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DUI Glossary

This California DUI Glossary defines many terms related to driving under the influence and California DUI law. The reader can search for the DUI phrase in the alphabetical listing. The information related to DUI terms and phrases is continually updated, so visit us often for the latest in drunk driving and driving under the influence news. This glossary of DUI terms is intended to be used by lay and professional people. You may learn the difference between the chemical tests used for measuring breath alcohol or blood alcohol level, such as breathalyzers, preliminary breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests.

I believe it is important for those accused of driving under the influence to gain an understanding of DUI terms like drivers license suspension, Per se law, sentencing, and DUI Penalties in order to better understand your case and in order to evaluate what you are being told by an attorney you are considering hiring or one who presently represents you.

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Mr. Tayac and the DUI investigators and experts working with him stand ready to help you or your family member. A member of the office is available to speak with you regarding the case any day of the week between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at 415-552-6000.

If you hire the Law Office of Robert Tayac, you will know that you have retained the services of the most knowledgeable and experienced DUI defense team.

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In addition to the definitions below, visit our page regarding The Legal Definition of Alcohol.

Absorption Rate

The absorption rate of alcohol (also termed rate of absorption) is the rate the body absorbs alcohol into the blood, distributes it throughout the body tissues and ultimately eliminates it from the body. After a person consumes a small amount of alcohol, (approximately 20%) is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Thereafter, the remaining alcohol is absorbed as it moves through the gastrointestinal tract with bulk of absorption occurring in the small intestine. The amount of alcohol which is not metabolized is excreted through the body's sweat, urine, breath and saliva.

The absorption rate of alcohol can be affected by a number of factors. Fat tissue absorbs alcohol more slowly than muscle. Therefore, individuals with more muscle will absorb alcohol faster, and there will be less alcohol circulating in the bloodstream. Due to the greater percetage of fat tissue in most women, it is not uncommon for a woman to experience more significant effects from drinking alcohol than a man of equal body weight.

Absorption rate may also be dependent upon a person's size, the metabolic rate, medication, carbonation and mood. Older drinkers may be especially vulnerable to alcohol due to their loss of muscle tissue as a body ages and accompanying slower metabolism.


Low blood sugar can be the result of a medical condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can result in a condition or state termed ketoacidosis, which causes an increased production of acetones in a person's breath. For people who suffer from diabetes, this increases their chances of giving a inaccurate reading on a breath alcohol test which is required if suspected of driving under the influence in California. In borderline cases, the risk exists that if a person whose body has created acetone they may regester an unlawful blood alcohol level from a breath test even though they may not be impaired.

It is estimated approximately one in seven people may be diabetic and as a result many drivers may have an increased chance of a false arrest based on a false Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reading. Drivers who suffer from hypoglycemia may also display a variety of symptoms which may be misinterpreted as impairment, including sweating, trembling, hunger, nervousness, palpitations and difficulty speaking.

Administrative License Suspension

California DUI law requires the immediate license suspension for any California licensed driver over the age of 21 who provides a breath or blood test which yields a result of 0.08%. In 1990, the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit and administrative license suspension laws were implemented in California and were expected to reduce the incidence of drunk driving. The administrative license suspension law imposes an immediate driver license suspension on DUI offenders whose BAC was above the 0.08% legal limit. This administrative per se (APS) action allows the state to take quick action through a civil process taken independently of the criminal DUI charge.

The Administrative Per Se procedure allows the driver to request a DM Hearing within ten (10) calendar days of the California DUI arrest. If a DMV Hearing is not requested requested within ten (10) days, the driver's California driver's license will be suspended thirty (30) days from the date of the DUI arrest for a minimum of four (4) months on a first offense DUI case.

If the driver arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% has an out of state license, that person's privilege to drive in the State of California will be suspended thirty (30) days from the date of the DUI arrest for a minimum of four (4) months. The state which issued the driver's license may be notified through the Interstate Driver's License Compact and impose an additional penalty on the driver to whom the state issued a license.


A Person drives a vehicle when he or she intentionally causes it to move by exercising actual physical control over it. The person must cause the vehicle to move, but the movement may be slight. Convictions for driving under the influence have been upheld by appellate courts in cases where only circumstantial evidence of driving was present. For example, sufficient evidence of driving was found to exist where a car was found parked on a freeway, with the engine running, with a single occupant of a car sitting in the driver's seat with the engine running.


A driver is a person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle. Federal DUI cases do not require the element of driving.


A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.

Under the Influence

A person is under the influence if, as a result of drinking or consuming an alcoholic beverage and or taking a drug, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

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Attorney Robert Tayac Puts a Long, Decorated Career to Work for You
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  • Former San Francisco Police Officer & Police Inspector

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