Below is a useful DUI glossary which includes most terms you need to know when facing a DUI. If you have been charged with a DUI, call Ozols Law Firm today for a free consultation at 619-288-8357.
Absorption – This is a method where the alcohol is absorbed by the body. It starts in the tissues of the mouth and then goes to the intestines. Diffusion is what makes absorption occur.
Alcohol – Alcohol is a compound that is often in put into “alcoholic beverages”. It is a volatile substance, which means that it often starts as a liquid and is turned into a gas. The percentage of alcohol varies from each drink depending on whether it is beer, wine, or hard liquor. Alcohol can be detected from the blood or from the lungs.
Alcosensor – A type of Breathalyzer that is used to detect chemical reactions in alcohol. This type of Breathalyzer is seldom used in California and if used it would only be used for a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test.
Alphabet Test – The alphabet test is a field sobriety test that is used by law enforcement to judge whether they believe one is impaired or not. The test requires one to say the alphabet backwards without singing or rhyming.
Arraignment – The first court hearing. The arraignment is primary used to enter a guilty or not guilty plea and on felonies it is used to address the issue of bail.
BAC – Blood Alcohol Content. The legal limit in California is 0.08.
BAC Above .15 – VC Section 23578 says that if your BAC was above a 0.15 then the court can consider this vehicle code for additional punishment.
BAC Above .20 – If your BAC is above a .20 the court can also consider this as a special allegation for additional punishment. This could include longer DUI classes, public work service and possibly jail time.
Breathalyzer – The breathalyzer is a device used to calculate the BAC of an individual. The breathalyzer calculates the level of alcohol in the breath and through calculations it is able to tell what it believes is the level of alcohol in the blood.
Calibration – Calibration is a process that needs to be done on breath and blood testing machines. The breath machines must be calibrated every 150 blows into the machine. Someone who is trained in calibration must do the process and every part of the process must be signed and dated. For blood, there are many different working parts to the blood testing machine and each one needs to be properly calibrated. The most common is the “dry gas” and “wet gas” components which need to be calibrated depending on their PSI levels.
Community Service – Community service is an alternative to custody that can be done in San Diego County. On certain cases a skilled DUI attorney will be able to work out types of community service instead of straight jail time.
CPAC – CPAC is an electronic monitoring device that is ran by the San Diego Sherriff’s Department. The way CPAC works is when one is sentenced to custody they will report to the jail on that day and if CPAC has been authorized they will put on the ankle bracelet and be free to go. This program also includes alcohol monitoring as well and GPS monitoring where in some cases individuals are only allowed to go to work. In 2014 the cost of CPAC was around 7$ per day.
Custody – Another word for jail or incarceration.
DUI – Driving Under the Influence. VC 23152 (a), VC 23152 (b), and VC 25153 are the most common charges for DUI in California. VC 23152 (a) represents the “under the influence” count. This count means that the driver was impaired at the time of driving. Technically one can be convicted of this count if they are below a 0.08. VC 23152 (b) is driving above a 0.08. VC 23153 is a felony DUI, which means that a DUI has occurred where there is an injury to another party who was not an accomplice to the offense.
DUI classes – The state of California Department of Motor Vehicles mandates DUI classes when one has been convicted of a DUI. There are 3, 6, 9 and 18-month classes. The 3, 6 and 9-month classes are called the First Conviction Program and are designated for people who have gotten a first time DUI. The 9-month class is designated for someone who blew above a .20. The 18-month class is called Multiple Conviction Program and is designated for people who have been convicted of more than one DUI.
DMV Hearing – A DMV hearing, also known as a administrative per se hearing is an action taken by the department of motor vehicles in order to suspended a driver’s license. The DMV are the ones that give out a driver’s license so therefore they are the ones that have the right to take it away. Because the DMV is a government agency this means that every individual has a right to due process and has a right to a hearing on having their property (their license) taken away. The DMV hearings do not follow the rules of the court. They allow hearsay from officers and also have very low standards of proof. The issues in a DMV hearing are: 1) was there reasonable suspicion for the stop 2) was the individual driving the vehicle and 3) was the individual at or above 0.08 at the time of driving.
Elimination Rate – Elimination Rate is the rate the alcohol eliminates from the body. It can be done by breathing, urinating, defecating or just naturally dissipate through time.
Electronic Monitoring – This is an alternative to custody where one puts on an ankle bracelet instead of going to jail.
Expert Witness – An expert witness is a witness that comes to testify at trial for the prosecution or the defense. DUIs are a very scientific type of law and it is very important to have an expert in their craft that can explain all of the DUI nuances to a jury.
Field Sobriety Tests – “FSTs” are the tests that the police officers use to assess whether an individual is under the influence.
Great Bodily Injury – VC 12022.7 is the vehicle code for great bodily injury. Great bodily injury is defined in the California Criminal Jury Instructions as “significant or substantial physical injury… It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm”. This definition is quite broad and case law has defined its scope. People v. Escobar 3. Cal.4th 740 is a recent 1992 case that discusses current decisions on great bodily injury.
Intoxilyzer – An intoxilyzer is an electrochemical and infrared breathalyzer that is most commonly used in the County of San Diego.
Interlock Ignition Device – Also known as an “IID”, this device is put into vehicles for people who have been convicted of drunk driving offenses. The term can be from 1-3 years. The IID can cost around $1500 just for the installation and then monthly fees to maintain the machine. It makes a driver blow into the device every time they start the car and then around every 30 minutes when they are driving after that. In 2014 the City Attorney’s office of San Diego imposed a policy where they would impose an IID for every person who drove under the influence at or above a 0.15. The City Attorney’s office is the only prosecuting agency in San Diego at this time that uses this standard for imposition of an IID.
Implied Consent – VC 23612 explains implied consent. In summary, the code basically says that when one gets their driver’s license, they are consenting to do a breath or blood test if they are suspected to be under the influence. If they refuse this test, the courts will treat it as a refusal, which is a violation of VC 23577.
Miranda Warnings – Most people have probably heard Miranda warnings before. On television they often recite Miranda warnings after an arrest. For example “you have the right to remain silent” and “you have the right to an attorney.” Most people do not understand DUIs have a special exception regarding Miranda warnings. When someone is pulled over for e DUI, the officer is allowed to ask questions about what happened, what you may have been drinking and what you were doing that night. This is a way for the officer to determine whether to pursue an investigation. At Ozols Law Firm we commonly get calls saying “but I wasn’t read my Miranda rights so my case should be dismissed”. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are multiple ways to win a DUI case, but to have a case dismissed because of a lack of Miranda warnings is nearly impossible.
MVARS – The MVARS is a video recording device that is in an officer’s vehicle. This device can often document the reasonable suspicion for the stop and sometimes document the field sobriety tests. It can show the court whether the officer was being honest in his or her report.
Observation Period – The 15 minute observation period is required before an official breath test has been performed. The officer has to watch the individual for 15 minutes and make sure they don’t burp, vomit, smoke, eat or drink within that time.
Public Work Service – Public Work Service is an alternative to custody for a DUI. The “PWS” program is a type of community service where the individual picks up trash on the streets for 8 hours a day. In San Diego, if you are above a 0.15 then the court generally orders 5 days of public work service. If you are above a .20 then it can be 10 days. In 2014 in Vista, if there is an accident the judge often order an additional 5 days of public work service.
Probable Cause – Probable cause is the standard for an arrest. It is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. The courts have noted that there needs to be an objective violation of the law and not just a subjective interpretation of the law before an arrest has been made. (Taylor v. Department of Motor Vehicles, (1995) 36 Cal. App. 4th 812).
Partition Ration – The Partition Ratio is the ratio for breath alcohol to blood alcohol. The common ratio used in the state of California is 2100:1. The idea is that 2100 ml of alcohol in the breath in the lungs is equal to 1 ml of alcohol in the blood. This makes it possible to convert breath to blood in a BAC formula.
Preliminary Hearing – The preliminary hearing is a hearing done after the arraignment and at least one readiness conference. It is a time that the prosecutor needs to show that there is enough probable cause for this arrest and that the defendant should be bound over for trial. At a preliminary hearing the prosecutor calls witnesses including any officers or actual witnesses to a crime. They testify and the defense attorney is able to cross-examine them. In the end, both sides create an argument for the judge in order to prove their relevant positions. The preliminary hearing is a place where counts can be dismissed or reduced.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device – The “PAS” device is a breathalyzer used at the scene to determine the presence of alcohol and what one’s BAC is. This device has been deemed less reliable by the courts than other breathalyzer devices.
Radio Frequency Interference – Radio Frequency Interference, also known an “RFI” is interference that takes place when using the breathalyzer device. In the manual of all breathalyzer devices there is a warning that says do not use cell phones, or any other type of transmitting devices around the breathalyzer as it can produce an inaccurate result.
Readiness – A readiness conference on a DUI is a court appearance after arraignment where the prosecutor and the defense attorney sit down with a judge and try to resolve and settle a case.
Reasonable Suspicion – Reasonable suspicion is the standard that is needed to pull someone over in the US. Reasonable suspicion is more than just a hunch, it needs to be an actual articulable suspicion. An officer cannot just pull over an individual on random for a DUI, they need to actually see a violation of the law.
Restitution – Restitution is common in a DUI setting. This is the amount that needs to be paid back in order to make the individual or claiming party whole. Restitution can be in the form of land damage, vehicle damage or personal injuries.
Romberg Test – This is a field sobriety test used to determine whether someone is under the influence. During this test the individual tilts their head back and counts silently to 30. When they believe 30 seconds has elapsed then they tell the officer. The officer times the 30 seconds on a watch and then compares the time. Generally the legal community is in agreement that there is a margin of error of +/- 5 seconds on this test.
Suppression Motion – A suppression motion, also known as a “1538” in the state of California is a motion made to suppress evidence because there has been a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights.
SCRAM – SCRAM stands for “secure, continuous, remote, alcohol, monitoring”. It is a private company that provides ankle bracelets as an alternative to custody. This device monitors alcohol use through the skin and alerts the company if it detects any type of alcohol. SCRAM also vibrates every 30 minutes to remind the individual that the device is on and that they should not be drinking alcohol.
Trial – Trial is one of the last steps in the court process. At a jury trial there are 12 jurors who need to reach a unanimous verdict. Both sides present evidence and then the jury decides on guilt or innocence. The jury uses a beyond a reasonable doubt standard in a criminal trial.
Under the Influence – This is the term used in VC 23152 (a). The prosecution needs to prove one is under the influence in order to convict them of the above count.
Walk and Turn Test – This field sobriety test is one that the police use to asses whether one is under the influence. The suspect needs to walk on a line that can be real or imaginary. They need to take 9 steps forward, turn and pivot and take 9 steps back.
Wet Reckless – A wet reckless is governed by vehicle code 23103 per 23103.5. This penal code is a lesser-included offense to a DUI. Although most terms and conditions are the same, a “wet reckless” will generally be a shorter probationary term and be $1000 less in fines.