typical shot of distilled spirits in a shot or mixed drink (1oz) each contain roughly the same amount of alcohol. A person just drinking beer or wine can as readily get a DUI as someone drinking hard liquor.

Alcohol-Related Auto Accidents - Statistical Data propagated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) in conjunction with MADD in efforts to portray the negative consequences of alcohol consumption in the worst possible light. As a statistical category Alcohol Related Auto Accidents include all accidents where alcohol had been consumed or believed to have been consumed by either the driver, a passenger, third party (e.g. a pedestrian or cyclist) involved in accident. GetMADD.com takes particular issue with Alcohol-Related Auto Accidents data.

BAC - An acronym for Blood alcohol concentration.

Blood Alcohol Concentration The percentage amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. In the United States, every state now has a limit 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100ml (i.e. .08 percent). Many states have lower limits for persons under 21, persons operating a commercial vehicle, and other conditions. Most other countries have much lower limits. Sometimes referred to as Blood Alcohol Level (BAL).

Breathalyzer (also breathalyser) - Brand name of a portable device that measures blood alcohol concentration by testing a person's breath exhalation. Breathalyzer is often used to refer to the entire category of such devices. Breathalyzer was originally trademarked by Smith and Wesson and is now owned by National Draeger. The Wikipedia has more extensive information on Breathalyzers.

Burn off - Dissipation of alcohol from a person's body. Burn off rate varies greatly depending on age, body weight, medical condition, genetics, and other factors. See How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? by David J. Hanson, Ph.D. for more information on Burn off.

Chemical Tests - Measures of alcohol concentration in a person's breath, urine, or blood. Since urine and breath tests need to make inferences to assess blood alcohol concentration, they are generally not as accurate as direct blood tests.

DUI - Driving under the influence. Generally refers to alcohol intoxication, but DUI can also apply to the influence of drugs (legal or illegal). Some states also specifically prohibit driving under the influence of toxic vapors (e.g. sniffing paint fumes or huffing glue). Also referred to as drunk driving, DWI (Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired), OUI (Operating Under the Influence), OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), OMVI (operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated), DUIL (Driving Under the Influence of Liquor), DUII (Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant), DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), DWUI (Driving While Under the Influence). See Wikipedia for more information on DUI

DWI - Driving while intoxicated or Driving While Impaired. Generally synonymous with DUI, but some states have a lesser DWI charge at around 0.05 blood alcohol concentration.

Dram Shop Liability - a dram shop (or dramshop) is a legal term in the United States that refers to a drinking establishment where alcoholic beverages are served to be drunk on the premises. Dram shop liability arises when such establishments are held accountable for harm to third parties arising out of the sale of alcohol to visibly (or habitually) intoxicated persons or minors. Only 8 states lack any dram shop laws (Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia) while they vary considerably in the other 42 states and the District of Columbia. The Wikipedia has a run down on differences in dram shop liabililty law across the states. Dram shop liability is a contentious topic where some argue for greater personal responsibility while others see it as an effective means to curb alcohol abuses.

Drunk Driving - Generally synonymous with DUI.

Enhancements - Factors which increase the severity of punishments in DUI convictions. Factors which can lead to enhancements include excessive speed, having a child in the vehicle, being involved in accident, very high blood alcohol concentration.

Field Sobriety Tests (FST) - Tests of coordination and/or mental agility often used to provide an initial assessment of sobriety. Field Sobriety tests are usually performed roadside shortly after an officer stops a driver. Field sobriety tests include walk in a straight line (heel-to-toe), tip head back with eyes closed and touch the tip of the nose with the index finger (Rhomberg test), standing on one foot, recall all or part of the alphabet (maybe backwards), finger exercises, and horizontal gaze nystagmus (jerking of eyes when following a stimulus to the side). The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has conducted several studies to try to improve the accuracy of these Field Sobriety Tests and as a result has developed Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - One of the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). Nystagmus is rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement - the eyes moving quickly in one direction and slowly in the other. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is assessed by lack of smooth eye tracking, distinct jerking at maximum eye angle, onset of jerking prior to 45 degree angle.

Ignition Interlock Devices - A mechanism designed to prevent a motor vehicle's ignition from working until a driver is shown to be alcohol free after breathing into a mouthpiece.

Implied Consent - Operation of a motor vehicle in of itself provides sufficient grounds for an officer to require sobriety tests. In most states, implied consents extends to both Field Sobriety Tests and .

MADD (Mothers' Against Drunk Driving) - MADD is national non-profit organization (with international chapters) that works to reduce incidence of DUI through tougher laws and education outreach. MADD was founded by Candy Lightner in 1980 following the death of her daughter in a drunk driving accident.

National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) - "a professional, non-profit corporation dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to the dissemination of information to the public about DUI Defense Law as a specialty area of law practice."

National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) - Part of the Department of Transportation, NHTSA is the federal agency most involved with driving under the influence issues. Among other activities, NHTSA compiles impairment data, conducts and sponsors research, develops testing protocols (see Standardized Field Sobriety Tests) and guidelines for sobriety checkpoints, and conducts impairment educational programs.

OWI - Operating while intoxicated. Used in Wisconsin as well as some other state statues. Generally synonymous with DUI.

Open Container Laws - Statues that prohibit possession of non-sealed alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of motor vehicles.

Per Se - Latin for "itself" when applied to DUI law means that a person has broken the law by having blood alcohol concentration above a certain limit (in the US 0.08) regardless of any physical or mental manifestation of intoxication.

Reckless Driving - Operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner, including speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and the like.

RID (Remove Intoxicated Drivers) - The nation's oldest national anti-DUI organization.

Rising Alcohol Defense - A legal defense for driving under the influence that argues blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at time of measurement is not indicative of what it was while the person was actually driving. Alcohol requires time after ingestion to enter a person's bloodstream, so a defendant's BAC may only have risen above the legal limit after the they were stopped by the officer and during the time the officer questioned them, ran identification checks, etc.

Sobriety Checkpoints - A procedure where by law enforcement officials select a particular location (usually a choke point such as a freeway onramp or offramp or tunnel access), stop vehicles, ask drivers questions pertaining to alcohol consumption, follow-up with any drivers suspected to be impaired. Sobriety checkpoints are most often conducted during peak holiday drinking periods.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests - A subset of Field Sobriety Tests that include One Leg Stand Test, the Walk and Turn Test and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. Protocols for these tests were developed by a private lab with funding from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA has more information on their website about Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.

Zero Tolerance - Philosophy that any detectable amount of alcohol creates an infraction. Zero tolerance in driving is most often applied in circumstances where drinking alcohol itself is prohibited such as for minors or countries with prohibition.







DUI Glossary. Definition of terms associated with driving under the influence

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