What Constitutes an Enhanced DUI in Florida?

Everyone knows that drinking and driving can be unsafe. It’s when we slip and let ourselves be overserved, or we fail to recognize that we’re in no shape to drive that big problems can develop. Getting arrested for DUI in Florida is a big problem. Getting charged with Enhanced DUI, which is a DUI with aggravating factors, is a huge threat to both your freedom and your future.  


Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law have successfully represented hundreds of drivers facing DUI or Enhanced DUI charges. With a background in DUI prosecution, your DUI defense lawyer knows all the strategies and tactics the police and prosecutor will use to win a conviction. There are many opportunities for a skilled DUI defense attorney to weaken or defeat the state’s case against you.  


This blog post explains the significant differences between a standard DUI and an Enhanced DUI with aggravating factors. We hope you are never driving unsafely, and that you are never arrested and charged with DUI. But if you find yourself facing DUI charges in the Tampa – St. Petersburg area, call Stechschulte Nell for our help.  



Difference Between Standard DUI and Enhanced DUI 


Most DUIs involve drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08 but below 0.15. The science relied upon in DUI cases indicates that alcohol begins to affect the brain even in small amounts. As a person consumes more alcohol, the physical and mental effects become more pronounced. Research suggested that measuring the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath (or blood) would correspond to a driver’s loss of faculties. The law first declared a BAC of 0.10 indicating a person was too drunk to drive, then the legal limit of alcohol in a person’s system was lowered to 0.08.  


Florida law also allows the state to prosecute and convict drivers of DUI without a breathalyzer test, using other evidence to prove the driver was in control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such an extent that their “normal faculties are impaired.” These drivers may be convicted on Enhanced DUI charges when other aggravating facts are involved in their case.  


Standard DUI (BAC 0.08 – 0.149) 


Florida law imposes penalties on people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs which includes possible jail, fines, probation, alcohol or drug counsel, and revocation of their driver’s license. (see below for detailed penalties) These standard penalties apply only to 1st offense DUI cases where the driver’s BAC is above 0.08 and below 0.15, and where no “aggravating circumstances” are involved. 


Harsher penalties are imposed on Florida drivers whose Enhanced DUI puts other members of society at heightened risk of injury or death 


Enhanced DUI (BAC 0.15 or higher or Other Aggravating Circumstances) 


When a Florida driver’s alleged DUI involves circumstances, the legislature deemed to be especially dangerous, a conviction allows the court to impose much more severe penalties.  


Aggravating facts that qualify as especially worthy of higher penalties under Florida law include these: 


Enhanced DUI Penalties 


The penalties are higher in Enhanced DUI cases because the conduct is considered more heinous. Here are the possible sentences that may be imposed in an Enhanced DUI in Florida:




  • 1st Offense: Up to 6 mos. jail, up to $500 fine,  

6 mos. loss of license, vehicle impound 10 days

  • 2nd Offense: Up to 9 mos. jail, up to $2,000 fine 

5 yrs. loss of license, vehicle impound 30 days 

  • 3rd Offense: (felony) Mandatory 30 to 5 yrs jail,  

$2,000 – $5,000 fine, up to lifetime loss of license, 

vehicle impound 90 days, IILD mandatory, and more 

  • 4th Offense: (felony) possible 5 yrs jail, $5,000 fine,  

lifetime loss of license, and more 




  • 1st Offense: Up to 9 mos. jail, up to $2,000 fine, 

possible lifetime loss of license, vehicle impound 90 days  

2nd Offense: Up to 1 yr jail, up to $4,000 fine, 

5yr loss of license, vehicle impound 30 days,  

  • 3rd Offense: (felony) Mandatory 30 days to 5 yrs jail, 

up to $5,000 fine, up to lifetime loss of license,  

  • 4th Offense: (felony) possible 5 yrs jail, $5,000 fine,  
  • lifetime loss of license, and more 


Enhanced DUI Defenses in Florida 


The most experienced DUI attorneys can use their skills and legal knowledge to challenge the evidence being used by prosecutors to enhance the penalties of your DUI charge and to try to prevent a conviction of any kind. Prosecutors need to prove every element of the charge by evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s not easy when a courtroom-savvy DUI defense lawyer knows how and when to attack weaknesses in the evidence. 


Police Need Probable Cause to Arrest You for DUI 


No matter what the facts are in your DUI, the police must have evidence that meets the standard of probable cause to arrest you. The police cannot stop your vehicle unless they have reasonable suspicion that a violation of the law is occurring.  


Probable cause in most DUI cases relies on the results of the driver’s field sobriety test performance. That is how the police observe your inability to satisfactorily do a “walk and turn” test, sometimes called a “heel to toe” test. You may be unable to stand on one leg and raise the other leg as you count, the “one-legged stand” test. 


You are not legally required to perform any field sobriety tests. But even if you do, an experienced DUI defense lawyer knows how to question the accuracy of the test, the police officer’s compliance with the strict testing protocols, and the appropriateness of the ground, lighting, and weather conditions. 


Learn More > How to Challenge a Florida DUI 


Tampa DUI Defense  


In Tampa and St. Petersburg, the law firm of Stechschulte Nell will provide you with the highest quality DUI defense available. Years of expertise prosecuting and defending Florida DUI cases enables Stechschulte Nell’s lawyers to know precisely what tactics your prosecutor will use and how best to defeat them. 


Contact our skilled DUI defense lawyers in Tampa and St. Petersburg at Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law for experienced DUI defense. Call us for a case review at 813-280-1244.  


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