DUI Glossary

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Absorption Rate:

The rate at which alcohol enters the blood stream; dependent on biological factors, type of alcohol consumed and food intake.


To hold someone in police custody, on account of suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC):

The amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream, expressed as a percentage and measured through a chemical test of breath, blood, urine or saliva. The legal limit in the United States is 0.08% of alcohol.


The brand name of a portable machine which a driver blows into to measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

Burn-off Rate:

The rate at which alcohol in the body is metabolized; this varies depending on age, weight, medical conditions, frequency of alcohol consumption and other factors.


A formal legal accusation that suspects one of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Pre-arranged roadblock locations where law enforcement officers are stationed to check drivers for signs of intoxication and impairment. The check must be performed under a neutral formula, such as every fourth car to drive through.

Chemical Test:

A test of one’s blood, breath, urine or saliva to measure BAC.


A formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense; the proof of guilt in a court of law.


Driving Under the Influence of alcohol intoxication, legal or illegal drugs, or toxic vapors. Otherwise known as “drunk driving.”


Driving Under Restraint, as in driving with the knowledge that one’s license is suspended, revoked, or denied.


Driving While Ability Impaired due to drugs or alcohol. In most cases, this results from a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08%–though it could apply even if the BAC was below 0.05. The term is unique to Colorado.


A restraint action taken when an individual does not hold a Colorado driver’s license.

Dram Shop or Dramshop:

A legal term for an establishment where alcoholic beverages are served or sold.

Dram Shop Liability:

The ability to hold dram shops responsible for harm to third parties because they continued the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons.

Early Reinstatement:

The ability to reinstate driving privileges ahead of the normal eligibility date if participation in an ignition-interlock program is approved.

Express Consent Law:

Operating a motor vehicle in Colorado means automatically granting consent to be administered a chemical test of BAC. Refusing to take the test will result in an automatic suspension of driving privileges for at least 60 days.

Field Sobriety Test:

A test of physical or mental coordination used to provide an initial assessment of sobriety. Field sobriety tests are usually performed roadside shortly after an officer stops a driver and may include: walking in a straight line heel-to-toe; tilting the head back with eyes closed and touching the tip of the nose with the index finger; standing on one foot; reciting the alphabet; finger exercises; and horizontal gaze nystagmus (jerking of eyes when following a stimulus to the side).

Heat is On:

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s high-visibility enforcement campaign that combines increased DUI patrols with strong public awareness outreach 12 times per year (usually during major holiday weekends).

Ignition Interlock:

A device installed in the vehicle to both perform a breath test, and to prevent the vehicle from starting if the test detects a BAC over the preset limit.

Miranda Rights:

The warning, which begins “You have the right to remain silent,” given by police to criminal suspects in police custody before they are interrogated so they do not violate their Fifth Amendment rights.

Open Container:

It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle or vehicle.

Per Se:

Regardless of whether there was any physical or mental manifestation of intoxication, or any impaired driving, a driver can be charged with a DUI as driving with a BAC in excess of 0.08% is illegal in itself

Permissible Inference:

This differs from “per se” in that it is an assumption based on a given set of facts. In terms of drugged driving, the limit of 5 nanograms of THC in the blood only suggests the driver was under the influence of one or more drugs; it does not confirm his impairment.

Probationary License (PBL):

A driver’s license with limited driving privileges, such as only for employment or school-related purposes. Also known as a “red license.”


A motion to throw out evidence that law enforcement lacked the proper legal justification to stop, search, or seize and was obtained in violation of your rights.

THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol):

The psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The legal driving limit in Colorado is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter in whole blood.

Vehicle Impoundment:

Confiscating and towing a vehicle to a police holding lot until it can be placed back in the control of the owner or otherwise dealt with.

Zero Tolerance:

Colorado law states drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.08% face an automatic revocation of their license.

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Criminal Practice Areas

Our Colorado lawyers aggressively defend your rights. Certain situations offer options such as evidence suppression, dismissal of the charges, or greatly reduced penalties, but only an experienced lawyer will be able to understand the circumstances surrounding your case fully. If you have prior charges or a felony on your record, it is especially important to contact a defense attorney promptly to seek advice and understand your case.

Driver’s License Revocations from DUI

A DUI arrest results in two separate legal proceedings against you: the criminal case and an administrative license revocation hearing through the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles. If your BAC is confirmed through chemical testing to be .08 or above, or if you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, you will be subject to a license revocation through a civil administration hearing.


Alcohol Related Driving Offenses

There are two different alcohol related offenses that can result from driving after you have consumed alcohol. Whether you are charged with one or the other depends on the amount of alcohol in your system. The charges are: “Driving While Ability Impaired” – DWAI and “Driving Under the Influence” – DUI.


Minor DUIs

The Colorado law firm, Thomas Law Firm, defends all types of DUIs, from drug related to alcohol impaired driving offenses. If you have been accused of driving under the influence for felony or misdemeanor charges, contact our DUI criminal defense lawyers at(720) 542-6148.


Injury Property Damage And Car Crash DUI

A car crash is a situation nobody wants to find themselves in, let alone be responsible for. In Denver, the penalties for these accidents include heightened insurance rates, fines, and, if alcohol was involved, legal repercussions including serious and potential felony DUI charges. When a drunk driver is involved in a car crash that leads to property damage or bodily injury, the penalties increase significantly.


DUI/DWAI for Commerical Drivers

Penalties for receiving a DUI are much harsher for commercial drivers and the consequences may reach far beyond losing your license and paying a fine. Commercial drivers are subject to stricter standards because their job requires them to operate vehicles that can contain toxic waste or precious cargo—it is a matter of public safety that these drivers be as safe as possible. Driving drunk while operating a company vehicle puts the company as well as the public-at-large at risk.


Marijuana DUIs

Recent changes to Colorado law have made it so it is now legal to possess and use marijuana. However, it is still a crime to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug. A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs will lead to the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol.