DUI Terms and Definitions

Knowledgeable Phoenix Attorney Representing Drivers Charged With DUI DUI Terms and Definitions

There are numerous DUI terms and definitions that you should understand if you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many of these terms may have a significant impact on your case, but they may result in confusion if you are trying to understand the nature and consequences of the charges that you are facing. Phoenix DUI lawyer James E. Novak knows that Arizona takes DUIs quite seriously, and this is reflected in the terms used in connection with DUI charges, convictions, and sentencing.

DUI Terms and Definitions

Absorption Rate The rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream is known as the absorption rate. This may be affected by numerous factors, the most important of which are your weight, your gender, the number of drinks that you had, how fast you are drinking, and the type of beverage.

Administrative License Suspension Your license may be suspended either because you violated the implied consent law or because your blood alcohol content was above .08 (or another level if you are under 21 years old or a commercial vehicle driver). This is a civil penalty, but you may fight it by requesting a hearing within 15 days.

Aggravated DUI You may be charged with an aggravated DUI if you are caught driving under the influence, and either you are driving with a suspended driver's license within seven years of two prior DUIs, or you have a passenger who is 15 years old or younger. Unlike most DUIs, an aggravated DUI is charged as a felony, and mandatory prison time is imposed for a conviction.

BAC BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration. Law enforcement officers may ask to check your BAC by administering a chemical test (involving breath, blood, or urine). It is unlawful to drive with a .08 BAC or higher, but you may be charged with a DUI even if you are impaired to the "slightest degree," and your BAC is lower.

Blood Test A blood test is a laboratory test that measures your BAC. Certain procedures must be followed to get an accurate test result. In some cases, your attorney may attack the results of a blood test to raise a reasonable doubt.

Breath Test Breath tests measure the alcohol on your breath. They must get air from deep in the lungs, and then the blood alcohol level is extrapolated from that. These tests must be properly calibrated, and in some cases, your attorney may attack the results of a breath test to raise a reasonable doubt.

DUI DUI stands for driving under the influence.

Extreme DUI You may face Extreme DUI charges if your BAC was .15 -.20 within two hours of being in control of a vehicle. The minimum jail term for a first offense is 30 days.

Felony Crimes in Arizona are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious, and they are categorized by degrees according to how serious they are. Generally, first-degree felonies are the most serious type of felony, while sixth-degree felonies are the least serious. Serious penalties may be imposed if you are charged with a felony DUI.

FST (Field Sobriety Test) Field sobriety tests are physical and mental coordination tests that are designed to assist an officer who is trying to decide whether a driver has been driving under the influence. FSTs may involve walking in a straight line, standing on one foot, or reciting the alphabet. These are voluntary and subjective tests that you may refuse to perform in Arizona. Without these test results, or if the test was administered improperly, an officer may not have probable cause to arrest you or require a chemical test.

Ignition Interlock Device Ignition interlock devices are screening devices that you may be required to install near the driver's seat if you are convicted of a DUI in Arizona. It stops you from being able to start your car if it detects that you have a BAC over .02.

Implied Consent Laws Under section 28-1321, someone who operates a motor vehicle in Arizona gives implied consent to a test of bodily substances for the purpose of determining their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when arrested for any offense arising out of DUI-related acts alleged to be committed. If you refuse to take this test, you will receive an automatic 12-month suspension, and in most cases, the police can get a warrant to take a blood sample.

Intoxilyzer The Intoxilyzer is a type of blood alcohol breath testing machine.

License Revocation A license revocation is a cancellation of your driving privileges that must be imposed for certain offenses.

License Suspension A license suspension suspends your license for a certain period of time. In Arizona, you may request an administrative license suspension hearing within 15 days of getting notice. The State must prove that you failed a chemical test or that you violated the implied consent law by a preponderance of the evidence. Your attorney may be able to fight the charges or negotiate a limited suspension.

Miranda Rights Under the Fifth Amendment, you are supposed to be advised of your right to remain silent and have a lawyer before answering questions while in custody by the police before they conduct a custodial interrogation. These are known as Miranda rights.

Misdemeanor Misdemeanors are crimes that result in less serious penalties than felonies. Often, DUIs in Arizona are charged as misdemeanors.

PBT (Preliminary Breath Test) This is a portable machine that is carried by law enforcement to measure BAC. Unlike the breath testing administered after an arrest, you need not submit to a PBT. Refusing to submit to a post-arrest breath test results in an automatic 12-month license suspension.

Probable Cause Probable cause is the standard for a law enforcement officer to make an arrest for DUI. It is a reasonable belief that a crime has taken place. Police may use their observations, witness statements, a preliminary breath test, or field sobriety tests to get the probable cause necessary to make an arrest. If there is no probable cause to arrest you, your lawyer can try to get any evidence obtained after that point suppressed.

Probation Probation occurs when part or all of the required incarceration for a DUI is suspended for good behavior. During probation, you need to check in with a probation officer, who will be checking to make sure that you are not violating the terms of your probation.

Provisional (or Restricted) License A provisional license restricts where you may drive and for which purpose after your license has been suspended for a DUI or implied consent violation.

Reasonable suspicion "Reasonable suspicion" is the standard that must be met for a law enforcement officer to stop you. The reasonable suspicion must be something more than a hunch. It need not be a reasonable suspicion that you were drunk and driving but simply that some sort of crime had taken place, was taking place, or was about to take place. If an officer does not have a reasonable suspicion for stopping you, your lawyer may attack any evidence obtained after the stop.

Regurgitation When administering a breath test, officers are required to watch you to ensure that you do not regurgitate or burp before the test. These actions may result in a breath test that has a higher BAC than what is accurate. If you regurgitated before your breath test, we may be able to attack the results of the test and either get the evidence suppressed or establish a reasonable doubt before a jury.

Rising Curve Defense Alcohol continues to be absorbed into your bloodstream over time, and in some cases, you may get a higher BAC result from a chemical test if there was a long delay between your driving and taking the test. The rising curve defense is based on the idea that you did not have a .08 BAC while driving but only long afterward when the test was being administered.

Super Extreme DUI Super Extreme DUI is charged when a driver's BAC is .20 or above. This is still a misdemeanor, but the minimum jail term is 45 days, and most prosecutors try to get more. You also face the possibility of a sentence that requires you to have an ignition interlock device installed for a minimum of 18 months and possibly longer.

Zero Tolerance BAC Arizona has a zero tolerance law for underage drivers (people under age 21). An underage person may be charged and convicted for having any amount of alcohol content above 0.00, or any amount of drugs, in their system.

Consult a DUI Defense Lawyer in the Phoenix Area

It may be challenging for drivers charged with DUI to follow what is happening with their case. However, it is important to understand DUI laws and the charges that are being brought so that you can try to avoid them in the future. Greater penalties likely will be imposed if you are charged with DUIs multiple times. If you are concerned about what you are hearing in connection with DUI charges being brought against you, Phoenix lawyer James Novak can help you understand the relevant DUI terms and definitions. Contact James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form for a free appointment. He represents people who need a drunk driving lawyer throughout the Phoenix area, including in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other communities in Maricopa County.

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