First DUI in Delaware
It is critical to know the various laws surrounding a first offense DUI in Delaware. A first offense can be less serious than a second or subsequent offense, but there are various types of violations to be aware of and aggravating factors that can complicate the situation.
You might think that a Delaware first offense is not a matter that requires help from a lawyer, but you would be incorrect. Even a first offense can create situations that require legal guidance. As in many different kinds of cases, not just in Delaware but throughout the United States, your legal rights are best protected if you elect not to make any official statements without having a lawyer’s consultation available first.
Delaware First Time DUI Offender Program
If someone is arrested for DUI in Delaware and it is their first time being charged with Driving Under the Influence they may qualify for Delaware’s First Offender program. Unfortunately just one drink too many at dinner or happy hour can place you over the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) threshold of .08 in the State of Delaware. While drinking and driving is a very serious matter, Delaware law acknowledges that you may have made a “one-time” mistake and offers a First Offender Program. For those who qualify, Delaware’s First Offender Program is designed to ease the many burdens of getting pulled over for DUI in Delaware.
Advantages of the First DUI Program
There are numerous benefits to applying for enrollment in the First Offender Program in Delaware. If you are accepted, and successfully complete the program you will not have a DUI conviction on your record. You will also not face jail time. If necessary you may be placed on probation by the courts however. Provided you did not refuse the breathalyzer of field sobriety tests you can apply for a work permit 90 days after your drivers license suspension started, with completion of the DERP Evaluation and Course. This is true even though your license being restricted for a period of 180 days. Once you successfully complete your DUI class you may apply for full reinstatement of your driving privileges after 6 months. A skilled Wilmington Delaware DUI Defense Lawyer can answer any questions you may have regarding Delaware’s First Time DUI Offender program.
Eligibility Requirements for Delaware’s First Time Offender Program
Below are the eligibility criteria for Delaware’s First Offender Program:
1. You have never been convicted of a DUI
2. You have not received more then 3 traffic or moving violations within 24 months of the DUI
3. If your DUI involved an automobile accident no one was hurt, injured or killed
4. Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was below .15%
5. Your drivers license was valid and not suspended or revoked at time of DUI
6. You did not have anyone under age 17 in your car at time of DUI
The Basics of Delaware Implied Consent Laws
Delaware joins many states throughout the United States in having a legal expectation known as Implied Consent. Under Implied Consent, all motorists are assumed to consent to a reasonable field sobriety test at a law enforcement officer’s discretion.
This means that if an officer stops you and has reasonable cause to believe you may be intoxicated, he or she can elect to require you to take a test of your blood alcohol level. In Delaware, this usually takes the form of a breathalyzer test.
If you choose not to take the breathalyzer test, then Delaware law provides for automatic penalties. These include a fine and automatic loss of your license for a given period of time. The period of time depends upon whether or not it is your first time refusing a test of your sobriety.
— Your first refusal will typically cause you to lose your license for one year (12 months).
— Your second will result in a loss for 18 months.
— The third will mandate a loss for 24 months.
— Subsequent offenses typically lead to a loss of 24 months each.
It is generally not to your benefit to refuse a sobriety test. In fact, taking such a test can sometimes, but rarely, provide you with important evidence to back up your case in a court of law. Although you may be found to be over the legal limit for blood alcohol content, you should be aware of the way the test is administered and how the officer treats you during the proceedings. Inform your lawyer of anything that seemed unusual. If a law officer fails to uphold your rights while administering a test, it may be thrown out.
It is important to note that, should an officer choose, he or she can “take reasonable steps” in order to administer a test. In the past, Delaware courts have interpreted this as allowing for the use of force. This can permit an officer to restrain you and potentially even to use items such as pepper spray if he or she feels threatened.
Knowing BAC Limits In Delaware
It is important to know how much alcohol you can legally drink before you are considered intoxicated. The best policy is to drink absolutely no alcohol whatsoever if you plan to be behind the wheel. However, it is important to understand that even a few drinks can result in becoming legally intoxicated in Delaware. A large proportion of DUI and DWI cases in Delaware are the result of unintentional overconsumption.
— For individuals under 21, the legal BAC limit in Delaware is .02% or less.
— For those who are 21 or older, the legal limit is .08% or less.
— For those holding a commercial license, the limit is .04% or less.
Remember it is possible to become legally intoxicated after just one or two drinks. Blood alcohol level depends on a number of interrelated factors, which include the kind of drink, your weight, your height, and your gender. Generally speaking, women will become legally intoxicated slightly faster than men. Individuals of lighter weight will become intoxicated faster as well.
Delaware First Offense Election Program
If you have a clean driving record in Delaware and are dealing with your first DUI under that state’s laws, then you are probably eligible for Delaware’s First Offense Election Program. This program is available to people who are first-time DUI offenders and whose DUI did not result in bodily injury or death to another. There are also BAC limits and moving violation requirements.
When choosing the First Offense Election, you can potentially have your Delaware driving record wiped clean of the offense if you meet various requirements set by the courts. The FOE program allows you to restore your driving privileges after one month if you complete an alcohol evaluation and are enrolled in a state approved alcohol program. Note that, in order to qualify, you must have agreed to take the field sobriety test if it was requested.
Understanding The Difference Between First Offense DUI vs DWI
While some people may be confused about the definitions of DUI and DWI, in many cases these are interchangeable terms. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, while DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Sometimes, Driving Under the Influence is used as a more general term that can indicate substances other than alcohol, such as cannabis. The penalties for this kind of infraction are different, and have a tendency to be much more severe, than those that refer to driving under the influence of alcohol. If unsure, consult the services of a qualified Delaware area attorney who has an expertise in the matter. Your legal rights should be protected throughout every step of a case!
First Time Drunk Driving Penalties In Delaware
A first time DUI offense can result in:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Fines of $230.00-$1,150.00
- License revocation; length of time depends on blood alcohol content (BAC)
- Ignition interlock device mandatory if BAC is over .15
Contact a Wilmington, Delaware DUI Lawyer
Delaware DUI Defense Lawyer Brian J. Chapman proudly serves those charged with Driving Under the Influence all over Delaware. Regardless of whether it is your first offense, subsequent offense or you were driving under the influence of drugs, Mr. Chapman will do his best to obtain you a very favorable outcome and protect your rights. Please call Mr. Chapman at 302-455-0505. You may also email a Delaware DUI Defense Attorney here.The Law Office of Brian J. Chapman represents those accused of DUI, Traffic Violations and Criminal cases throughout all of Delaware including: Wilmington, Newark, New Castle, Bear, Glasgow, Stanton, Newport, Christiana, Middletown. Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Seaford, Georgetown, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Milton, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach & Fenwick Island.
Mr. Chapman also handles DUI & Traffic Violation cases occurring on Delaware roads, highways and interstates including I-95, I-495, I-295, Route 13, Route 113, Route 24, Route 30, Route 16, Route 1, Route 2, Route 4, Route 9 and Route 273.