Glossary - Driving While Intoxicated

Dallas DWI Attorney Glossary

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DUI Glossary

Absorption Rate –The rate in which alcohol finds its way into the bloodstream. These rates are affected by personal metabolism, recent food ingestion and the type of beverage consumed.

Administrative License Revocation –A law allowing for immediate revocation of the license from a person arrested for drunk driving. Note that the suspect does not have to be found guilty for this law to apply.

Alcohol Equivalence –The comparison of the relative contents of different alcoholic beverages to one another. For example, one twelve ounce beer, one five ounce glass of wine and a one ounce shot of liquor generally have similar amounts of alcohol in them.

Alcohol Gaze Nystagmus –When eyes gaze or fixate upon an object because of alcohol ingestion.

BAC –Blood Alcohol Concentration. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol in an individual’s system and is measured in percentages. BAC can be measured with breath, urine or blood tests and will evaluate whether a person is or is not above the legal limit of intoxication for driving. All 50 states have a law requiring the BAC to be below 0.08%.

BAC Calculator –A pre-emptive calculation based on body weight, number of drinks ingested and hours spent drinking to determine the relative BAC of the person in question. These calculators are not always accurate, but are a good starting guide to understand intoxication levels.

BAL –Blood Alcohol Level. BAL can be measured with breath, urine or blood tests and will determine whether a person is above the legal limit of intoxication for driving.

Blood Test–A laboratory test directly measuring the BAC of blood drawn from a DUI suspect. These tests can also be used to test if the driver was under the influence of narcotics.

Breath Test –A test to determine the BAC of a suspected drunk driver. These tests generally involve the use of a Breathalyzer machine to calculate the alcohol fumes on a person’s breath. To get accurate results, the person being tested must provide breath from deep in the lungs and must not have recently regurgitated. These tests cannot check for narcotic intoxication levels.

Breathalyzer –A tool used to test the breath of a DUI suspect.

Burnoff –The rate in which the body metabolizes alcohol. Burnoff causes the BAC to drop.

Commercial Vehicle –A vehicle used for commercial purposes, such as a semi truck. Drivers licensed to operate commercial vehicles face additional penalties when found to be driving under the influence.

Dram Shop Liability –The legal responsibility of a bar or other establishment that serves alcohol to discontinue serving drinks to drunks or minors. In Texas, a bar can only be held responsible if they served alcohol to a minor or to someone so intoxicated they have presented themselves to be a danger to themselves or others.

DUI –Driving Under the Influence. This can apply to both drug and alcohol influence.

DUI School –A series of classes to teach drunk drivers why DUIs are illegal and how to prevent them in the future.

DUID –Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.

DUII –Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant. This can apply to both drug and alcohol influences.

DUIL –Driving Under the Influence of Liquor.

DWAI –Driving While Abilities are Impaired.

DWI –Driving While Intoxicated. This can apply to both drug and alcohol influence.

DWUI –Driving While Under the Influence. This can apply to both drug and alcohol influence.

Enhancements –Factors that can increase the punishments in a DUI trial. For example, having an open container when pulled over for driving under the influence can greatly increase the jail time served by the person arrested.

Expungement –A type of case in which a lawyer will seek to get his or her defendant’s criminal record sealed or destroyed to protect the client’s good name. This is a common tactic for juvenile crimes, to prevent the crimes from haunting the youth into adulthood.

Felony DUI –In Texas, DUI charges for minors and third time DUI offenses are felony charges.

Field Sobriety Test –A series of physical and mental tests to establish if a driver is driving under the influence. There are multiple tests that an officer can include in a field sobriety test, however, only three tests have proven effective and will hold up in court: the one legged stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. These tests have limited effectiveness in determining narcotics use. If a driver fails a field sobriety test, they still must take and fail a chemical test to be convicted of a DUI.

Habitual Offender –A person repeatedly caught breaking the law. Habitual DUI offenders generally face very strict sentences.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus –A test to see how the eyes move in a suspect of DUI. This is one of the three standard Field Sobriety Tests. This test is evaluated by a lack of smooth eye movement and by eye jerks.

Ignition Interlock Device –An in-car alcohol breath screening device that will prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects a BAC above 0.02%. After a second DUI conviction, a defendant will have to have one of these installed in their vehicle during a probationary period.

Impairment - Having alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances in a person’s system that disturbs normal mental or physical faculties.

Implied Consent –A law that declares a person to have already consented to a chemical test for their BAC once they sign for a driver’s license.

Intoxication - Having alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances in a person’s system that disturbs normal mental or physical faculties.

Jerk Nystagmus –When the eye drifts slowly away from the target of focus and then quickly corrects itself back to the target.

MADD –Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one of the largest anti-DUI groups in the country.

Misdemeanor DUI –In Texas, your first two DUI convictions are misdemeanors. This means your first DUI will leave you without a jail sentence and can cost you no more than $500, assuming you have no enhancements to the charge.

Motions –When a lawyer requests something from the court. This includes motions to dismiss cases, motions to suppress evidence and more.

National College of DUI Defense –A non-profit group dedicated to the improvement of DUI defense law.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration –The federal agency most involved with DUI issues. NHTSA is part of the Department of Transportation. The agency seeks to study DUIs, deliver statistics related to DUIs, educate the public about DUIs and develop new tests to evaluate the intoxication of drivers.

Nystagmus –Rapid, involuntary eye movement, where eyes move quickly in one direction and slowly in the other.

OMVI –Operating a Moving Vehicle while Intoxicated. This can apply to both drug and alcohol influence.

One-Leg-Stand test –A test that requires the subject to stand on one leg, look at his or her foot and count out loud. This is one of only three acceptably accurate tests for intoxication that occur in the standardized field sobriety test.

Open Container Laws –Laws that determine the legality associated with having an open alcohol container in the vehicle. Texas law specifies a driver can receive a citation for having an alcoholic container in the vehicle. If a DUI suspect also has an open alcohol container in their car, the minimum jail sentence is raised from 72 hours to six days.

OUI –Operating Under the Influence. This can also refer to driving under the influence of narcotics.

OUIL –Operating Under the Influence of Liquor.

OWI –Operating While Intoxicated. This can also refer to driving under the influence of narcotics.

Per Se Laws –The legal standard that says a person driving with a BAC above 0.08% is considered a drunk driver, no matter what their physical or mental state.

Probation –When jail time is suspended for good behavior. Jail time may be reinstated if any violations in the probation agreement are found. You may qualify for probation if you have had no prior felony convictions.

Provisional License –A restrictive driver’s license that withholds multiple driving privileges, such as times and areas a driver is allowed to be on the road.

Reasonable Doubt –Doubt based on reason and common sense. A jury cannot convict a defendant unless they cannot express a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt.

Reckless Driving –Operating a vehicle in a dangerous manner, such as excessive speed or weaving through lanes, etc.

Regurgitation –Ejection of stomach contents into the mouth or throat. This can include belching or vomiting. Regurgitation can make a breathalyzer test appear to be much higher than the driver’s actual BAC.

Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) –The Nation’s oldest anti-DUI organization.

Retrograde extrapolation –The ability to look at someone’s alcohol intoxication level at the time of testing and calculate the alcohol level at the time the person was driving.

Rising Alcohol Defense –A DUI defense that claims a driver was not above the limit when driving, but that it rose above that in the time the driver was being arrested, due to alcohol absorption.

Smooth Pursuit –The eye’s course as it follows an image that is moving.

Sobriety Checkpoints –A systematic stopping point on a highway or other road, used by police officers to evaluate drivers for possible DUI violations. These checkpoints are most common on holidays, such as New Years Eve and the Forth of July.

Southern California Research Institute –A research group that helped develop the standardized field sobriety test and evaluated the effectiveness of the tests. The group has also worked on developing a standard testing method for drug use.

Standardized Field Sobriety Test –A set of three field sobriety tests that are considered to be the most accurate and effective in evaluating if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. These tests do not accurately evaluate if the driver is using a narcotic. The three “standard” tests are the one leg stand test, the walk and turn test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Under the Influence –The inability of a driver to operate a vehicle due to alcohol or drug use.

Urine Test –A laboratory test performed on a subject’s urine to determine the BAC of the individual. This test is effective in determining if a driver has been under the effects of narcotics, however, the results for alcohol consumption are frequently inaccurate due to higher alcohol urine from earlier in the evening mixing with lower alcohol urine from later in the night.

Vehicle – In Texas, a vehicle can mean practically any mode of transportation, including, cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, bikes, scooters, even horses.

Voir Dire –Jury selection. During this period, both the judge and the attorneys will ask potential jurors questions about their background. This step is crucial in ensuring the defense and the prosecution have a fair, unbalanced jury to hear the case.

Walk-and-Turn test –A test in which a person must walk heel to toe in a straight line, turn and then walk back in the same manner. This tests the suspect’s balance and listening abilities.

Zero Tolerance –A policy prohibiting alcohol abuse by minors. All minors with a BAC above 0.00% are considered to be driving under the influence.

Read more about Field Sobriety Tests

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