DUI Laws in Delaware

This article provides a comprehensive overview of Delaware's DUI laws, penalties, and procedures.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Delaware, carrying significant legal consequences. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Delaware's DUI laws, penalties, and procedures. It is designed to help individuals understand the legal landscape and the implications of DUI offenses in the state.

Overview of DUI Laws in Delaware

Definition of DUI

In Delaware, DUI is defined under Title 21, Chapter 41, Section 4177 of the Delaware Code. A person is considered to be driving under the influence if they operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Additionally, individuals can be charged with DUI if they are under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs and alcohol that impairs their ability to drive safely.

Delaware Code Online - Title 21, Chapter 41, Section 4177

The legal BAC limits in Delaware are as follows:

  • 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over.
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers.
  • 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21.

Delaware's implied consent law requires drivers to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) if they are suspected of DUI. Refusal to submit to testing can result in immediate license suspension and other penalties.

Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles - Driver Improvement

Penalties for DUI in Delaware

First Offense

A first-time DUI offense in Delaware carries the following penalties:

  • Fines ranging from $500 to $1,500.
  • Imprisonment for up to 12 months.
  • License suspension for up to 24 months.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

First Offense DUI | Wilmington, Delaware Drunk Driving Defense

Second Offense

A second DUI offense within ten years of the first offense includes:

  • Fines ranging from $750 to $2,500.
  • Imprisonment for 60 days to 18 months.
  • License suspension for up to 30 months.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

Third Offense

A third DUI offense within ten years is classified as a felony and includes:

  • Fines ranging from $1,500 to $5,000.
  • Imprisonment for 1 to 2 years.
  • License suspension for up to 36 months.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

Felony DUI Laws Delaware | Murray, Phillips & Gay

Fourth and Subsequent Offenses

Fourth and subsequent DUI offenses are also classified as felonies, with increased penalties:

  • Fines ranging from $3,000 to $7,000.
  • Imprisonment for 2 to 5 years.
  • License suspension for up to 60 months.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

Aggravating Factors

Certain factors can lead to enhanced penalties for DUI offenses, including:

  • Having a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • Causing injury or death while driving under the influence.
  • Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Administrative Penalties

License Suspension

In addition to criminal penalties, DUI offenders in Delaware face administrative penalties from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These include license suspension periods that vary based on the number of offenses and the presence of aggravating factors.

Ignition Interlock Device

Delaware requires the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for certain DUI offenders. The IID prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has a BAC above a preset limit. The duration of the IID requirement depends on the number of offenses and other factors.

Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles - Driver Improvement

DUI Process in Delaware

Arrest and Booking

When a driver is suspected of DUI, they will be arrested and taken to a police station for booking. This process includes taking fingerprints, photographs, and personal information.

Chemical Testing

As part of the booking process, the driver will be asked to submit to a chemical test to determine their BAC. Refusal to submit to testing can result in immediate license suspension and other penalties.

Arraignment

The arraignment is the first court appearance for a DUI defendant. During this hearing, the charges are read, and the defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a trial date is set.

Pretrial Motions

Before the trial, the defense and prosecution may file pretrial motions. These motions can include requests to suppress evidence, dismiss charges, or compel the production of evidence.

Trial

During the trial, both the prosecution and defense present evidence and arguments. The judge or jury then determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the DUI charges.

Sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the severity of the offense and any aggravating factors. Sentencing can include fines, imprisonment, license suspension, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

DUI and Drugged Driving

Drugged Driving Laws

Delaware's DUI laws also apply to drugged driving. A person can be charged with DUI if they are under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs and alcohol that impairs their ability to drive safely. This includes both illegal drugs and prescription medications.

Delaware Drugged Driving - NORML

Penalties for Drugged Driving

The penalties for drugged driving are similar to those for alcohol-related DUI offenses. They include fines, imprisonment, license suspension, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education or treatment program.

DUI and Out-of-State Drivers

Reciprocity Agreements

Delaware has reciprocity agreements with other states, meaning that a DUI conviction in Delaware can affect a driver's license status in their home state. Out-of-state drivers convicted of DUI in Delaware may face license suspension and other penalties in their home state.

Things Out-of-State Drivers Need to Know About Delaware DUIs

Out-of-state drivers facing DUI charges in Delaware should seek legal representation from an attorney familiar with Delaware's DUI laws. An experienced attorney can help navigate the legal process and minimize the impact of a DUI conviction.

DUI Prevention and Education

Delaware Office of Highway Safety

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is dedicated to reducing impaired driving through education, enforcement, and public awareness campaigns. The OHS works with law enforcement agencies and community organizations to promote safe driving practices and prevent DUI offenses.

State of Delaware - Office of Highway Safety (OHS) - Impaired Driving

Alcohol Education Programs

Delaware requires DUI offenders to participate in alcohol education or treatment programs as part of their sentencing. These programs aim to address the underlying issues related to alcohol abuse and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses.

Ignition Interlock Device Program

The Ignition Interlock Device (IID) program is another tool used to prevent DUI offenses. The IID prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has a BAC above a preset limit. Participation in the IID program is mandatory for certain DUI offenders in Delaware.

Conclusion

Delaware's DUI laws are designed to deter impaired driving and protect public safety. The state imposes strict penalties for DUI offenses, including fines, imprisonment, license suspension, and mandatory participation in alcohol education or treatment programs. Understanding the legal landscape and the consequences of DUI offenses is crucial for drivers in Delaware. By promoting education, enforcement, and prevention efforts, Delaware aims to reduce the incidence of impaired driving and enhance road safety for all residents and visitors.

For more information on Delaware's DUI laws and penalties, please refer to the official resources provided by the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles and the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles - Driver Improvement

State of Delaware - Office of Highway Safety (OHS) - Impaired Driving

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Von Wooding

Von Wooding

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