Traffic Law Glossary

Administrative License Suspension
Field Sobriety Tests
Alco Sensor
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Alcohol and Drug Evaluation (A&Ds)
First Offender Plea
Anti-Plea Bargaining Laws
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Graduated Licensing Program
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Habeas Corpus
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
Breathalyzer Tests
Implied Consent Warning (ICW)
Chemical Test
Previous Offense
Child Endangerment
Probation Revocation
Controlled Substance
Radar Gun
Distracted Driving
Ignition Interlock Device
Dram Shop Laws
Reckless Driving
Driving Record
Mandatory Suspendable Offenses
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Postconviction Relief
Drug Possession
Drug Scheduling
DUI “Per Se” Level
Nolo Contendere
DUI School (Risk Reduction)
DUI Task Force
Open Container Laws
Sobriety Checkpoint
Standard Drink
Super Speeder
Failure to Appear (FTA)
Work Release
Fake ID
Zero Tolerance

Accusation: Documentation containing individual or several charges (also known as “counts”) brought against an individual.

Administrative License Suspension: A process by which an individual can have his/her license suspended prior to going to court for a DUI.  In most states, an individual’s license can be administratively suspended if the individual registers above a certain BAC or refuses to submit to State Chemical testing.

Alcohol and Drug Evaluation (A&Ds): When a qualified alcohol evaluator determines whether an individual has a possible abuse problem.  Evaluation generally can take 1-3 hours and determined results can indicate whether an individual requires a 17-week program.  In Georgia, A&Ds are mandatory for all second and subsequent DUI convictions.

Alco Sensor: As a preliminary breath test, this type of breathalyzer is primarily used by officers actively in the field to determine and individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC).

Anti-Plea Bargaining Laws: An implemented law that prevents pleas that would lessen a defendant’s offense.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): The resulting qualitative amount of alcohol in an individual’s blood as proven by a chemical test; also known as blood alcohol concentration.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI): A traffic offense that applies to any individual operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol, or illegal substances (such as drugs), that registers outside the State’s legal limits.

Breathalyzer: Also known as “breath test,” this device assesses an individual’s blood alcohol content through the amount of alcohol present in the lungs.

Breathalyzer Tests:

  1. BAC Datamaster – Utilizes infrared spectroscopy to estimate an individual’s blood alcohol level.  It’s important to note this device is capable of making mistakes if not store properly or poorly calibrated.
  2. Breathalyzer – Analyzes a breath sample to estimate blood alcohol level.
  3. Intoxylizer – Utilizes infrared spectroscopy for estimating an individual’s blood alcohol level.
  4. Intoximeter – Generally uses a combination of fuel cell and infrared spectroscopy technology to gauge an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC).

Distracted Driving:
Considered the inattention of a driver due to diverting their focus away from the road.

Driving Record: Documentation that provides a history of infractions, suspensions and other pertinent information about an individual’s driving history.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Operating any vehicle (car, boat, etc.) while under the influence of alcohol or other illegal substances (drugs).

DUI “Per Se” Level: When an individual suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) documents a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher from a breath or blood test.  The result is an automatic charge for a DUI without the need for additional supporting factors to confirm guilt.

DUI Task Force: A specially trained group of police officers (often funded by State and Federal government grant money) with a focus on DUI detection.  Officers within these organizations focus primarily on drunk drivers.

DUI School (Risk Reduction): A mandatory 20-hour class that must be completed in order to obtain license reinstatement after a DUI license suspension.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): Sometimes referred to as driving while impaired, DWIs are violations given to individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance (drugs) while operating a vehicle (car, boat, etc.).

Chemical Test: By means of a breath, blood or urine test utilized to measure the amount of alcohol present in a person’s blood, chemical tests determine an individual’s level of intoxication.

Child Endangerment: When a child under the age of 14 is in a vehicle during the time of a traffic arrest; can result in violation enhanced sanctions and penalties.

Citation: A legal document issued to an individual charged with a violation.  Citations generally indicate a court date and charge placed against an individual.

Controlled Substance: State and Federal government regulations of a drug or chemical by means of production, custody and usage.

Dram Shop Laws: Holding a business that serves alcohol to an individual already deemed intoxicated responsible; should an accident or serious injury result, liability could be places on the business.

Drug Possession: A violation of having illegal drugs or apparatuses of illegal drugs within one’s possession for use, sale or production of illegal substances.

Drug Scheduling:  A classification system created by State and Federal governments to determine appropriate charges associated with drug possession.  The system is based on addiction potential, medically-approved uses and said effects on an individual.

Elimination: Considerable time it takes for an individual’s body to reduce the amount of alcohol in the blood.  It’s estimated that an individual’s metabolism is generally able to remove one drink per hour.

Expungement: An act whereby an individual’s criminal arrest is deleted; however, expungement is not available for a DUI arrest in most states.

Extrapolation: An estimation of an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at a specific point in time.  Age, weight, amount consumed, time spent drinking, etc. are factors taken into consideration.

Failure to Appear (FTA): When an individual fails to appear on a scheduled court date.  Consequences may include: a forfeit of any bonds to the court system, driver’s license suspension or revocation, or a warrant issue.

Fake ID:
Possessed identification falsifying that an individual who is under aged is over 21.  Associated penalties vary but include driver’s license suspension and under certain circumstances can be deemed a felony.

Felony: A crime that carries a penalty of a year or more in jail.  Mostly considered misdemeanors, DUIs in some states can be elevated to felony status in certain circumstances (ie. habitual offenses).  Any DUI-related fatalities are considered felonies.

Field Sobriety Tests:

  1. Standard Testing – Set of three tests including a horizontal gaze, walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand test.
  2. Divided Attention Testing – An evaluation where an individual must listen and follow instructions while performing basic physical movements (ie. the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests).
  3. Common Sobriety Testing – Tests generally used to determine probable cause of a DUI including simple tests like: counting, finger-to-nose, reciting the alphabet, standing on one leg, walking a line, walk-and-turn or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.

First Offender Plea: When a defendant “pleads” guilty and their case is dismissed after certain conditions of a defendant’s sentence has been completed.  Most states do not allow 1st offender on DUI cases, but do allow 1st offender on charges for drug possession.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR): A State department that has the authority to stop boaters when suspicious of boating under the influence (BUI).

Gore: Generally seen when entering a freeway, this “no passing zone” is marked by double yellow lines with additional lines in between.

Graduated Licensing Program: State mandated program that requires new drivers (typically teens) to complete a set number of practice driving hours before receiving a license as well as restrictions to the age and number of passengers they’re allowed to carry initially.

Habeas Corpus: A filed action that challenges the legality of a person’s incarceration.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): A field sobriety test sometimes used to determine DUI.  When an individual is impaired from drunk driving, the eye gaze (nystagmus) jerks or bounces and becomes more pronounced.

Implied Consent Warning: Before the State can request a chemic test of an individual’s blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance, ICW “right” must be read to a DUI suspect by the arresting officer (read generally from an orange colored card at the time of arrest).

Ignition Interlock Device: A cellphone-sized device that is installed in a vehicle and requires a driver to blow into the device.  If any traceable amount of alcohol is present, the car will not function.  These devices are mandatory in most states for offenders with multiple DUIs as well as first time offenders in most cases.

Mandatory Suspendable Offenses: For any individual convicted of the following traffic violations: vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, felony while operating a motor vehicle, unlawful/fraudulent use of a license or ID, driving on a suspended/revoked/cancelled license, racing, hit and run, or DUI, according to Georgia Code 40-5-54 the result is a mandatory license suspension.

Misdemeanor: Crimes punishable with a maximum one year jail sentence and a $1000 fine (generally includes DUIs).

Nolo Contendere: Meaning “no contest,” this form of plea occurs when an individual will not defend charges placed against them.  No contest generally doesn’t apply to DUI cases, however, if available, pleading “nolo” will almost always count as a DUI charge and accompanies license suspension and mandatory minimum punishment.

Open Container Laws: The prohibition of drinking alcohol inside a vehicle or in a public area.  Some states prohibit any individual in a vehicle to have open container while others prohibit the driver to have open container.

Paraphernalia: Term referring to an apparatus, invention or an object created/modified for the purpose of manufacturing, using or disguising illegal substances.

Postconviction Relief: 
The notion of reversing criminal please or pursuing expungement of an individual’s criminal record.

Previous Offense: A conviction of drug possession or DUI given to an individual prior to any current convictions, often causing harsher punishment.

Probation: In lieu of some or all jail time for a convicted offender, a judge can issue probation.  In order to maintain probation, an offender must not violate the law, must complete a required sentence and must report to a probation officer as instructed.

Probation Revocation: When an individual on probation fails to comply with a given sentence or violates any probation terms, probation can be revoked altogether by a judge and the probationer can be sentenced to jail.

Radar Gun: Device utilized by police officers to detect an individual driver’s speed.

Reckless Driving: Driving a vehicle without regard for the safety of other individuals.

Refusal: Denying to submit to either a chemical or breath test.  In most states, refusing chemical/breath tests result in immediate license suspension.

Retainer: A contract between a lawyer and a defendant that allows said lawyer to act on an individual’s behalf and represent said person in legal matters.

Sobriety Checkpoint: Checkpoints or road blocks temporarily set up by officers to evaluate drivers for alcohol consumption and intoxicated driving.

Standard Drink: A beverage that contains approximately 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol.

Super Speeder: For Georgia drivers, an individual convicted of speeding 85 miles per hour (mph) or more on interstates and 75 mph or more on two lane roads.  Individuals receive an additional fine of $200 from Driver’s Services and if fees are not paid within 90 days of notice then the individual’s license is suspended.

Work Release: A form of incarceration whereby an individual goes to work during the day and returns to jail at night.

Zero Tolerance: Law permitting penalties for those individuals under 21 years of age with small amounts of alcohol present in their system.