DUI Terms

DUI Terms & Definitions Under Florida Criminal Law

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Administrative Review Hearing - A hearing at the DMV whereby the suspension of one's driver's license is challenged. There are many technicalities that can result in a driver's suspension of their license being overturned.

BAC - Breath alcohol concentration or blood alcohol concentration. In Florida a blood/breath alcohol level of .08% or above creates the presumption of impairment.

Commercial Vehicle - An automobile driven for work purposes. Certain commercial vehicles require a CDL license. Persons found to be operating such a vehicle while impaired are subject to the loss of this license in addition to their regular driver's license.

Community Control  and House Arrest

Community Service Hours - A first DUI conviction requires a minimum sentence of at least 50 community service hours. These hours are served as a public service and monitored by a probation officer. In certain circumstances a person pleading to or being found guilty of DUI may elect to buy out community service hours at a rate of $10 per hour is a successful argument is made by their defense attorney.

DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles.

DUI - Driving while under the influence of drugs. Note this is a slang term and not an actual term for a crime.

DUI School - A minimum mandatory sentence for a first DUI conviction requires one's attending a Level I DUI class. Enrollment into a Level I DUI school (but not completion) is required to obtain a hardship license prior to resolution of the DUI. Should one be convicted of DUI the completion of this class is required before a second hardship license is obtained.

Felony - A more serious crime than a misdemeanor such as a third DUI within ten years. A third degree felony is punishable by five years in prison. There are three degrees of felonies, first, second, and third.

Finger to Nose Exercise - A standardized field sobriety exercise whereby an individual must tilt their head back, close their eyes with their arms outstretched. The officer directs which hand to touch the individual's nose with and specifies that the subject extend their arm forward and place their finger directly onto their nose, following through by returning their arm and pointing the finger out in a straight line.

Hardship License - A restricted license allowing an individual to drive to and from work, to church, to see their attorney, to court, or to grocer shop. Note - there are other forms of driving which are allowed by a person holding a restricted hardship license. It is always best to check with your DUI attorney if you are ever unsure as to whether a certain type of driving is allowable.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus - a standardized field sobriety exercise whereby a jerking of the eye movement at an onset of 45 degrees may indicate impairment by alcohol. The results of such exercises are rarely admissible in trial. A qualified DUI attorney will move to suppress the results of this exercise.

Ignition Interlock Device - An interlock device is a mechanism whereby the driver of an automobile must blow into a chamber prior to starting their automobile. The device determines if the driver has consumed alcohol. Should this machine determine that the individual has, the automobile will not start.

Implied Consent Laws - Having a driver's license renders the licensee as having consented to submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content. Alternatively, a urine or blood test may be required if a police officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of narcotics.

Intoxilyzer 8000 - a machine commonly referred to as a "breathalyzer" which uses infra-red light which is shown through a breath sample collected in a chamber. The amount of light absorbed at a certain frequency by ethanol reduces its reception on the other end of said chamber. After a series of complex mathematical equations, arguably an accurate breath/blood alcohol level can be determined. A breath/blood alcohol level of .08% or above creates the presumption of impairment. Chemical tests, either a breath, blood or urine analysis used to determine the alcohol content in one's blood.

Minimum Mandatory Sentences - A DUI carries minimum mandatory sentences requiring the judge to at least impose minimum sentences. It is not within the judge's discretion to go below minimum mandatory guidelines set out by statute. A DUI conviction carries several minimum mandatory sentences.

Misdemeanor - Less serious than a felony, a misdemeanor is punishable by less than a year in jail (364 days). There are two degrees of misdemeanors, first degree and second degree. A first DUI conviction is a 1st degree misdemeanor.

One Leg Stand - A standardized field sobriety exercise whereby the DUI suspect must stand with one foot raised six inches off the ground for a period of 30 seconds while staring at their raised foot.

Open Container Laws - Florida makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while possessing an alcoholic beverage in an open container in your vehicle. Note that it is illegal for passengers as well.

Pace Clock - A law enforcement officer can determine one's speed by operating their patrol car at the same speed as the motorist being investigated for a traffic infraction. Careful maintenance records must be maintained which ensured that the patrol car used in the pace clock has a speedometer that is accurate.

Probation - A form of monitoring by the Department of Corrections. When a person is placed on probation they must adhere to numerous restrictions, including right to travel, right to use alcohol, and having to remain in constant communication and report to their assigned probation officer.

Sobriety Checkpoints - Otherwise known as road blocks. The constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints has been challenged and may only be implemented by law enforcement officers under strict guidelines.

Vehicle Impound/Immobilization - A first DUI conviction in Florida requires the immobilization of any vehicle owned by the defendant for a period of ten (10) days. A skilled DUI attorney may often have this condition of a DUI conviction waived.

Walk and Turn Exercise - A standardized field sobriety exercise where an individual must walk nine steps heal to toe and then make a turn utilizing a series of small steps. After making this turn they must walk back in the direction that they came from heal to toe for another nine steps. In certain circumstances, law enforcement officers use painted lane lines which are raised slightly, creating more difficulty in performing said exercise. A skilled DUI attorney will utilize this fact to the advantage of their client. The walk and turn test requires that the area well lit and free from debris.

Zero Tolerance - Pertaining to DUI zero tolerance laws call for the removal of minors from the road who have a blood alcohol level of as little as 0.02%. Note that for adults this amount of alcohol in one's blood stream creates the presumption of non-impairment.