Delaware DUI Laws & Penalties

If you drive under influence of any substances that impair your driving abilities in the State of Delaware, you can be sure that the authorities won’t let you go with it. They are quite strict in enforcing the current DUI laws, but they don’t stop there. Delaware legislation bodies have updated the DUI laws more than once in the last several years, making the penalties more rigorous than ever. Committing a DUI offense in Delaware will result in fines, driving license suspension, installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, attending DUI classes, and even some jail time.




What is a Delaware DUI Offense?

To be guilty of DUI driving in Delaware, you have to operate a vehicle under influence of substances that impair your driving abilities. If you are not fit to drive due to such substances, the laws want you out of the road. If you don’t comply with that duty, you’ll be punished.

According to Delaware Code Section 4177, it is prohibited to drive:

  • Under influence of alcohol
  • Under influence of any drug
  • Under influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs
  • With an alcohol concentration in blood of 0.08% or more
  • When the driver’s alcohol concentration is, within four hours after the time of driving, 0.08 or more (without regard to the driver’s alcohol concentration at the time of driving)
  • When the driver’s blood contains, within four hours of driving, any amount of an illicit or recreational drug that is the result of the unlawful use or consumption prior to or while driving

However, it is not necessary to drive to commit a DUI offense. The possibility to drive the vehicle under influence could also lead to a conviction. If you are under influence of alcohol or drugs and are sitting on the driver’s seat in your vehicle parked on a parking lot, you may be charged and convicted due to the possibility to start driving your vehicle at any time.

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Delaware DUI laws set a threshold to determine whether you are fit to drive or not. That threshold depends on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and is set as follows:

  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old
  • 0.04% for commercial license drivers
  • 0.08% for all other drivers

If the breathalyzer shows that your BAC is anything above these thresholds, you have nowhere to run. You are automatically guilty for DUI driving. But that’s not the only way to get charged. There are two important DUI laws you need to know to better understand the Delaware DUI laws.
Implied consent law. This means that by getting your driving license and sitting behind the wheel to drive you have agreed to take a breathalyzer test anytime a police officer request so. If you refuse, you are guilty of DUI.

Open container law. Having open containers with alcohol beverage in your car automatically charges you with DUI. This means that you should keep bottles, kegs, or glasses filled with alcohol closed while you are driving, or you risk a penalty.

What are the penalties for a Delaware DUI?

Penalties for DUI offenses committed in Delaware depend on whether you have committed a DUI offense and how many of them. Delaware counts all the DUIs in a lifetime for determining the penalties. Some other states forget your previous DUIs after a certain period of time, but not Delaware. Here you can expect to be punished as follows:

Delaware First DUI Conviction

The first DUI conviction in Delaware is punishable as follows:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Fines of $500 to $1500 plus court costs
  • License suspension of 12 months if your BAC is under 0.15%, 18 months if your BAC is between 0.15% and 0.19%, and 24 months if your BAC is 0.20% or more
  • Have an Ignition Interlock Device Installed after getting your driving license back for a period of 12 months (for BAC under 0.15%), 18 months (for BAC from 0.15% to 0.19%), or 24 months (for BAC of 0.20% or greater)
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted

Delaware Second DUI Conviction

If you drive under influence in Delaware for the second time within 10 years after your first offense, you’ll be punished as follows:

  • Jail time from 60 days to 18 months
  • Fines in the range between $750 and $2500 plus courts costs
  • The minimum of jail time cannot be suspended unless the offender completes a DUI treatment program and do a minimum of 30 hours of community service
  • License suspension of 18 months if your BAC is under 0.15%, 24 months if your BAC is between 0.15% and 0.19%, and 30 months if your BAC is 0.20% or more
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware Third DUI Conviction

The third Delaware DUI offense is a Class G felony penalized with the following penalties:

  • Jail time of one to two years
  • Fines of up to $5000
  • The minimum jail sentence may be suspended down to three months, but only if the offender participates in both alcohol treatment program and drug and alcohol abstinence program
  • License suspension of 24 months if your BAC is under 0.15%, 30 months if your BAC is between 0.15% and 0.19%, and 36 months if your BAC is 0.20% or more
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware Fourth DUI Conviction

Committing a DUI in Delaware for fourth consecutive time is a Class E felony. The penalties are as follows:

  • Jail time of two to five years
  • Fines of up to $7000
  • If the offender participates in both alcohol treatment program and drug and alcohol abstinence program, the jail sentence can be suspended down to no less than six months
  • License suspension of 60 months regardless of the BAC
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware Fifth DUI Conviction

The fifth DUI conviction means committing a Class E felony. It is punishable as follows:

  • Three to five years in jail
  • Up to $10000 in fines
  • If the offender participates in both alcohol treatment program and drug and alcohol abstinence program, the court can suspend up to one half of the prison sentence
  • License suspension of 60 months regardless of the BAC
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware Sixth DUI Conviction

The sixth DUI offense in Delaware is a Class D felony. Offenders can expect to be punished with the following penalties.

  • Four to eight years in prison
  • Up to $10000 in fines
  • If the offender participates in both alcohol treatment program and drug and alcohol abstinence program, the court can suspend up to one half of the prison sentence
  • License suspension of 60 months regardless of the BAC
  • If the offender successfully completes an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, their driving license suspension can be lifted
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware Seventh DUI Conviction

The seventh DUI conviction in Delaware is a Class C felony and is punishable as follows:

  • 5 to 15 years in prison
  • Up to $15000 in fines
  • If the offender participates in both alcohol treatment program and drug and alcohol abstinence program, the court can suspend up to one half of the prison sentence
  • License suspension of 60 months regardless of the BAC
  • Complete an alcohol evaluation program
  • Attend DUI classes

Delaware DUI with a Child in the Car

Having a 16 years old person or younger in the car while the offender committed a DUI, in addition to these penalties they will be penalized with:

  • Additional $500 to $1500 in fines
  • A minimum of 40 hours in community service benefiting children

For each subsequent DUI offense, the offender will be additionally punished by:

  • Addition $750 to $2500 in fines
  • A minimum of 80 hours of community service benefiting children

Delaware DUI Offenses by Out-of-State Drivers

If you are an out-of-state driver in Delaware and get convicted as a DUI offender there, you’ll be suspended from driving in this state as follows:

  • 12 months for BAC under 0.15%
  • 18 months for BAC from 0.15% to 0.19%
  • 24 months for BAC 0.20% or greater

How to Reinstate Your Driving License Sooner in Delaware?

Depending on the circumstances of your case you may be eligible for driving license reinstatement before the expiry of the whole period of suspension. You’ll have to wait for some time, but in any case, you’ll have to meet the following requirements:

  • Complete an alcohol abuse treatment program
  • Pay a reinstatement fee of $200 and other fees
  • Have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle
  • Retake driving license tests (if applicable)

The ignition interlock device plays an important role in getting your license back sooner than the suspension period. It is a device that won’t let you drive your car if you are under influence of substances. Some offenders may be required to have, but even if you are not, your Delaware DUI defense lawyer will advise you to volunteer for one because it imp[roves your chances to drive again.

Delaware Underage DUI and Possession

The rules for underage DUI offenders are different than those for older drivers. Delaware DUI laws treat drivers younger than 21 years of age as follows:

  • Their driving license will be suspended for 2 months for the first DUI offense, and 6 to 12 months for every subsequent offense
  • If they don’t have a driving license yet, they’ll be fined with $200 for the first offense and $400 to $1000 for every subsequent offense
  • They have to complete an alcohol and drugs rehabilitation program and DUI classes




Additional Delaware resources you may need:

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