Delaware strictly prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the state. Drivers who are found guilty of this offense can face severe penalties ranging from jail time to steep monetary fines. To avoid being arrested for DUI, drivers in the state need to understand how driving under the influence is defined and how the state punishes this offense.
DUI in Delaware
Driving under the influence in Delaware is defined as driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Unlike other states, Delaware also defines it as driving with any trace of drug or alcohol in your blood. It likewise involves the driver’s blood unlawfully containing any amount of illegal or illicit substances.
In Delaware, it is also possible to get a DUI even if the driver is not actually driving a car or the vehicle is not in motion or running. The driver must simply be deemed to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. He or she must present a clear physical danger to the public to receive a DUI while simply being in a car and not actually driving it.
Delaware also has separate DUI laws for commercial drivers. Commercial drivers in the state can be arrested for DUI if their BACs are 0.04 percent or higher.
Under the state’s implied consent laws, motorists give implied consent for DUI field testing if they operate any kind of motor vehicle. People who refuse to consent to DUI testing under the state’s implied consent laws can have their licenses suspended for one year.
Delaware DUI Penalties
Delaware punishes driving under the influence in a variety of ways. The penalties correspond with the number of prior DUI offenses and the severity of the crime when it was committed.
A first-time DUI offender in Delaware can receive penalties like a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of $500 to $1500. If the offender has no prior criminal history, he or she can opt to waive his or her trial and appellate rights in exchange for probation. The offender will still need to complete drug or alcohol rehabilitation, have his or her license revoked for one year and pay all court costs and fees to avoid a DUI conviction.
A second-time DUI conviction can result in a 60 to 180 day jail sentence. It can also lead to a fine of $750 to $2500. A third DUI conviction will lead to a prison term of one to two years as well as a fine that tops out at $5000.
Delaware offers an intensive supervision program that lets DUI offenders take advantage of professional drug or alcohol addiction treatment as well as constant monitoring abstinence. Completion of this state program can reduce the penalties that offenders face for a second DUI conviction.
They can receive 30 days in jail and serve 30 days of community service. They still have to complete a drug or alcohol evaluation, however.
DUI penalties in Delaware can also be increased if an offender is found to be driving with a 0.08 percent or higher BAC and has a passenger who is 17 years of age or younger in the car. The fine for this offense is $500 to $1500. The sentencing also includes 40 days of community service. Subsequent offenses for driving while intoxicated with an underage passenger increases to fines up to $2500 and 80 hours of community service.
Delaware DUI Drivers’ license Sanctions
People who are found guilty of DUI in Delaware can have their drivers’ licenses revoked or suspended. The length of time for the suspension or revocation correlates to the number of prior DUI convictions on a person’s record as well as his or her BAC.
If a person’s BAC is 0.08 percent but less than 0.16 percent, he or she can lose driving privileges for:
- 12 months for a first conviction
- 18 months for a second conviction
- 24 months for a third conviction
A BAC of 0.16 percent but less than 0.20 percent results in a drivers’ license suspension of:
- 18 months for the first conviction
- 24 months for the second conviction
- 30 months for the third conviction
A driver with a BAC of 0.20 or higher receives a suspension of driving privileges for:
- 24 months for a first conviction
- 30 months for a second conviction
- 36 months for a third conviction
Drivers can also lose their driving privileges if they refuse chemical testing for DUI. A first-time refusal can result in a one-year license revocation. A second refusal can lead to losing driving privileges for 18 months while a third refusal leads to a two-year license revocation. The drivers’ license loss comes on top of other DUI penalties the driver receives.
Underage DUI in Delaware
Delaware uses separate DUI laws for underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI if they have a BAC of 0.02 or higher. This law applies to driving all motor vehicles including passenger cars, mopeds, and off-highway vehicles.
Underage drivers found guilty of DUI must complete a drug or alcohol treatment program. They also can have their licenses suspended for two months for a first conviction and six to 12 months for second and subsequent convictions. If an underage driver refuses DUI testing, he or she can lose his or her license for three months for a first refusal, one year for a second, and 18 months for a third refusal.
DUIs in Delaware are met with an assortment of legal penalties. Drivers who are found guilty of this offense can be sentenced to jail and also have to pay expensive monetary fines. They also face losing their privilege to drive in the state for several months or years. The DUI laws apply to drivers of all ages including underage drivers under the age of 21.