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California DUI Glossary


Here is a glossary of common California DUI and drunk driving terms regarding Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs charges.

To discuss your DUI case, contact Artz & Sturm Law Group. The team is recognized by many judges and prosecutors as the best DUI attorneys in Los Angeles. Their extensive experience and “creative sentencing” tactics help keep more than 99% of clients out of jail.

Absorption Rate

The rate at which consumed alcohol finds its way into the blood stream. While alcohol sits in the stomach, its absorption is delayed. Absorption rate will be affected by how much was eaten, individual biologic differences, and what type of beverage was consumed. When drinking continues over a course of hours, both absorption and “burnoff” (metabolizing of alcohol) will be happening simultaneously.

Administrative License Suspension

A law that allows the prompt suspension of a motorist’s driver’s license if arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and having a BAC above the prescribed limit of 0.08%, or if a driver refuses to take a chemical test

ALS (Administrative License Suspension)

A California law that allows the prompt suspension of the driver’s license of a driver charged with DUI, even before the DUI charge has been proven in court (adjudicated).

APS (Administrative Per Se)

In California, there are two separate cases that arise from a single drunk driving arrest: 1) the criminal case in court; and 2) the Administrative Per Se, or APS case, with the DMV. In cases where someone is arrested for DUI or a related alcohol charge, and gives a breath or blood test with results that are above the legal limit (0.08%), or refuses a test, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will take an administrative action against the driver. In California, you have ten (10) days in which to request a hearing to contest the APS action from the date you were arrested (or served with “notice of suspension”). Thus, it is important to contact a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney soon after an arrest.

BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration)

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream, and is used to determine the intoxication of an individual. It is measured as a percentage of alcohol in the blood by weight, and can be determined by testing breath or blood.


When alcohol is entering the system. During this period of time, one’s B.A.C. is rising.

Blood Test

A laboratory test that measures the percentage of alcohol content of the blood drawn from a DWI suspect.

Breath Test

A test that is derived from measuring the alcohol level of the suspect’s breath to produce a BAC. It depends for its accuracy on the machine’s receiving air from deep in the lungs, and a mathematical formula is used to extrapolate the blood alcohol level from the lung-air alcohol level.


A machine used by law enforcement to measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of suspected drunk drivers from a breath sample.

Burnoff Rate

The rate at which alcohol in the body is metabolized. During burnoff, the blood alcohol level drops from a peak level at an approximate amount of .02% per hour.

Chemical Test

As it relates to DUI, a test of the alcohol (or drug) concentration in a person’s blood, a breath machine or blood analysis can be used to attempt to gauge BAC. If other drugs are suspected, a blood test or urine test is used.

Community Labor

Depending on the offense and its severity, the prosecutor may offer community service as part of your conviction and/or probation. Examples include living at home and reporting during the day to pick up trash, sweep public buildings, assist community charitable or public oriented organizations, or perform other services to the community.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

In California this is the act of operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or other drugs to the extent that your mental and/or motor skills are impaired. Driving under the influence (of alcohol or other drugs) is a criminal offense.

DUI Alcohol Program

If convicted of DUI, the court will order an alcohol education programs designed to help you realize how dangerous drinking and driving is and hopefully to ensure that you are not a repeat offender. Here is a list of California approved DUI schools.


Driving While Intoxicated. Another term for DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs), used more commonly outside of California.


A serious crime, such as murder, rape or burglary, for which a stricter sentence is given than for a misdemeanor. Many states treat DUIs that cause serious bodily injury as a felony. If California elevates DUI to felony status even without an injury or death, if the suspect has three prior DUI convictions. A felony can result in a sentence to state prison instead of county jail. If you’ve been charged with a felony, contact Los Angeles felony DUI defense attorneys Artz and Sturm to discuss your case.

FST(Field Sobriety Test)

A series of physical coordination tests designed to help an officer decide if a driver is DUI. These may include walking a straight line, standing on one foot, etc. These are highly subjective, and do not correlate to impairment for the purpose of driving. If the officer concludes the driver is DUI, he will require a BA test. California will penalize a refusal to take a Blood Alcohol Test with a license suspension.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

An ignition interlock device is a mini Breathalyzer machine installed in cars to prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a certain pre-set limit. The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver’s seat, and is connected to the engine’s ignition system. Los Angeles county requires such a device for 5 months for a first offense and 1 year for a second offense.

Implied Consent Laws

In states like California, having a driver’s license means that you consent to chemical testing of your blood alcohol levels if arrested for DUI. Per California Vehicle Code (VC) 23612, any person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given consent to chemical testing of blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153.

License Suspension

In California, your driver’s license can be taken and driving privileges suspended even before a trial or conviction of a DUI for either scoring .08% or higher or refusing a chemical test. A license suspension means you may not drive for the period of your suspension. Driving privileges in California are administered by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV), not the court system. You, or your Los Angeles DUI lawyer on your behalf, may be able to negotiate a limited suspension, meaning you may drive to and from work, but nowhere else.

License Revocation

A license revocation means your driving privileges have been cancelled. You will need to reapply for a driver’s license after a designated length of time.

Miranda Rights

The formal advisement that you have the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present before answering questions, which police must recite prior to questioning someone who is in custody. These are seldom relevant to DUI cases because the police never arrest anyone until after questioning and some form of testing for intoxication. Nevertheless, you have the right not to answer questions such as, “How much have you had to drink?”


A misdemeanor is a crime considered less serious than a felony. These crimes may result in the loss of privileges such as professional licenses or public employment.

Open Container Laws

In California, these laws make it illegal to have or drink from an open container of alcohol in designated areas. This law most commonly applies to having alcohol in vehicles.

PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) Test

A P.A.S. or “Preliminary Alcohol Screening” test is a breath test to help the officer decide whether to arrest you for DUI. Per California Vehicle Code §23612, you are not required to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, even if requested to do so by an officer.

Probable Cause

In order to stop or detain you, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is taking place. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. And per landmark Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio (1968), an officer must provide “specific articulable facts” that a crime is or was taking place before s/he can initiate a traffic stop. DUI checkpoints in Los Angeles can be a violation of probable cause, and many DUI defense attorneys can help protect you if you’ve been charged as a result of entering a Los Angeles DUI checkpoint.


In California, when you are convicted of a crime such as DUI, the judge will place you on probation. Jail time may be reinstated if it is found that the terms of probation have been violated.

Restricted License

In regards to a DUI, a restricted driver’s license might be granted to someone to drive to and from work and to and from a court-ordered DUI program only. If you’ve been charged and your license has been suspended, your DUI lawyer may be able to help you obtain a restricted license so that you can continue to drive to work.

Sobriety Checkpoint

Los Angeles DUI checkpoint roadblocks are set up by law enforcement officers at a particular location for a certain time period, usually late at night or early in the morning on weekends, to randomly stop vehicles to investigate drivers for possible DUI and valid license checks. If the officer believes the driver may be intoxicated, an investigation follows, the same as if they would have stopped you driving for some violation of law.

Urine Test

A laboratory chemical test of a DUI suspect’s urine to estimate the suspect’s blood alcohol (BAC) level. Tests can be inaccurate because of the mixing of higher alcohol level urine from earlier with lower alcohol level urine closer to the time the driver is pulled over, thus giving an artificially high reading. If you’ve submitted to a urine test related to your DUI charges, make sure you hire the best DUI attorney in Los Angeles who knows how to defend you.