By Erin Gerstenzang

If this is the first time you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to have an understanding of the common terminology that the courts, lawyers, and judges routinely use when discussing DUI cases.

Here is a list of the top 35 terms + phrases you will want to be familiar with if you have recently been arrested for DUI in Georgia.

1205 Form – the officer submits this form to the Department of Driver Services in order to initiate an ALS suspension. Normally the officer will give the driver a copy of this form at the time of the arrest.

30-day Letter – legal notice sent to the Department of Driver Services challenging the ALS suspension. It must be sent within 30 days of a DUI arrest along with a $150 filing fee. Without this notice, DDS may automatically suspend a Georgia license after receiving a 1205 form from the officer who made the DUI arrest.

Alcosensor / PBT – handheld device officers use on the side of the road to get a general idea of a driver’s blood alcohol content. This is different than the Intoxilyzer 9000 breath test machine. In Georgia, the numerical results of the handheld device are not admissible in court.

ALS Suspension – also known more formally as the Administrative License Suspension. It can happen BEFORE a person has been found guilty of DUI. Also called a “pre-conviction” suspension. The suspension is typically longer in refusal cases.

ALS Hearingcourt proceeding available to drivers who request a hearing to challenge a pre-conviction suspension.

Arraignment – the first (of many) court dates in a criminal case. At this court date, the driver is told what the exact charges are and she has an opportunity to plead not guilty.

Bench Trial – a trial where the judge makes all the decisions about what and who to believe, as well as determining the final verdict.

Chromatogram – The test result of a blood sample in DUI cases. Find out how long it normally takes to get DUI blood test results back from the GBI.

Chromatograph – The machine that performs chromatography on the blood sample.

DDS – Department of Driver Services has jurisdiction over all Georgia licenses. Download their app to track updates to your license.

Double Refusal – usually refers to a case where the driver refused both roadside field sobriety testing AND a breath, blood, or urine test.

FSTsField Sobriety Tests are also called roadside evaluations. The most commonly used are the HGN (eye test), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg-stand. These tests have been standardized by NHTSA.

HGN – the first of three standardized field sobriety tests where the officer is looking for evidence of nystagmus (involuntary jerking) in the driver’s eyes which can be an indicator of impairment. Find out more about what the officer is looking for on this test!

Ignition Interlock Device – Also known as the “IID”, a device that is installed in your car to monitor your blood alcohol content while the vehicle is on. This option can be a great alternative to a twelve-month (refusal) license suspension as long as you can afford the installation and monitoring fees and don’t mind that your passengers see the device. However, there is a strict deadline for the IID so you want to be sure you know exactly how to apply for it with Find out more about which drivers are eligible for the IID.

Implied Consent – this is a warning read by the officer immediately after a DUI arrest, and it acts as a formal request for a voluntary blood, breath, or urine test. This is different from a Miranda warning.

Intoxilyzer 9000 – breath testing machine that all Georgia law enforcement agencies use when testing a DUI suspect’s breath.

Jury Trial – 6 jurors in a DUI trial determine which witnesses and facts to believe when making a decision of guilty or not guilty.

Less Safe – the legal standard that applies to all DUI cases, regardless of whether the test result was over or under the legal limit.

  • DUI in Georgia = a Less Safe Driver
  • “A driver or operator of a motor vehicle is under the influence of alcohol when the person is affected by alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive than it would be if the person were not affected by alcohol. A driver who is less safe is less efficient, less skillful, less coherent, less able, less qualified, and less proficient.”

License Suspension – there are two types of DUI license suspensions to keep in mind. One is an ALS suspension – also known as a pre-conviction suspension. The second type is one imposed at the time of a DUI conviction – which can be many months or even years after the arrest. In Georgia, a first-lifetime conviction of DUI comes with an automatic 120-day suspension.

Miranda – a warning that is almost never read in a DUI arrest, unless the officer is seeking additional statements from the driver after the arrest. Many people incorrectly assume that Miranda is read after every arrest, but that is not true in Georgia for many traffic offenses.

Nolo – also thought of as a “no contest” plea. A nolo plea can be very helpful in many traffic cases, however it is not helpful in the DUI context.

Nystagmus – the involuntary jerking of the eyes that can be caused by the consumption of a CNS depressant like alcohol.

One Leg Stand – the third of three standardized field sobriety tests. It evaluates a driver’s ability to stand on one leg for 30 seconds without sway, hopping, putting their foot down, or raising their arms. Find out more about what the officer is scoring for on this test!

Plea of Not Guilty – the standard response of a driver charged with DUI at an arraignment or first court date, even if she laters decide to change her plea.

Probable Cause – legal standard of evidence that is required to support an arrest as opposed to what is required to initiate a traffic stop. In Georgia, the officer must have knowledge or reasonably trustworthy information that someone was in control of a moving vehicle, while under the influence to a degree that renders her incapable of driving safely.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – standard of proof required to convict someone of DUI at trial.

  • A reasonable doubt is defined by the courts as “a doubt of a fair-minded, impartial juror honestly seeking the truth. It is a doubt based upon common sense and reason. It does not mean a vague or arbitrary doubt, but it is a doubt for which a reason can be given arising from a consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or any combination of these.”

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion – the amount of evidence required to initiate a traffic stop is much lower than the probable cause required for an arrest.

  • A particularized and objective basis for suspecting that a citizen is involved in criminal activity. This suspicion need not meet the higher standard of probable cause, but it must only be more than mere caprice or a hunch.

Refusal – where a driver does not submit to a voluntary breath, blood, or urine test. Find out more about why the officer labeled your case a refusal!

Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) – Refers to three specific tests that have been researched for accuracy and follow a specific protocol to determine whether or not a person should be arrested. While all tests done on the side of the road are considered “field sobriety tests” only these specific ones are standardized – HGN, the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg Stand.

Tolerance – occurs when a person no longer responds to a drug in the way they did at first. So it takes a higher dose of the substance to achieve the same effect as when the person first used it.

Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN) – An up and down jerking of the eyes that occurs when the eyes gaze upward at maximum elevation. The presence of this type of nystagmus is associated with high doses of alcohol for that individual and certain other drugs.

Walk and Turn – the second of three standardized field sobriety tests which examines a driver’s ability to follow a layered set of instructions while walking 9 steps out and back on a straight line. Find out more about what the officer is looking for during this test!

Warrant for Blood – The officer can always petition a judge to get an electronic warrant that will authorize them to take your blood, without your consent. Most jurisdictions have made it easier for officers to apply for and get these warrants during a DUI arrest. So even where a driver refuses, the officer can still get a blood sample by force.