First DUI Offense Penalties in Delaware

DUI violations in Delaware are handled through independent administrative and court proceedings, making things particularly difficult for offenders. Delaware is an implied consent state, meaning that drivers suspected of DUI are viewed as voluntarily agreeing to chemical testing. Failing to take this test subjects drivers to harsher penalties than those carried by standard DUI convictions.

First DUI Conviction Penalties in Delaware

If a chemical test reveals a 0.08 percent or greater blood-alcohol content (BAC), a driver can be convicted of DUI. However, a driver can be arrested for DUI if BAC is greater than only 0.05 percent. The arresting officer will take the driver license and issue a temporary license. To avoid losing driving privileges for at least three months, the driver must request a DMV administrative hearing within 15 days. An unfavorable ruling at an administrative hearing results in a three-month license suspension for an initial DUI.

First-time offenders may apply to a First Offense Election program at arraignment instead of standing trial. This application serves as admission of guilt, waives the right to a speedy trial, and if approved, the driver license will be revoked for at least one year. Drivers may request an IID Diversion option that allows them to drive after as short as one month if they participate in an alcohol evaluation, alcohol program, and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles.

Delaware offers a unique alternative education program for DUI offenders who have emotional or mental issues. This program, designed to alter behaviors that could result in future DUI incidents, costs $750 and requires random urine screening that carries an additional costs. Fees are also imposed for missing individual or group sessions.

Underage DUI in Delaware

Drivers in Delaware who are younger than 21 and have consumed alcohol are subject to the state zero tolerance law, which mandates a two month driver license suspension. Drivers under age 18 with a BAC greater than 0.08 percent will have their licenses revoked until age 21. Those between ages 18 and 21 face a one-year revocation period.

Underage drivers caused three of the 34 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Delaware in 2012. Though no drivers under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence that year, more than 27 percent of people ages 12 to 20 years old surveyed by SAMHSA admitted to alcohol consumption during 2011 and 2012. Seventeen percent admitted to binge drinking with 30 days of being surveyed, representing accidents waiting to happen, as drivers with high BAC are responsible for most fatal crashes.

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