Delaware Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Delaware?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Delaware, a school bus driver is a commercial driver.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .02 or more.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Delaware

  • First-time offenders face a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months, a fine ranging from $500 to $1,500, or both. Any period of imprisonment imposed under this paragraph may be suspended. These offenders are also required to complete an alcohol consultation and a course of instruction and/or a rehabilitation program, which may include confinement of up to six months and a fee of up to $1,150. Currently, the driver’s license revocation period is 12 months. Effective July 10, 2007, however, if the offender’s BAC measured .15 to .19, the revocation period will 18 months; and if the offender’s BAC measured .20 or more, the revocation period will be 24 months.
  • A person who commits a second DWI within 10 years of the first conviction faces a the term of imprisonment of 60 days to 18 months. The minimum sentence for a person sentenced under this paragraph may not be suspended. The fine ranges from $750 to $2,500. The driver’s license revocation period for second-time offenders is 18 months. If, however, the offender’s BAC was between .16 and .19, the revocation period is 24 months. If the offender’s BAC was .20 or greater, the revocation period is 30 months. Effective July 10, 2007, the revocation period for a second-time offender will be 24 months. If, however, the offender’s BAC was .20 or more, the revocation period will be 30 months.
  • A person who commits a third DWI within five years of the previous convictions faces a term of imprisonment of one to two years and a fine up to $5,000. The sentencing court may suspend up to 9 months of any minimum sentence set forth in this paragraph provided, however, that any portion of a sentence suspended pursuant to this paragraph shall include participation in both a drug and alcohol abstinence program and a drug and alcohol treatment program. The driver’s license revocation period for third-time offenders is 24 months. If, however, the offender’s BAC was between .16 and .19, the revocation period is 30 months. If the offender’s BAC was .20 or greater, the revocation period is 36 months.
  • For a fourth or subsequent offense within any time period, the term of imprisonment is two to five years and the offender can be fined up to $7,000. The sentencing court may suspend up to 18 months of any minimum sentence set forth in this paragraph provided, however, that any portion of a sentence suspended pursuant to this paragraph shall include participation in both a drug and alcohol abstinence program and a drug and alcohol treatment program. The driver’s license revocation period is 24 months. If, however, the offender’s BAC was between .16 and .19, the revocation period is 30 months. If the offender’s BAC was .20 or greater, the revocation period is 36 months. Effective July 10, 2007, anyone who has been convicted of DWI four or more times will have their license revoked for 60 months, regardless of their blood alcohol concentration.
  • Any person who is convicted of a subsequent DWI offense will also be ordered to complete an alcohol consultation and complete a program of education or rehabilitation which may include in-patient treatment for up to 15 months and a fee for the treatment of up to the maximum fine for the offense.

  • For a fifth offense occurring any time after 4 prior offenses, a person will be fined up to $ 10,000 and imprisoned from 3-5 years.
  • For a sixth offense occurring any time after 5 prior offenses, a person will be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned from 4-8 years.
  • For a seventh offense occurring any time after 6 prior offenses, or for any subsequent offense, a person will be be fined up to $15,000 and imprisoned from 5-15 years.

Other Drunk Driving Penalties

Selling Alcohol to a Person Under 21

Furnishing Alcohol to a Person Under 21

Dram Shop

Additional Penalties for Drunk Drivers Carrying Passengers Under 17

If a person is convicted of DWI while a person under 17 was in the vehicle, that person is subject to the following additional penalties:

First-time offenders will be required to pay an additional fine ranging from $230 to $1,150. These offenders will also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service work in a program benefiting children.

Second-time offenders will be required to pay an additional fine ranging from $750 to $2,500. These offenders will also be sentenced to perform at least 80 hours of community service work in a program benefiting children. These terms apply to all subsequent like offenses as well.

Ignition Interlock

  • The Division of Motor Vehicles may offer, on a voluntary basis, participation in the Ignition Interlock Device Program to eligible first-time offenders who submit a written application on the forms designated by the Division. A participant's license revocation imposed by law shall automatically be suspended upon the participant's entry into the IID Program and shall be suspended for the duration thereof.
  • A person convicted of a subsequent offense shall, 12 months from the effective date of revocation of that person's driver's license, install an ignition interlock device in all motor vehicles registered in the name of that person for the remainder of the revocation time period. If at any time after the 12 months have elapsed but before the end of the revocation period, the person registers a motor vehicle(s) in the person's name, that person shall immediately install an ignition interlock device in such vehicle(s).

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with Delaware’s DWI laws, a person who holds a commercial driver’s license who is convicted of DWI for the first time while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. If, however, the driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the offense, the disqualification period is three years. A commercial driver who commits a second DWI while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

In addition to other penalties that may apply, a person under 21 who commits a first DWI will receive a driver’s license revocation of two months. A person who commits a second offense, will receive a revocation of six to 12 months.

If the underage person does not have a driver's license and/or privileges, the person shall be fined $200 for the first offense and not less than $400 nor more than $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

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Selling Alcohol to a Person Under 21

It is a crime to sell alcohol to a person under 21. Anyone who violates this law is subject to pay a fine of $250 to $500. Failure to pay the fine carries a 30-day prison term.

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Furnishing Alcohol to a Person Under 21

It is a crime to give alcohol to a person under 21. It is also a crime to permit a person under 21 to drink alcohol. Anyone who violates this law is subject to pay a fine of $100 to $500. Additionally, first-time offenders may be ordered to perform community service for 40 hours and may be imprisoned for up to 30 days. A second violation carries a $500 to $1,000 fine. Second-time offenders may also be ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and may be imprisoned for up to 60 days.

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Dram Shop

Delaware does not have a Dram Shop Act.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

Please note: All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state of Pennsylvania. We also have lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, and West Virginia and we associate with experienced attorneys in other states.

The materials at this web site have been prepared by our Law Firm for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. These materials do not, and are not, intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The information provided at this site is subject to change without notice. Although we try to keep our site current and accurate, you should not rely on this information or its applicability to any specific circumstances without speaking with an attorney.
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