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DUI with BAL over .15 in Florida

Many people assume that if they blow over the legal limit of .08 that they will not be able to win their DUI case or get the charges reduced to reckless driving.

Individuals with a high blow over 0.15 are even more concerned that their case might be impossible to win.

At least in Hillsborough County, FL, if your BAC was over .15 but at least one reading was below .20, then you might be eligible for the Level II RIDR diversion program for a first offense.

Under the RIDR program, if you agree to enhanced sanctions, including an ignition interlock device for 6 months, then the state attorney’s office will reduce the case to reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication.

For a BAC reading over .15, the RIDR DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County, FL, might be a good option to resolve the case. An attorney can help you enter RIDR and complete the sanction.

You also need an attorney to challenge the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by demanding a FORMAL review hearing within 10 days of your arrest.

Not everyone is eligible for a diversion program like RIDR. You are not eligible if you have a prior DUI arrest, were involved in a crash, had a child passenger, or had a BAC reading over .20.

Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.

Anyone charged with the per se version of DUI (that alleges an unlawful breath-alcohol level) should be aware that the breath test instrument used in Florida, the Intoxilyzer 8000, is not always accurate or reliable.

If your attorney can show problems with your breath test, the prosecutor might offer a drastic reduction to avoid a trial.

We created this website to give you some general information but it is no substitute for speaking directly with a criminal defense attorney for advice about what you need to do now to protect yourself against this serious accusation.

Attorney for the DUI with a BAC over .15 in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for a DUI with a breath or blood test result showing an alcohol content reading over .15, then contact a criminal defense lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss ways to fight this serious type of DUI case.

Florida DUI laws provide for enhanced penalties that can be imposed if the readings show that the alcohol concentration was over .15. To avoid those consequences, you might consider entering the Level II RIDR DUI diversion program.

Call us to find out the pros and cons of agreeing to enhanced sanctions and find out if you are eligible for this program.

Act quickly because you only have 10 days after the arrest to have your attorney file a demand for a FORMAL review hearing and pick up your 42-day permit so you can keep driving to work.

Our attorneys focus on defending individuals charged with drunk driving in Tampa and Plant City for Hillsborough County, Florida. We also have a second office in New Port Richey across from the West Pasco Judicial Center.

Call 813-250-0500.

Enhanced Penalties for a High DUI Breath Test Reading

Numerous enhanced penalties exist in those DUI cases in which the breath or blood alcohol content test shows a reading of .15 or higher. In Hillsborough County, the HCSO Arrest Inquiry will list the offense as DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (OVER 0.15) (TRAF1009).

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 316.193, the Court must impose the following enhanced penalties if the breath test was .15 or over:

  • First DUI Conviction – up to 9 months in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $2,000, and a special condition of probation that you must install an ignition interlock device is required for six (6) months; and
  • Second DUI Conviction – up to 12 months in jail, a fine of $2,000 to $4,000, and a special condition of probation that the ignition interlock device is required for at least 24 months.
  • Third DUI Conviction – up to 12 months in jail, a fine of not less than $4,000.

If you are charged with this type of aggravated DUI, the enhanced penalties might be avoided if the prosecutor agrees and the Court signs an order reflecting the stipulation between the prosecutor and the defense attorney that the breath or blood alcohol content was less than .15 (notwithstanding the test results in the case).

When One Breath Test Result is Above and One Below 0.15

If there is one reading below .15 reading and one above, the State has failed to meet the burden of proof required for a conviction of DUI with .15 reading or higher. See Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Colling, 178 So. 3d 2 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014), review denied, 148 So. 3d 770 (Fla. 2014).

In the Colling case, the court concluded that where there were two readings, one below the legal limit and one above, the inference that the petitioner was below the legal limit was equally plausible, and since the burden was on the Department, it did not meet that burden.

This case is often cited by DUI defense attorneys to show the court why the enhanced penalties for a BAC over .15 do not apply when one result is below .15.

Defenses to the Breath Test DUI Case

Find out more about important defenses that might exist in your case such as whether:

  • the arresting officer failed to watch you during the twenty (20) minute period before you took the breath test;
  • the breath test operator and agency inspector were properly certified;
  • the particular Intoxilyzer 8000 used in your case was properly maintained and certified; and
  • any other explanation other than intoxication can explain the reading.

A DUI defense attorney can perform an audit of your breath test machine to determine whether any problems can be used to argue that the BAC reading should be excluded from evidence.

Filing and litigating a motion to exclude the breath test reading often leads to the best results in a DUI with a BAC over .08.

A Stipulation that the DUI BAC was Below .08

If the prosecutor offers to reduce the DUI, then the criminal defense attorney must prepare the order for the judge’s signature.

The order is filed in the clerk’s office and a certified copy must be delivered to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR).

After the order is received by the DHSMV, then the ignition interlock requirement will be deleted.

Many courts use the following type of order to ratify a stipulation between the prosecutor and the criminal defense attorney that the BAC was below .15 for purposes of avoiding the enhanced sanctions or reducing the charge to reckless driving:




THIS CAUSE, having come on to be heard before the undersigned on the 9th day of April, 2021, upon the oral Stipulation by the State of Florida, by and through its Assistant State Attorney, and the Defendant, ________, by and through her counsel of record, and the Court having ratified the Stipulation of the parties, it is


  1. Pursuant to the Stipulation of the parties, the Court hereby finds that the Defendant’s blood-alcohol level at the time of arrest was less than .15%.
  2. Because the Defendant’s blood-alcohol level was less than .15% at the time of her arrest, the Court will not impose the requirement that the Defendant install the ignition interlock device on her vehicle or require any enhanced fine.

DONE AND ORDERED in chambers in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, this __th day of _____, 2021.

________________________                ________________________
Attorney for the Defendant                               Assistant State Attorney


County Court Judge

Additional Resources

Increased Penalties for High Blood Alcohol Content – Visit the website of the NCSL, a national bipartisan organization providing states support and ideas, to learn more about the increased penalties for high blood alcohol content enacted in each state for a high BAC. In fact, the article provides an exhaustive list of enhanced penalties that apply in each state in the United States and the District of Columbia.

Choosing an Attorney for a DUI BAC over .15 in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrest for DUI with a breath or blood alcohol level over .15, it is particularly important to talk with an attorney experienced in fighting the breath test case.

Click here to read our article choosing an attorney and how to fight the DUI Breath Test Case.

Contact an experienced DUI lawyer with the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, to discuss the particular facts of your case.

We can help you protect your driving privileges by demanding a FORMAL review hearing.

We can also help you determine if you are eligible for the Level II RIDR Diversion program in Hillsborough County so that you can avoid a DUI conviction altogether.

Call 813-250-0500 for a free consultation today.

This article was last updated on Friday, July 2, 2021.