DUI & DWI Laws in Delaware
It is well known that driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is extremely dangerous, which is why it is treated as a felony crime in many states throughout the nation. Delaware is no exception – should you be caught behind the wheel of a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, you will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and will face a litany of serious penalties that could take your driver’s license away for a very long time, and cost you a great deal of money for years to come. In fact, you can be arrested by having a BAC of 0.05%, which is below the national legal limit, but sufficient for prosecution in the state of Delaware.
What Designates a DUI?
According to Delaware DUI laws, a person can be charged with a DUI offense if they are caught driving or operating any vehicle (including mopeds, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles) while under the influence of any drug or alcohol. A DUI is considered a criminal offense in Delaware, and your driving privileges will be immediately revoked. Similarly, if you carry any outstanding Delaware traffic violations on your record at the time of your arrest, you will be held accountable for both offenses. If you are driving on an already suspended or revoked license due to points system violations, your penalties will be further compounded.
Implied Consent Law
You can also be penalized for refusing a chemical test at the time that you are stopped for suspicion of DUI. As with many states, Delaware has an “implied consent” rule as part of its Delaware DWI laws, meaning that from the moment you get behind the wheel of a car in the state, you automatically and implicitly give your consent to a chemical or breath test if requested. The penalty for refusing to comply with a chemical test is automatic license suspension, and the lengths of time are as follows:
- 1st refusal – 12 months
- 2nd refusal – 18 months
- 3rd refusal – 2 years
What Happens After a DUI?
When you are caught driving under the influence, your license will be immediately confiscated. You will be issued a temporary drivers license, which is good for 15 days. This is the length of time you have to request a court hearing. If you do not do so, the 15-day license will expire and you will no longer be legally allowed to operate your vehicle.
If you request a court hearing, you will need to appear in court on the date designated by the judge. At this time, it will be determined whether the officer had probable cause to pull you over, and whether the breathalyzer results were valid and accurate. Again, if you blew a 0.08% or higher, you will be automatically convicted.
It is highly recommended that you hire an attorney who specialized in DUI cases, as the legal details are many, and you will have a better chance of alleviating your consequences if you have an expert there to represent you.
Delaware DUI and DWI Penalties
The severity of the punishment for driving under the influence depends upon how many convictions you have previously garnered. While penalty fines and revocation periods vary from court to court, these are the general consequences you can expect to face:
- 1st DUI offense – $230 – $1,150 fine, up to 6 months in jail, and 12 to 24-month revocation of your license
- 2nd DUI offense and subsequent offenses – $575 – $2,300 fine, mandatory imprisonment of 60 days – 18 months, 24 to 60-month license revocation, plus installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
DUI convictions remain on your driving record for 5 years. You will also need to complete an alcohol treatment course and/or a Delaware defensive driving course. These will be determined during your court hearing.
Drivers Under 21
Delaware as a “zero tolerance” law toward minors who drink before the legal age. Detection of a single bit of alcohol in your body while you are under age is enough to revoke your license for 2 months, and 6 – 12 months if convicted of subsequent offenses. If the minor in question does not possess a full driver’s license at all, they will be fined $400-$1,000.
The law doesn’t just end at penalizing minors who drive with alcohol. Underage persons who possess or consume alcohol in any way – whether behind the wheel or not – risk the forfeiture of their drivers license for 30 days upon their first offense, and 90 – 180 days for subsequent offenses.
Drivers License Reinstatement
When you have completed all of your requirements for the court, you may apply for a new drivers license. You will need to do the following:
- Complete an alcohol treatment education program
- Pay all fines and fees associated with your conviction
- Have turned in your revoked license to the DMV for at least 6 months
- Pay a reinstatement fee of $143.75
- Take the written, vision, and hearing tests at the DMV
- Possibly retake your behind-the-wheel driving exam
Once you have once again proven your responsibility behind the wheel, you will be issued a new drivers license.