Dui Glossary

To help you better understand what is involved with your DUI, we have put together the following glossary of terms to help you feel informed and prepared. Additionally, Larry and his knowledgeable staff are always available to answer any questions you have along the way.

Administrative License Suspension (ALS) – A law that allows the immediate suspension of the license of drivers charged with driving under the influence (DUI). When a driver has aBAC of .08% or above, or refuses to take a blood or breath test, the license may be suspended even before the criminal hearing.

Arraignment – A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

BAC – An acronym for blood alcohol concentration, the percentage amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. California’s legal limit for DUI is .08% for those over 21 and 0% for minors.

Bail – Security given for the release of a criminal defendant from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his or her appearance on the day and time set by the court.

Bench Trial – Trial without a jury in which a judge decides which party prevails.

Breathalyzer – A portable machine used by law enforcement to measure the BAC of suspected drunk drivers through their breath. See Challenge the Breathalyzer.

Chemical Test – A test of the alcohol or drug concentration in a person’s blood or urine. A breathalyzer or blood analysis are used as chemical tests for alcohol in California. If other drugs are suspected, a blood test or urine test is used. Refusal to submit to a chemical test when arrested for DUI in California can result in a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.

Commercial Vehicle – A vehicle driven for business purposes. The DUI penalties in Los Angeles for those arrested while driving a commercial vehicle are more severe.

Community Service – Depending on the offense and its severity, the prosecutor or the Court may offer community service as a way to work off fines or as a part of your sentence.

Conviction – A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.

Counsel – Legal advice; a term also used to refer to the lawyers in a case.

Criminal Case – The portion of a DUI case that deals with whether or not you are guilty of the crime of driving under the influence.

DMV Hearing – An administrative proceeding conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles concerning the revocation of your driving privilege only.

DUI – The criminal charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In other states, this criminal charge is called DWI.

DUI School – Required for DUI offenders, these are drug and alcohol education programs designed to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving with the aim of preventing repeat offenses.

Felony – Crime punishable by prison. Punishment for some felonies (capital felonies) includes either life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Ignition Interlock Device – A breathalyzer device that is attached to the ignition system of a car that prevents the car from starting if it detects a BAC over a pre-set limit. In many cases, this is required for those convicted of DUI.

Implied Consent Laws – In California, having a state-issued driver’s license implies that you have consented to have your BAC tested by a police officer. Refusal may result in license suspension.

Jury – The group of persons selected to hear the evidence in a trial and render a verdict on matters of fact.

License Revocation – A license revocation means your driving privileges have been cancelled. You will likely need to apply for a new driver’s license after a specified length of time.

License Suspension – A license suspension means that you may not drive for a designated period of time. This suspension may be ordered by the DMV or as part of your criminal sentencing. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a limited suspension, meaning that you may drive to and from your school or place of employment only.

Misdemeanor – An offense or crime that is not a felony. Punishment for a misdemeanor is typically a fine or possibly jail time of less than 1 year.

Motor Vehicle – A motor vehicle is defined as a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land and not on rails. Examples of motor vehicles are automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, snowmobiles, golf carts, etc.

Open Container Laws – In California, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.

Negligent Manslaughter – The killing of one human being by another through gross negligence.

Nolo Contendere – No contest. A plea of nolo contendere has the same effect as a plea of guilty, as far as the criminal sentence is concerned, but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose.

Plea – In a criminal case, the defendant’s statement pleading “guilty” or “not guilty” in answer to the charges.

Plea Bargain – A negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge.

Probation – A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision of a probation officer, who makes certain that the defendant follows certain rules (e.g., gets a job, gets drug counseling, etc.).

Restricted License – A driver’s license with limited privileges. Often after a DUI, a restricted license allows a person to drive only to and from work or school.

Sentence – The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.

Sobriety Checkpoints – Roadblocks set up by law enforcement to systematically stop vehicles to investigate for possible DUI. If the officer notes any evidence of intoxication, a full investigation will follow.

Zero Tolerance BAC – The allowable BAC for minors driving a vehicle in California is 0%.

<< Back to the DUI Resource Center


Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (310) 277-1707.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Disclaimer: The felony, misdemeanor, traffic, criminal defense, drunk driving, DUI, theft, drugs, three strikes law, juvenile law, or other legal criminal defense information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results portrayed here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ if based on different facts.