Delaware DUI laws are pretty severe, and here’s why. Penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Delaware can range from mild to severe. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may be concerned about what this means for your future, your finances, and your freedom. Understanding what constitutes a DUI, what happens when you get pulled over and what penalties you may face is the first step in being prepared to defend yourself against the charge.
Delaware DUI Laws
The law is clear in Delaware when it comes to driving while under the influence. Even a small amount of alcohol or drugs in your system can mean penalties that range from fines to jail time and loss of driving privileges. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)is .08 percent or higher, you are considered legally impaired in Delaware. You can be charged and convicted of DUI in Delaware if your BAC is below the legal limit if it is determined that you are impaired enough to be a safety hazard to yourself or others. In Delaware, you can be convicted of DUI with any amount of drugs or alcohol in your system.
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
According to Delaware DUI laws, drivers are not allowed to have blood alcohol concentration limits of .08 or higher. For a 160 pound person, four drinks of hard liquor, beer or wine are enough to send your BAC over the legal limit. This number can vary based on a person’s physical makeup or gender. Women often have a lower threshold for DUI than men. There are myriad factors that determine how much alcohol a person will absorb into their bloodstream, so it is a good idea to avoid driving if you have been drinking any amount of alcohol.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
If you get pulled over for driving while under the influence, the police officer will take steps to determine the extent of your impairment. The officer may perform a Breathalyzer™, or ask you to take a field sobriety test. If you fail any of these tests, you will likely be arrested and charged with driving while under the influence.
On some occasions, there might be DUI “checkpoints,” in which officers stop cars along a certain point and check for signs of drivers who are under the influence. If you are stopped in a checkpoint and the police find that your blood alcohol content is above the legal allowable limit, you may be detained or arrested on the spot.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
According to Delaware DUI laws, you must take a BAC test if you have been arrested for being suspected of driving while under the influence. The “implied consent” law means that you cannot refuse a test if you are arrested. If, however, you do refuse, you will automatically lose your driving privileges.
You can, however, refuse a field sobriety test if you have been pulled over and not arrested. If you refuse to take the test, the police officer can still arrest you, at which point you will be required to take the test.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
You cannot refuse to take a BAC test after you have been arrested. There are steep penalties including additional charges, license suspension, and fines if you refuse. In addition, Delaware laws allow the police to take reasonable steps to ensure that you comply including holding you down, shooting you with a stun gun or using restraints.
If this is your first offense, the penalty for refusing to take a BAC is one-year revocation of the license if you are over the age of 21, two years if you are underage. The penalties are the same for the second and third offense.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
The term “wet reckless” refers to a charge in which you are not charged with DUI but are charged with driving recklessly while under the influence of some amount of drugs or alcohol. This charge is usually used when there is reckless driving but nobody is hurt and there is no accident. Most people who successfully use this tactic have a BAC that is on the borderline. If you have no prior convictions for DUI, you may be able to plead to a “wet reckless” charge. You will need a skilled attorney who understands this to help you to make this plea.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
The penalties for DUI in Delaware range from no jail time to five years in prison. There are also fines of up to $7,000, depending on the nature of the offense. In addition, you may lose your drivers license, be forced into a rehab program or have to drive with an Ignition Interlock Device™(IID).
First Offense DUI
A person who is charged with DUI and has no prior convictions can face one of the several penalties. The judge can order the offender to drive with an Ignition Interlock Device™ for five months. This device requires a test of your blood alcohol content before you can start your car. This first offender program allows the driver to avoid hefty fines and jail time.
If you are not accepted for the first offender program Delaware DUI laws stipulate that you may face up to six months in jail, fines of $500 to $1,500 and a license suspension of up to 24 months.
Second offense DUI
According to Delaware DUI laws, a person who has one prior conviction is subject to two to eight months in jail, fines of $750 to $2,500 and a license suspension of 24 to 36 months. After 24 months, offenders may apply to drive with an Ignition Interlock Device™. There is a lifetime “lookback” period that will determine how many offenses you have had. The court will charge you with a second or subsequent offense regardless of how much time has passed.
Third Offense DUI
If you have two prior convictions, you will face sentences of 1-2 years in jail, penalties and fines of $1,500 to $2,500 and license suspension. After two prior offenses, Delaware DUI laws state that your license will be suspended for 24-36 months. You can apply for an IID™ after 24 months.
Fourth Offense DUI
With three prior convictions, you will be sentenced to 2-5 years in prison. Fines and penalties range from $3,000 to $7,000 and your license will be suspended for up to 60 months (5 years). You may apply for an IID™ after 48 months.
When it comes to driving while under the influence in Delaware, penalties can run the gamut from second chance programs to steep fines and jail time. Understanding Delaware DUI laws will help you to make the right choices when defending against these charges.