Los Angeles DUI Terminology

Car key next to a whiskey and a handcuff against a white backgroundMany drivers who have been charged with a driving under the influence offense have no previous experience in dealing with DUI cases and may be unfamiliar with much of the terminology that is used frequently in courts and in police reports. Judges, police and attorneys often use terms and concepts that are unique to this area of the law and it may be difficult to understand what is happening because of the use of unfamiliar terms. The following are just some of the more frequently-used terms and phrases in DUI cases.

1. Preliminary Alcohol Sensor (“PAS”) Test

During a DUI investigation, the officer will often ask the driver to provide a breath sample on his or her PAS test. The PAS is a portable breath testing device that can provide an numeric estimation of the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration. The PAS is optional for most drivers. Only drivers who are under the age of 21 and those who are already on probation for a DUI offense are required to take a PAS test when requested. PAS tests results alone cannot be relied on in court to prove a defendant’s BAC and drivers are required to take either a blood test or a breath test on the stationary Breathalyzer machine usually kept at the police station. PAS tests results can be useful in court, especially when making an argument regarding a driver’s rising blood alcohol level. PAS test results that are lower than the subsequent breath or blood test results may be used to show that the driver was experiencing a rising blood alcohol level and was actually under the .08 percent legal limit at the time that he or she was driving.

2. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”)

This is one of the field sobriety tests conducted by officers during DUI investigations. This test is conducted by having the test taker follow a fixed point with his or her eyes that is slowly moved to the periphery of the test taker’s vision. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will exhibit noticeable involuntary eye tremors when their eyes reach certain angles. This can be used as justification for arresting a driver for DUI.

3. Ignition Interlock Device (“IID)

This device is a relatively new development that can be installed into any automobile. The device requires the driver of a vehicle to provide an alcohol-free breath sample in order to start the car. The driver is required to periodically blow into the device while he or she is driving. In Los Angeles County, all drivers convicted of DUI are required to have an IID device installed into their vehicles as a result of the DMV’s IID Pilot Program. This program is testing the benefits of requiring IID installation for drivers convicted of DUI in each of the pilot counties.

4. Bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, odor of alcohol

In composing police reports, officers are asked to describe the driver’s symptoms of intoxication. In almost any DUI police report, terms such as bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol are used to describe these symptoms. Because officers are quick to use these overused phrases in their incident reports, it is often critical to compare the officer’s written reports with video or audio evidence that may have been collected.

If you have been charged with a DUI offense, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney immediately. Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly adept at helping his clients navigate this confusing and stressful area of the law.

For more information about Los Angeles DUI terminology, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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