Delaware DUI Laws 2023 (Everything You Should Know)

Delaware DUI Laws (Everything You Should Know)

We all know that DUI is very dangerous. 

But how does the state law see this issue?

What are the Delaware DUI laws implemented?

Are the penalties harsh enough?

Today, we will learn everything you should know about the Delaware DUI laws this 2023. We’ll talk about the actual laws, the penalties, the dangers, and much more. 

So shall we? 

DUI Laws in Delaware

Delaware DUI Laws

Before anything else, you first must know what BAC is.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), as the name suggests, represents the amount of alcohol you have in your bloodstream. The more you drink, the higher it becomes.

Several factors affect your BAC. These include the number of drinks you’ve had and the rate you consumed them. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at the actual DUI laws. 

You are considered drunk driving in Delaware if:

  • Your BAC level reaches 0.08% and you are 21 years old or older
  • Your BAC level reaches 0.04% and you hold a CDL
  • Your BAC level reaches 0.02% and you are under 21 years old

If the police catch you operating a vehicle with these BAC levels, you may be arrested for drunk driving.

In some cases, you can still be arrested and charged with DUI even if your BAC levels don’t reach the ones we stated. 

Plus, it is illegal to refuse a breath or blood test. Doing so could lead you to a DUI charge, as well as several penalties.  

Delaware DUI Penalties 

The penalties for DUI offenses in Delaware are not light. These include the loss of your license and court sanctions.

Having one DUI is bad enough. Getting a second (or more) is worse. 

Here is the list of penalties for first time and repeat offenders:

OffenseLoss of LicenseCourt Sanctions
First:12 months — BAC of less than 0.15% 18 months — BAC between 0.15% to 0.19%24 months — BAC of more than 0.20% or refusal to undergo a chemical testA fine ranging from $500 to $1,500 and / or
Up to 12 months of jail time
Second:18 months — BAC of less than 0.15% 24 months — BAC between 0.15% to 0.19%30 months — BAC of more than 0.20% or refusal to undergo a chemical testFine: $750 to $2,50060 days to 18 months jail time (the court may suspend the minimum sentence if you complete a DUI Treatment Program)
Third:24 months — BAC of less than 0.15% 30 months — BAC between 0.15% to 0.19%36 months — BAC of more than 0.20% or refusal to undergo a chemical testClass G FelonyFine: $5,000 or more1 to 2 years jail time
Fourth:60 monthsClass G FelonyFine: Up to $7,0002 to 5 years jail time
Five:60 monthsClass D FelonyFine: Up to $10,0003 to 5 years jail time
Six:60 monthsClass D FelonyFine: Up to $10,0004 to 8 years jail time
Seven:60 monthsClass D FelonyFine: Up to $15,0005 to 15 years jail time

What Happens When You’re Pulled Over for DUI

If you get pulled over for driving under the influence, the police officer will confiscate your license (unless you carry a CDL). He’ll issue you a temporary license that’s valid for 15 days. You’re supposed to use this time to request an administrative hearing.

If you don’t request a hearing within this period, the state revokes your license.

Now, if the hearing pushes through, the court determines the following:

  • Whether or not the police offer had probable cause to pull you over because of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If there was probable cause, whether or not there is enough evidence to show that you were driving while impaired.
  • Whether or not you refused to undergo a chemical test, even after being advised of the consequences.

You’ll lose your driving privileges if the administrative hearing is ruling against you. 

The table below shows the length of time your license remains revoked.

OffenseDue to Probable CauseDue to Refusing a Chemical Test
First Offense:3 months12 months
Second Offense:12 months18 months
Succeeding Offenses:18 months24 months

When Can You Drive After Drinking?

Driving after a couple of drinks is never a good idea. No, it does not matter how many you drank.

Although you’re not legally drunk until your BAC hits 0.08% (if over 21 years old and don’t carry a CDL), it doesn’t mean you should push it to that extent. You can already put yourself and your passengers in danger even with a lower BAC. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BAC of 0.02% already diminishes your ability to drive. You’ll have challenges tracking a moving target or multi-tasking. Unfortunately, both are crucial when you’re behind the wheel.

If you’ve been drinking, the best thing to do is not drive. Even if you have coffee, exercise, or take a cold shower, it won’t help.

Only time can sober you up. There is no shortcut.

Do Drugs Affect Your Ability to Drive?

Alcohol isn’t the only thing that can impair your ability to drive. Drugs can also have a debilitating effect.

And these don’t necessarily have to be prescription drugs. Even those you can purchase over-the-counter are just as dangerous.

Pills for headaches, colds, or allergies can make you drowsy. The same goes for medication to help you calm your nerves. 

Uppers — or pep pills — can make you feel more alert for a period. However, it may cause you to have headaches and feel dizzy or nervous after a while. You may have difficulty concentrating and seeing straight.

Prescription drugs need a doctor’s instruction for a reason. Their effects are similar to alcohol — it affects your judgment, reflexes, vision, and alertness.

Dangers of DUI

Drunk driving is SUPER dangerous!

This is because alcohol can affect your decision-making skills. 

Another effect of alcohol is that it slows down your reflexes and makes you less alert. Judging distances and other vehicle’s speed becomes challenging, increasing the likelihood of getting into an accident. 

Even if drunk driving doesn’t lead to a collision, the effects of a DUI can be extensive. At the very least, you’ll have to pay higher insurance premiums.

According to MoneyGeek, drivers with DUIs pay an average of $2,591 annually for coverage. That’s $1,108 higher than what a driver with a clean record spends.

In worst-case scenarios, you’ll lose driving privileges and may even spend time behind bars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got some questions? Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked ones. 

What is the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program?

An IID is a gadget the DMV installs in your car. It acts as a breathalyzer and will prevent your vehicle from starting if your breath has traces of alcohol.

Eligible drivers can fill out an application and submit the necessary documents. These consist of proof of registration and insurance of the vehicle where the DMV installed the IID.

Here is the timeline for your eligibility and how long you must keep the IID:

OffenseEligibility(how soon you can apply)Time Requirement(how long you must keep it)
First:Prior to a conviction — immediately
After conviction — 30 to 45 days, depending on BACAfter conviction, non-FOE — 12 to 23 months
4 months
Second:16 to 28 months, depending on BAC60 days
Third:21 to 33 months, depending on BAC90 days
Fourth:At least 54 months6 months

How long does a DUI stay on your record in Delaware?

A DUI conviction stays on your record for 5 years. This may affect job opportunities and your insurance premiums.

Can a DUI be dismissed in Delaware?

There are several possible reasons why courts dismiss DUI charges. These are:

  • Lack of a legal basis — Officers must have a reason for detaining you. They cannot pull you over because of a hunch.
  • Lack of Probably Cause — The police cannot arrest you for a DUI without probable cause. They usually gather this from your demeanor when they pull you over. Slurred words, bloodshot eyes, or smelling of alcohol could contribute to it.
  • Improper Chemical Testing — An example is improper maintenance of the device used to conduct the test.


Whew, that was a lot, wasn’t it?

The subject of driving under the influence in Delaware is serious and deep. It comes with harsh penalties and consequences. 

This is because there is nothing more crucial than ensuring your safety on the road. 

So now that you know the laws, the penalties, and everything else, always remember what people always say — don’t drink and drive!

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