Understanding the laws surrounding first-time DUI charges in Delaware is critical. If you have been charged with a DUI in Delaware for the first time, you may be able to take advantage of Delaware’s first-time DUI offender program. However, aggravating factors can complicate your case as well. Discussing your case with one of Schwartz & Schwartz’s experienced first offense DUI lawyers is an essential first step.


Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limits in Delaware

In Delaware, even having a few drinks can result in becoming legally intoxicated. For individuals under 21, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is .02% or less. For those aged 21 and older, the legal limit is .08% or less. Finally, the legal blood alcohol consumption limit is .04% or less for those with a commercial driver’s license. It’s always possible that someone can become intoxicated after only having one or two drinks. Several different factors affect each person’s blood alcohol level, including the type of alcohol, height, weight, and gender.


Delaware’s First Time DUI Offender Program

It can happen to anyone. One minute you are enjoying happy hour with your co-workers, and the next minute a police officer is pulling you over. You have a blood alcohol content above the threshold of .08%, and now you are facing DUI charges. Delaware takes driving while under the influence of alcohol seriously, but it does understand that people can make a one-time mistake.

When someone is arrested for a DUI for the first time in Delaware, they may qualify for Delaware’s first offender program. For eligible individuals, the first offender program is designed to ease some of the burdens of being convicted of a DUI in Delaware. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify for this program and explain all of the benefits that come with it.


Are You Eligible for the First Time Offender Program?

Before you can take advantage of Delaware’s first offender program, you will need to be eligible. Only those who meet the following requirements are eligible to take advantage of this program:

  • You have never been convicted of a DUI
  • You have not received more than three traffic or moving violations within 24 months of being charged with the DUI
  • The DUI did not result in anyone else has injuries or death
  • Your blood alcohol concentration was less than .15%
  • Your driver’s license was valid and hadn’t been suspended or revoked at the time of your DUI
  • You did not have anyone under 17 in your care at the time you were charged with the DUI


Advantages of Delaware’s First-Time DUI Program

Many benefits come with being accepted into the first offender program in Delaware. If you can successfully complete the first offender program, you will avoid having a DUI conviction on your criminal record. You will also avoid spending any time in jail. The judge overseeing your case may decide to place you on probation, however. If you did not refuse the field sobriety or breathalyzer test, you could apply for a work permit 90 days after your driver’s license suspension begins. You will need to complete your DERP Evaluation and Course.

Even if your license has been restricted for 180 days, you will still need to complete the evaluation and course. After you have completed the DUI class, you can apply to have your full driving privileges reinstated after six months. If you do qualify for the program, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you apply. It is crucial that when you start the program, you intend to finish it because if you do not complete the program, you could face harsher penalties and jail time under Delaware law.


Delaware’s Implied Consent Law

As with many other states, Delaware has implied consent laws. Under Delaware’s implied consent laws, all drivers are assumed to consent to a reasonable field sobriety test at the discretion of a police officer. If an officer stopped a vehicle and has reasonable cause to believe you may be intoxicated, the officer can require you to test your blood alcohol level. Typically, the officer will ask you to complete a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take the test, you will face automatic penalties in Delaware. If this is your first refusal, you will lose your license for one year. You can also face a fine.


Penalties for First-Time DUIs in Delaware

The penalties for a first-time DUI in Delaware are not as severe as those for repeat offenders, but you should take the charges seriously. A first-time DUI conviction in Delaware can result in the following:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines ranging from $230 to $1,150
  • Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Placement of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration was over .15%


Driver’s License Consequences

The court must report all DUI convictions to the Division of Motor Vehicles. In many first-time DUI cases, Delaware will revoke the driver’s license for 12 months. If you had a blood alcohol concentration of at least .14% but less than .20%, your driver’s license will be revoked for 24 months. Before driver’s license reinstatement, you will need to complete a state-approved treatment and rehabilitation. You will also need to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for at least four months and not have any violations with the device.


Discuss Your DUI Case With a Skilled Lawyer

At Schwartz & Schwartz, our criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended many Delaware defendants facing first-time DUI charges. If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time in Delaware, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about our skilled criminal defense team.