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What is a DUI and a DWI in Delaware?

Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and other stimulants is a violation of Delaware traffic laws (21 Del. Laws, c. 41, § 9). Individuals with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or persons who operate vehicles under the influence of any combination of alcohol and drugs are guilty of this offense. Together with the state courts, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security enforce road usage rules in Delaware and penalize traffic offenses.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Delaware

In some states, drunk driving and other traffic offenses that involve driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol and drugs are known as DWI. Some states have different meanings and classifications for DUI and DWI; however, some states use both terms interchangeably. In Delaware, DUI is the commonly used term. Under state laws (21 Del. Laws, c. 41, § 9), there are no discernible differences between DUIs and DWIs in Delaware.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in Delaware?

First-time DUI offenders can expect the arresting officers to revoke the offender’s license immediately. The arresting officer may issue a temporary license valid for 15 days. Offenders are typically required to request an administrative hearing at the DMV within 15 days of the arrest. Offenders who do not request an administrative hearing may lose driving privileges for no less than three (3) months. Interested parties may request administrative hearings in person at any DMV facility in the state or online through the DMV website.

Persons arrested for first-time DUI offenses generally face a possible maximum jail term of 12 months, and the applicable fines range from $500 to $1500. The court may suspend the offender’s sentence at the court’s discretion (21 Del. Laws, c. 41, § 9). In place of the sentence, the court may require the offender to complete:

  • A supervised drug and alcohol abstinence program, maintaining 90 consecutive days of sobriety
  • An intensive outpatient or inpatient alcohol and drug treatment program for three (3) months
  • Any other penalty that the court or the Department of Correction deems appropriate

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Delaware?

It is not likely for first DUI offenders to get jail time in Delaware. State laws specify jail terms of no longer than 12 months or fines of between $500 and $1,500 as the penalty for first DUI offenses; however, the court may suspend the jail sentence. Typically, the court penalizes first DUI offenders with fines or probation. Additionally, first DUI offenders may be ordered to install grid interlock devices and complete an alcohol abuse evaluation.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Delaware?

Delaware state laws specify penalties for DUI convictions; however, the severity of the penalty depends on the offense’s nature. Repeated violations typically attract harsher penalties than first DUI offenses.

  • First DUI offenses in Delaware are punishable by fines of no less than $500 and no more than $1,500, jail terms of no more than 12 months, license revocation for 12–18 months, depending on the offender’s blood-alcohol level. Additionally, first DUI offenders in Delaware must install ignition interlock devices, and the court may require the offenders to complete alcohol and drug abuse programs. Delaware does not have a minimum required jail term.
  • Second DUI offenses in Delaware that occur within ten (10) years of the first offense are punishable by fines of no less than $750 and no more than $2,500. Jail terms of between 60 days to 18 months also apply to second DUI offenses in Delaware. The court may suspend the minimum jail term and instead require the offender to complete the Court of Common Pleas Driving Under the Influence Treatment Program, which includes 30 days of community service.
  • Third and subsequent DUI offenses are felony crimes in Delaware.
    • Third DUI offenses are Class G felonies, punishable by fines of no more than $5000, and jail terms of one (1) to two (2) years. Offenders must serve a minimum of three (3) months in jail. The court may suspend up to nine (9) months of the offender’s prison term on the condition that the offender completes a treatment program and a drug and alcohol abstinence program.
    • A fourth DUI offense is a Class E felony, punishable by fines of up to $7,000 and prison terms of between two (2) to five (5) years. The minimum mandatory prison term for a fourth DUI offense in Delaware is six (6) months.
    • Fifth DUI offenses are Class E felony crimes, punishable by fines of no more than $10,000 and prison terms of three (3) to five (5) years. The offender must serve at least half of the prison sentence.
    • Sixth DUI offenses may occur any time after the first five (5) offenses. A sixth DUI offense is a Class D felony in Delaware, punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and prison terms of four (4) to eight (8) years.
    • Seventh DUI offenses may also occur any time after the first six (6) DUI offenses. Seventh DUI offenses in Delaware are Class C felony crimes, punishable by prison terms of between five (5) to 15 years and fines of up to $15,000. For a seventh DUI offense, the court may suspend up to half of the offender’s prison term with a mandatory drug treatment and abstinence program.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Delaware?

In Delaware, DUI offenses stay on the offender’s record for five (5) to ten (10) years. Interested parties may petition the court to expunge or seal eligible records after this time.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Such platforms operate independently of any state government entity. In addition, search engines on such sites may also help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To search for record on a third-party or government website, interested parties may need to provide all or some of the following:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Delaware?

DUI checkpoints are legal in Delaware. However, to be considered legal and fair, Delaware checkpoints must follow specific laws. From January to June, law enforcement conducts checkpoints once each month, and from July to December, law enforcement operates checkpoints every week. The Delaware state website contains up-to-date information about checkpoints in the state’s counties.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI?

In Delaware, the commonly used term for driving while intoxicated or driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and other intoxicants is DUI. Consequently, a DUI is the same as a DWI in the state. The penalties for a DUI vary depending on the nature of the offense and the presence of aggravating factors.

What is an Aggravated DUI in Delaware?

In Delaware, an aggravated DUI carries enhanced penalties; that is, such offenses have other penalties in addition to ones specified for DUI offenses. Examples of aggravated DUI offenses include underage DUI, child endangerment, vehicular assault, and vehicular homicide. The Delaware courts penalize aggravated DUI offenses with higher fines, increased jail terms, and other penalties as the courts see fit.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Delaware?

In Delaware, the commonly used term for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and other intoxicants, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated, is DUI. When a person gets a DUI in Delaware, they face license revocation, fines, and possible jail term. The court’s sentence typically depends on the nature of the offense and the offender’s criminal history.

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