With strong drunk driving laws, including felony DUIs with harsh consequences, Delaware has been able to keep DUI arrests and fatalities fairly low. However, despite having only 41 drunk driving-related traffic fatalities in 2011, 30 percent of total traffic deaths that year were DUI related. In 2009, Delaware enacted a law that requires first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle. The installation requirement is only voluntary for repeat offenders, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving is currently working to make interlock installation a requirement for all convicted drunk drivers in order to further decrease drunk driving fatalities in the state.
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher in the state of Delaware is charged with driving under the influence (DUI). While third and subsequent DUI offenses are escalated to felonies, consequences of all DUI offenses in Delaware can include a fine, jail time, and driver’s license suspension.
- 1st Offense: $500-$1,500 fine; up to 12 months in jail; 12-month license suspension
- 2nd Offense within 10 years: $750-$2,500 fine; 60 days to 18 months in jail; 18-month license suspension
- 3rd Offense: Up to $5,000 fine; 1 to 2 years in jail; 24-month license suspension
- 4th Offense: Up to $7,000 fine; 2 to 5 years in jail; 60-month license suspension
- 5th Offense: Up to $10,000 fine; 3 to 5 years in jail; 60-month license suspension
- 6th Offense: Up to $10,000 fine; 4 to 8 years in jail; 60-month license suspension
- 7th or Subsequent Offenses: Up to $15,000 fine; 5 to 15 years in jail; 60-month license suspension
License suspension periods increase if the offender’s BAC was 0.15 or higher. For some offenses, minimum jail time can be suspended on the condition that the offender participate in a drug and alcohol abstinence program with at least 90 days of sobriety and a treatment program for at least 3 months.
Drunk drivers who commit the offense while a child under the age of 17 is a passenger in the vehicle will be fined an additional $500 to $1,500 and are required to complete at least 40 hours of community service for a program that benefits children. These consequences increase with second or subsequent offenses.
Ignition Interlock Laws
First-time DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or higher are required to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle as part of their sentencing. All repeat offenders can install the device voluntarily to receive limited driving privileges.