What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in Delaware?

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Things to remember...
  • Delaware law allows drivers seven DUI chances
  • Delaware’s lookback period is forever
  • An ignition interlock device is not required for anyone convicted of their first DUI in Delaware

DUI is defined as driving under the influence no matter which state you’re in, and it’s against the law in every state. Driving under the influence is dangerous, it’s deadly, and it is punished in numerous ways.

When you are caught driving under the influence, you have options. However, each option comes with its own set of consequences. You can take the chemical or blood test on the scene or at the police station or you can refuse it.

The choice is yours, and you must know what’s happening.

The problem with a DUI arrest in Delaware is you don’t typically know how the arrest affects you. Not only does it come with license suspension and large monetary fines, it can also come with some other long-lasting effects.

Your car insurance, for example, will go up automatically. You can shop around for rates to find one that’s more affordable, but a DUI on your record follows you even when you compare rates. Find the best rates possible by comparing quotes using our tool above.

There’s a lot to learn about DUI law, and it’s helpful to know before you make the mistake of assuming you’re okay to drive.

Delaware DUI Laws

Delaware law is strict regarding DUI laws. Not only can you be arrested for DUI if you’ve been drinking, you can also be arrested if you’re driving after taking illegal, legal, or prescription drugs whether they’re prescribed to you or someone else.

Another strict policy Delaware lawmakers are serious about is the lookback period for all DUI arrests.

In other states, a lookback period resets after several years. Lookback is defined by law as the length of time in which a court can look back into your driving record to count DUI arrests. In some states, it’s 10 years.

For example, if you were arrested in 2001 for a DUI in another state with a 10-year lookback period, your 2017 DUI arrest is now your first DUI offense because your record is wiped after 10 years. This is not true in Delaware because the state lookback period is forever.

– BAC Levels in Delaware

One more pertinent law in Delaware is your BAC level. This is your blood-alcohol content. It’s the amount of alcohol found in your blood when you take a chemical test during a routine DUI arrest.

The legal limit is 0.08 percent in every state, but only if you are 21 or older and not a commercial driver.

If you are younger than 21, the legal limit is 0.02 percent. If you are a commercial driver, the legal limit is 0.04 percent. It’s also important to know every person handles their alcohol differently.

Just because you don’t feel drunk doesn’t mean you’re not. Your BAC might be higher than the legal limit without your knowledge even if you only consumed two drinks over a period of time or if you consumed five in an hour. You just never know.

– First-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

If you’re arrested once for DUI in Delaware, you face serious charges if you’re found guilty. You’re going to jail for up to six months. Your fines are between $500 and $1,500, and you might find your license suspended anywhere from one to two years.

You will not be issued in Ignition Interlock Device (IID) if you are only arrested for a DUI once.

– Second-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

Your second DUI arrest comes with harsher penalties if you’re found guilty. Jail time is increased the second time. It’s now a minimum of two months and a maximum of 18-months.

Fines are anywhere from $750 to $2,500, and your license is suspended for 24 to 30 months. A judge might also require you drive with an IID for 24-months.

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– Third-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

If you’re arrested for a third time for driving under the influence in Delaware, penalties are far more serious. Your minimum jail sentence is one year, and it can last as long as two years. You’re paying fines as little as $1,500 but not more than $5,000.

Your license is suspended for two to three years, and you will have an IID installed in your vehicle for two years.

– Fourth-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

Fourth-time offenders are treated harshly in Delaware. Jail time is two to five years, and fines begin at $3,000. They can reach as much as $7,000. Your license is suspended for five years if you are arrested a fourth time, and your vehicle is fitted with an IID for four years.

No Delaware court looks kindly upon someone who drives under the influence for the fourth time.

– Fifth-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

Anyone found guilty of driving under the influence a fifth time in Delaware is automatically charged with a Class E Felony.

This results in a fine of $3,500 to $10,000, three to five years in jail. License suspension and IID requirements become the sole discretion of the judge in this individual case.

– Sixth-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

If someone is permitted to keep their license after five DUI arrests in Delaware, the arrest is automatically classified as a Class D Felony. Fines for this offense start at $5,000 can reach as much as $10,000.

You will spend at least five years in jail, but your sentence will not exceed eight years. License suspension and IIDs are determined in court by the judge.

– Seventh-Time DUI Arrest in Delaware

The seventh arrest in Delaware is unlikely to occur as most judges will not allow a repeat offender with so many DUI arrests to continue driving legally.

On the small chance someone is permitted the opportunity to continue driving after six DUI arrests, however, fines and penalties increase substantially. It’s now a Class C Felony punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in fines, and up to $15,000 in fines.

The jail time for a seventh DUI arrest is at least 10 years, but the time you spend in jail will not exceed 15 years.

Test Refusal in Delaware

You are within your legal right to refuse to take any sort of DUI test if asked in Delaware. However, there are penalties for this.

The state law recognizes implied consent, which means it’s implied you know you are required to take a test if an officer suspects you are under the influence.

You may state firmly you are not taking tests but in doing so, you also acknowledge you recognize the law regarding refusal. It means you automatically face the following

  • arrest
  • fines
  • suspended license

You automatically lose your license for one year each time you refuse to submit to any sort of testing when pulled over.

There are fines associated with refusal as well, but they are dependent on the sentencing and the determination of the judge present when you are sentenced. Fines tend to be less expensive if this is your first refusal as well as your first DUI charge.

Additional Financial Downfalls of DUI Arrest in Delaware

Delaware law is strict regarding DUIs. There are financial downfalls you might not even realize exist in addition to the fines you pay when you’re arrested and charged with a DUI.

One of the most prominent and most serious financial downfalls is associated with your vehicle insurance. It’s more difficult to obtain insurance when you have a DUI on your record.

Insurance companies aren’t interested in insuring a driver who is willing to drink and drive. It’s expensive, it’s risky, and it’s even within an insurance company’s right to refuse to insure you at all if you have a DUI on your record.

It’s unlikely a company will refuse to insure you with one DUI, but it’s more common if you’re arrested and convicted of driving under the influence more than once.

Even when you shop around to compare rates, it’s difficult to find affordable insurance if you’ve been convicted of a DUI. You might find some companies offer lower rates than others, but it’s not going to be as low as the rates you get when you are free of any DUI arrests.

Understanding Delaware DUI Penalties

Driving under the influence is dangerous for more than one reason. The most important thing you must understand is driving under the influence puts your life and the lives of everyone else on the road at risk.

It’s deadly. It’s also costly. It can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, years of freedom, and it can cost you financially in other ways.

Don’t drink and drive, and understand what it means to you, your family, your insurance, and your freedom if you choose to get behind the wheel under the influence.

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