Drunk Driving Glossary of

Terms and Definitions

Anyone facing a drunk or drugged driving OWI DUI charge in Michigan will undoubtedly be exposed to a whole new language that is unfamiliar and confusing. In order to dispel some of the confusion, the following drunk driving glossary explains, in simple terms, some of the commonly used words, terms and phrases that may be encountered as you navigate through the complexities of the criminal process.


AHS: AHS stands for Administrative Hearings Section. Formerly known as the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD), the AHS has jurisdiction over a variety of driver’s license appeals.

APA: APA stands for assistant prosecuting attorney.

BAC: BAC is an acronym for bodily or blood alcohol concentration. A person’s BAC is expressed as grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Under the laws of the State of Michigan, it is illegal for a person 21 years of age or older to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher.

BrAC: BrAC is an acronym for breath alcohol concentration and is expressed as grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. Under the laws of the State of Michigan, it is illegal for a person 21 years of age or older to operate a motor vehicle with a BrAC of .08 or higher.

Breathalyzer: A breathalyzer is a testing device used by police officers to measure a person’s breath alcohol concentration.

CDL: CDL is an acronym for Commercial Driver’s License. Under the laws of the State of Michigan, vehicle operators with a CDL may not drive legally if their BAC is 0.04 or higher.

CMV: CMV is an acronym for commercial motor vehicle.

Chemical Test or CT: A chemical test (CT) refers to any test used to determine a person’s BAC, whether by breath, urine or blood.

Child Endangerment: Michigan law makes it a crime for an operator of a motor vehicle to transport a child under the age of 16 while intoxicated or with any amount of a controlled substance in the driver’s system.

CPL: CPL stands for Conforming Products List. The United States Department of Transportation develops rules and regulations with regard to alcohol testing and has compiled a list of devices that conform to regulatory mandates.

Defendant: The person who has been arrested, charged and prosecuted for a criminal offense such as operating while intoxicated.

Driver Responsibility Fees: Statutorily mandated fees imposed by the Secretary of State as a result of a conviction of specific qualifying offenses including drunk or drugged driving.

DUI: DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. It is used interchangeably with OWI or operating while intoxicated.

DWI: DWI is an acronym for driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated.

DWLS: DWLS stands for driving while license suspended. Under Michigan law, DWLS is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail as well as fines and court costs.

EBT: EBT is an acronym for evidential breath test and, in Michigan, refers to a test administered by the police on a DataMaster or DataMaster DMT testing device.

EtG: Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a metabolite of ethyl alcohol which is formed in the body by glucuronidation following exposure to ethanol, usually from drinking alcoholic beverages.

EtS: In addition to EtG, recent scientific studies have identified ethyl sulfate (EtS) as a second specific metabolite or biomarker of ethanol. For this reason, laboratories often test and report EtS, in conjunction with EtG, to confirm recent ethanol ingestion or exposure.

Expungement: Refers to the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Under Michigan law, a drunk driving charge cannot be expunged and remains on a person’s criminal record for life.

Felony DUI: A third and/or consecutive conviction of any alcohol and/or drug related driving offense in the State of Michigan. A third offense is a charged as a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Field Sobriety Tests: The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of three tests administered by a police officer to a suspected drunk driver to ascertain indicators of impairment and establish probable cause for arrest. The three tests of the SFST are: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and One-Leg Stand (OLS).

FOIA: FOIA is an abbreviation for Freedom of Information Act. Defense attorneys use requests under FOIA to acquire copies of relevant documents that pertain to the defense of a client’s case.

Gas Chromatography: Gas chromatography (GC) is the technique for separation and analysis of volatile compounds. GC is used in the laboratory to determine the BAC in a person’s blood.

Ignition Interlock Device: An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID and BAIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before a motor vehicle can be started, the driver must exhale into the device, which will detect the BrAC of the person. If the person’s BrAC is higher than the programmed limit, the vehicle will not start.

Implied Consent: Under Michigan’s Implied Consent Law, all licensed drivers are considered to have consented to take certain chemical tests at the request of a police officer when stopped and arrested for suspected drunk or drugged driving.

License Restoration: The process of restoring your driving privileges after a license suspension or revocation as a result of a drunk or drugged driving conviction.

License Suspension: A possible consequence of a drunk driving conviction that involves a temporary suspension of driving privileges.

License Revocation: A possible consequence of a drunk driving conviction that involves the loss (revocation/denial) of driving privileges.

Misdemeanor: A criminal offense that is punishable by incarceration in the county jail.

MIP: MIP stands for minor in possession. Michigan law prohibits persons under 21 from knowingly transporting or possessing alcoholic liquor in a motor vehicle unless it is employment related.

MMA: MMA is an acronym for Michigan Marijuana Act. Under the MMA a person who has legally acquired a medical marijuana card may be exempt from prosecution of certain offenses.

MSP: MSP stands for Michigan State Police. Under the laws of the State of Michigan, the MSP have authority to promulgate regulations that govern breath and blood testing of suspected drunk drivers.

NHTSA: NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA is the federal governmental agency that developed specific testing protocols used by law enforcement in the detection and apprehension of suspected impaired drivers.

Open Intoxicants Law: A person who is an operator or passenger of a motor vehicle cannot possess alcoholic liquor that is open or uncapped or upon which the seal is broken within the passenger area of a vehicle.

ORV: ORV stands for off-road vehicle. Under Michigan law, different rules apply to operators of ORVs who have consumed alcohol prior to operation than would otherwise apply if they were operating a typical motor vehicle.

OUI: An acronym for operating under the influence and is a charge of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

OUID: An acronym for operating while intoxicated by drugs.

OUIL: An acronym for operating under the influence of liquor and is a charge of drunk driving used interchangeably with DUI and OWI.

OWI: An acronym for operating while intoxicated and is a charge of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

OWVI: An acronym for operating while visibly impaired and is a charge that does not require proof of a specific BAC. OWVI means that a person’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner was impaired due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol such that the impairment would be noticeable by others.

PBT: A PBT (preliminary breath test) refers to the roadside breath test administered by a police officer prior to making an arrest decision with respect to a person stopped for suspected drunk driving.

Plea Bargain: The resolution of a case whereby a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Probable Cause: Reasonable grounds for a police officer to effectuate a traffic stop or arrest an individual for a suspected criminal offense.

Prosecutor: The attorney hired by the government agency that is charging a person with a crime to prosecute the case.

PSI: The PSI is the pre-sentence investigation report that is prepared by the probation department prior to sentencing that contains recommendations to the judge with regard to the actual sentence to be imposed and terms of probation.

RFI: RFI or radio frequency interference is electromagnetic interference that is a disturbance that affects an electrical circuit due to either electromagnetic induction or electromagnetic radiation emitted from an external source. RFI has been shown to affect the accuracy DataMaster breath testing.
Rising Alcohol Level Defense: The defense that blood alcohol levels continue to rise after someone stops drinking until it reaches a peak. The argument is that chemical testing measures the blood alcohol content at the time of the test, not at the time the operator was driving.

Super Drunk Law: Any person arrested for suspected drunk driving whose breath or blood test reveals a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or higher is subject to Michigan’s Super Drunk Law. The penalties for operating a motor vehicle with a high BAC are significantly more punitive than those associated with an OWI.

UBAL: An acronym for unlawful blood alcohol level. In the State of Michigan, the UBAL is .08.

Zero Tolerance: In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any blood alcohol content if you are under the age of .21, which is defined as having a BAC of .02 or more and charged under Zero Tolerance.

“When it comes to drunk driving defense, experience is what matters most. So if you want to maximize your chances of getting the best possible result in your case, please enter your information online now for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation or feel free to simply call my office and ask to speak to me.”

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Drunk Driving Glossary
Article Name
Drunk Driving Glossary
Drunk Driving Glossary of terms and definitions for charges of DUI / OWI.
Duke Law Group