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Details on Delaware Traffic Tickets
In order to accurately evaluate the safety and responsibility of its drivers, the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles keeps track of your driving history. When you make a mistake on the road and you are caught, you will be issued a Delaware traffic ticket, which will then be recorded onto your driving record. While you may not think that one simple traffic ticket could affect you, you may want to think again: even just a few points on your driving history could end up costing you a lot more than you realize.
Like in most other states throughout the country, if you are given a traffic citation in Delaware, you will also be assessed a designated amount of points with your violation. The most common violations and their associated points within the Delaware points system are broken down as follows:
- Speeding (less than 10 MPH over limit) – 2 points
- Ignoring a stop sign or traffic signal – 3 points
- Speeding (10-14 MPH over limit) – 4 points
- Speeding (15 + MPH over limit) – 5 points
- Passing a school bus – 6 points
- Reckless and/or aggressive driving – 6 points
For some of these violations, such as reckless driving, multiple Delaware speeding tickets, or excessive speeding 15 MPH or higher over the limit, there are other fines and penalties that you could be assessed. Similarly, your traffic violations will be reported to your insurance company. When insurance providers see that their customers are abusing the laws of the road, they immediately recognize them as higher risk to insure – the likelihood becomes far greater that they will be involved in an accident and will cost the company more money than other safer drivers. Therefore, your insurance provider will raise your premium rate, adding to your overall cost for your traffic ticket.
One notable exception to this is if you were caught speeding 1-4 MPH over the limit. In this case, you will not be assessed the 2 points as long as you meet the following stipulations:
- This was your first offense within any 3-year period
- You pay your ticket in full
The only way to have a ticket dismissed in Delaware is to fight it and win in court. You'll be asked to argue your case before a judge, which can be tricky. Unless you're an expert in traffic laws or you're confident your ticket was issued inaccurately, fighting your ticket is a tough way to go. There are no guarantees if you plead not guilty, and if you lose, you could still face fines, surcharges, and you could eliminate your opportunity to remove points from your record with a defensive driving course.
If you are determined to fight your traffic ticket in court, you might want to consider hiring an attorney. They are well versed in all the traffic laws, and they will be more skilled in arguing traffic violations.
If you decide not to fight your ticket, you will be required to pay your fine. This results in a guilty plea, or a "voluntary assessment" as it's called in Delaware. While you can't technically remove points from your driving record, the good news is you may be eligible to prevent a costly insurance hike by earning a 3-point credit by completing a Delaware defensive driving course. Completing a course will also give you a 10% auto insurance rate reduction, which could come in handy after earning a ticket.
Drivers in The First State have the opportunity to take a state-approved defensive driving course to manage points from Delaware traffic ticket violations once every 12 months. To be eligible you will need to fulfill the following requirements:
- Submit to the court a notarized statement that proves you have not completed a defensive driving course within the past year
- Show proof of current and valid liability insurance for your vehicle
- Present your valid Delaware driver's license to the court
- Submit a no contest plea for your traffic offense
While taking a defensive driving course is ideal if you're trying to offset traffic ticket points, good drivers can also benefit. You can earn a 3-point credit and the 10% insurance reduction, which will last for 3 years. All this while protecting your driving record from the negative effects of traffic ticket points in the future.
If you rack up too many points within a certain period of time, or your violations are consistently serious enough to deem you unsafe for other drivers, your driver's license will be suspended. License suspension could occur for any of the following reasons:
- You were speeding 25 MPH over the limit or faster
- You were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI)
- You receive 14 points in 2 years (24 months)
In order to reinstate your Delaware suspended driver's license, you will be required to attend a behavior/attitudinal modification course (commonly known as a driver improvement course), and you will also have to pay a fee. Subsequent violations will lead to longer suspension terms, and could eventually bring you to the complete revocation of your driving privileges. If you were convicted of breaking Delaware DUI laws, you will also likely be required to attend alcohol counseling.
Obviously, the best and easiest way to ensure that you don't suffer any of the above consequences is to always driving safely and within the limits of the law. However, mistakes do happen, even with the most cautious driver. If you do find yourself with points on your record, there is a way to remedy the situation. You may enroll in a Delaware defensive driving course and receive a 3-point credit to your driving record. This credit can help to offset any existing points that you may be carrying, or you may simply take this course voluntarily to earn yourself a buffer in the event that you receive a future violation. This point credit is good for 3 years, which also means you can only take a defensive driving course once every 3 years to earn it. So if you get another violation in the meantime... you may be out of luck.