Delaware drunk-driving laws do not fool around. When an officer arrests you for a DUI offense, they will take your driver’s license if it is from Delaware. If your license is from out of state, you will be in trouble with your home state once they learn of the charges. In the meantime, your Delaware driving privileges are at stake.
The officer will give you a temporary paper license that is valid for 15 days. During that time, you can schedule an administrative hearing at the DMV. If you don’t have a hearing, your license will be automatically suspended for at least:
- 12 months for a first offense
- 18 months for a second offense
- 24 months for a third offense
- 60 months for a fourth or further offense
These periods may be longer, depending on your situation. But if you work with a Delaware DUI attorney, they may be able to help you shorten your license suspension or even get the charges dropped. It all depends on the circumstances of the stop and your own driving record.
The Arrest and the Charges: Will They Stand?
In order for a DUI charge to hold up in court, the officer needs to show that they had:
- Probable cause to stop you. Unless you were at a DUI roadblock, something about your driving should have given them a reason for stopping you.
- Probable cause to test you. This could include the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, or another suggestion of intoxication.
- A valid chemical test result. Breathalyzers can be fooled by legal substances, including mouthwash, and even by some medical conditions. The device itself may not have been used correctly, especially for a spot result in the field.
- Sufficient evidence—if there is no solid BAC result—that you were “under the influence” as a driver.
An experienced DUI attorney can review your stop and your case for any evidence that your charges should not stick. However, even if the prosecutor’s case is stronger, there are still options to reduce your penalty period.
First Offenders Program
If you have never had a DUI before, you may be able to apply for your license in as little as 30 days. You may qualify for a First Offense Election (FOE) if you:
- Have never had a DUI offense
- Have had fewer than three moving violations in the past two years
- Did not injure anyone else while driving under the influence
- Had a BAC of lower than .15
- Drove on a valid license
- Did not have a minor under 17 years old in the vehicle with you
Taking a FOE means you cannot contest the charge. The court will place you on probation. You waive your right to a hearing at the DMV over your license, which will be entered as revoked for a year’s time. You will need to complete an alcohol evaluation program, together with a rehabilitation course, if the court requires it. But if you do not have grounds to challenge the charges, this may be the right choice for you.
You will need to wait at least a month, but after that, you can apply to drive again under an IID license.
Ignition Interlock Devices and Licensing
Delaware allows many DUI offenders to drive under a specially issued ignition interlock device (IID) license while they wait for their license revocations to expire. An IID does not allow a car’s engine to start until its breathalyzer confirms that the driver’s BAC is below the legal limit. A second offender can apply for an IID license after 60 days; a third offender must wait 90 days, and for any further offense, the waiting period is 6 months. An offender with an IID license may be able to receive their driver’s license back earlier if they meet certain conditions.
To receive an IID license, you must be a Delaware resident with a current Delaware license, without having had a license revoked for disqualifying reasons in another jurisdiction. You also need state-certified IIDs installed on every vehicle you intend to use. You must pay the installation and rental costs yourself, although there are options for aid. At this time, installation costs about $70, and leasing costs vary.
An IID license period can be extended, and the license may even be revoked, for someone who:
Tampers with or disables an IID, or attempts to do so
- Receives more than 5 points on their license during the year
- Refuses or fails to take random drug/alcohol tests required by the DMV
- Does not keep scheduled appointments with the DMV
- Does not keep scheduled maintenance appointments for the IID
- Commits any other violation in the program
If the IID finds a BAC over .05, you will also have to wait longer. However, if you use the IID properly and fulfill all court requirements, you may be eligible for an earlier reinstatement of your license.
Where to Start
If you have caught a DUI charge in Delaware, don’t face this time in your life alone. The regulations are confusing, and you may accidentally give up your rights and opportunities for a better outcome. Talk to the Delaware DUI Defender today, and let us see if Attorney Matt Stiller can help you. Having a DUI attorney on board can get you back on the road as soon as possible—which may just change your future. Call us at 302-678-8700 to schedule a free case review in our Dover or Wilmington offices.