Know Your Drunk Driving Terminology

By: James Davis

DUI Field Sobriety and Chemical Tests

Field sobriety tests involve officers asking a driver to perform a set of exercises to assess any hindrance of the individual’s physical or cognitive ability.  These three below comprise the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST):

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN):  HGN is used to measure the involuntary jerking of the eye when gazing to the side.  When an individual is impaired with alcohol, nystagmus is exaggerated.  Though standardized in nature, this test is frequently inadmissible in court.

Walk and Turn Exercise:  Probably the most familiar sobriety test, the DUI suspect is asked to walk nine steps heel to toe, turn 180 degrees, and walk back another nine steps heel to toe.  Regularly, officers will ask the individual to walk along the painted road lines.

One-Leg Stand:  As it sounds, the individual must stand with one foot raised six inches from the ground for about 30 seconds.  The officer looks for signs of impairment in the swaying of balance, hopping, flailing of arms, etc.

In regards to chemical tests, there are three: breathalyzer, blood, or urine test.  These tests are to measure your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, which is on a scale of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.  Note that in the state of Florida, drivers do not have a choice in which chemical test they would like to take, but do have the option to take multiple tests.

Specific Laws and Charges

In every state in America, a BAC of .08% or higher is illegal for operating a motorized vehicle (that means cars, trucks, boats, and bikes) and will be charged with a DUI.  But along with this, the state of Florida has a number of alternate laws regarding drunk driving.

Zero Tolerance:  Drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC as little as .02% will be charged with a DUI in Florida.

Per se Intoxication:  State law considers any driver with BAC at or above .08% as legally or per se intoxicated.  That means no other further evidence of driver impairment (i.e. field sobriety tests) is needed for a DUI charge.

Implied Consent:  By having a driver’s license, the licensee has implicitly consented to agreeing to a chemical test to ascertain his or her BAC.  In turn, refusing a chemical test can hold additional penalties and fines.

Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC:  As it sounds, elevated penalties (fines, jail time, etc.) will be administered if individuals possess a BAC of .15% or higher while driving.

Punishments and Penalties

DUI convictions in Florida incur many of same criminal and administrative penalties as other offenses: jail time, fines, community service, etc.  The severity of these punishments are assessed on a case-specific basis, considering blood alcohol concentrations, repeat offenses, minor(s) in the vehicle, and other factors.  Though, there are certain repercussions which are particular to DUI convictions.

DUI School or Education:  The series of classes (and their completion) are required under Florida law to obtain a second license.  DUI School is mandatory for all offenders—even first time.

Ignition Interlock Device:  This device has a mechanism whereby drivers must blow into a chamber before staring his or her automobile to determine whether the individual has consumed any alcohol; if alcohol is detected, then the vehicle will not start.  Ignition interlock devices are mandatory for second offenders.

Hardship or Restricted Licenses:  These licenses restrict the movements of the driver to places such as only work, home, church, children’s school, etc.

Get Legal Consultation

DUI cases can be convoluted and difficult to fully comprehend.  Don’t let a DUI ruin your life!  Contact the Law Office of James Davis, a firm with vast experience in drunk driving cases.  The criminal attorneys here will assess your case, review your options, and put you back on the right track.

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