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  • DUI & DWI in Delaware

    Driving under the influence, known as DUI, can happen to anyone who drinks and then drives. In Delaware, it is illegal to drive if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% (or the presence of any illegal or legal drug sufficient to charge you with a DUI), and while you may think you know how much you can handle, you don't.

    The truth is how much you can drink and legally drive will be different every time you go out because how your body responds to alcohol depends on many factors. Variables such as the food you ate that day, how the drink is mixed, your physical activity, and the pace you consume your drinks will all affect your BAC.

    The consequences for DUI are very serious. And remember, drug use and driving is also covered under DUI. If arrested and convicted, you will lose your license, pay fines, attend educational classes, and even go to jail depending on your driving record. DUI has emotional, social, and financial consequences.

    DUI Defined

    When you get pulled over for DUI there are two main categories:

    • Driving under the influence.
    • Refusal to take the DUI tests (breaking implied consent laws).

    You will be charged with DUI if you have a BAC over .08% based on the chemical test. A chemical test will reveal any alcohol or drugs in your system.

    If your BAC is under .08%, the police officer can still arrest you for being under the influence of alcohol. For some folks, a lower BAC can cause you to drive unsafely. It is good to know your limits.

    In the Driver's Manual you learned about implied consent and your automatic agreement to drug and alcohol testing as part of obtaining a Delaware driver's license. Still, you always have the right to refuse testing.

    The BAC test is the basis of most DUI arrests and without the test, arresting police officers may not be able to prove you are DUI. In the end, you will still lose your license if you refuse the chemical tests.

    You may be unfit to drive if you have trouble staying in your lane, don't accelerate evenly, and have impaired reaction time. As a passenger you will want to know the signs of DUI and never ride with anyone who decides to drink and drive.

    Drinking and driving doesn't apply just to cars and trucks. You can be charged with DUI when operating an OHRV or moped too. Your safety and the safety of others around you can be jeopardized when alcohol and motor vehicles are mixed.

    Penalties and Consequences

    The police officer arresting you for DUI will take your driver's license. For the next 15 days you will be using a temporary license to get around. After 15 days, you won't have any driver's license, unless you choose to contest the violation.

    DUI will cost you a lot of money. There are fines for the offense. If you hire a lawyer there will be lawyer fees for the DUI defense. You will have to pay for license reinstatement, which is $143.75. Also, you may face additional criminal fines and penalties.

    To help refresh your driving skills and to enforce the value of responsible driving, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will ask you to take a driver improvement course. For a current list of driver improvement courses, call the revocation section at (302) 744-2508.

    Most DUI convictions also require alcohol education. This course must be completed before you can get your license back. The course involves 16 hours of instruction.

    If you have a history of DUI you can expect to go to jail. Imprisonment is a real hardship for you and your family; this is a serious consequence for a serious violation.

    Getting Your License Back

    When you have the hearing, the court will explain what you have to do before you can get your license back. The exact requirements will depend on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, your driving record, and your plea at the hearing.

    Many drivers seek legal help with DUI arrests because the law can be confusing. A lawyer may help you navigate the process to get an occupational license or even a conditional license.

    If you are a first offender, apply for the conditional license under the First Offense Election Program.

    Through the same First Offender Election Program, you can apply for a full license reinstatement. In addition to waiting 6 months after your revocation, you will need alcohol education, an evaluation, and a reinstatement fee of $143.75.

    To get your license back, you may have to retake the driver's license tests: eye screening, written test, and road test.

    Ignition Interlock Device―IID

    The Ignition Interlock Device (IDD) plays a big role in getting your license back. Some drivers are required to have the device while others can volunteer for it.

    So what is the IID and how does it work? The IID is a device that goes on your car and controls the ignition. Once the IID is installed, the car won't start without a clean breath sample. Don't try to outwit the device, either, because you could find yourself stranded on the side of the road.

    Advantages of the IID program include occupational licenses, otherwise known as a hardship license, to help you get to work. As a DUI first offender, you can volunteer for the IID program and have your license back just 1 month after revocation.

    Underage DUI and Possession

    The drinking laws for youth are different than adults 21 years or older. If you are underage and convicted of DUI at the regular BAC levels, you will lose your driving privilege until you are 21 years old.

    Lower BAC levels have consequences for younger drivers. The DMV has a zero tolerance policy that applies to all drivers younger than 21 years old. Off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs) are popular with young people, and you will need to remember that the DUI rules apply to OHRV and mopeds too.

    There are fines and suspensions outlined in the Driver's Manual for underage drinking and driving. In fact, if you don't have a driver's license but are in control of a vehicle and have had just one drink you can be fined $200 for your 1st offense and up to $1,000 for a subsequent offense.

    Being inexperienced is challenging enough when it comes to road safety; don't make things harder for yourself by introducing alcohol or drugs. Designated drivers are a smart way to remain safe.


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