Delaware Legal Alcohol Driving Limit & Penalties in 2023

Drink and drive laws in Delaware

The legal limit for blood alcohol in Delaware is 0.08%, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. It takes one to two standard-size alcoholic drinks to reach the 0.08% restriction depending on a person’s gender, weight, and other factors.

Please take note that the objective of this piece is to educate readers on Delaware’s laws against drunk driving. It is not the intention of this page to promote drunk driving in any city or state.

According to a 2021 statistics, there were 260 reported crashes in Delaware involving driving under the influence.

DUI, often known as driving under the influence, is prohibited in Delaware and carries serious penalties. The Delaware government has enforced DUI laws and regulations to combat impaired driving in the state.

Check Delaware’s legal BAC limit before getting behind the wheel. If you must drive after drinking, think about utilizing a designated driver or calling a cab.

To stay current on the state’s DUI driving laws and regulations, visit Delaware’s official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Delaware

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety is committed to upholding the law and maintaining road safety. Drivers who fail a field sobriety test and whose blood alcohol content is over Delaware’s legal limit of 0.08% will suffer serious legal and financial penalties.

The Delaware government also launched the Checkpoint Strikeforce project, a public awareness campaign to increase DUI awareness, discourage driving while intoxicated, and lessen the amount of alcohol- or drug-related car accidents.

Blood alcohol levels might vary from one individual to another since alcohol affects women and men differently. For some people, even a small amount of alcohol might cause confusion.

Several factors, like your weight, gender, level of fatigue, and amount of alcohol ingested, may affect your BAC.

Use a BAC calculator or chart to determine how much alcohol you can consume before operating a motor vehicle. Due to the fact that every person’s response to alcohol is unique, you must be aware that these instruments may not suit everyone.

Using a certified alcohol breathalyzer is the most accurate approach to determine your BAC.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Delaware

Each state has a distinct set of regulations concerning drunk driving. Before driving, it’s crucial to check your blood alcohol content to avoid punishment.

If you are found guilty of drunk driving in Delaware, you could suffer administrative and legal repercussions.

To be aware of Delaware’s DUI laws, you may check the DUI driving consequences below.

Implied Consent

When you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Delaware, you must voluntarily submit to a chemical test to assess your level of impairment.

If you refuse to take the test, you risk losing your license and/or your driving privileges for the following period:

  • First Offense: 12 months suspension
  • Second Offense: 18 months suspension
  • Third Offense: 24 months suspension

Your license or driving privilege will be canceled for the following period if you fail to request for a hearing or receive an unfavorable ruling. 

  • First Offense: Three months
  • Second Offense: 12 months
  • Third or Subsequent Offenses: 18 months

DUI Penalties in Delaware

Offense Penalty
First Offense
  • 12 months of jail time
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $1,500
  • Completion of alcohol consultation
  • Participation in alcohol education and rehabilitation program
  • Driver’s license suspension of up to 12 month
Second Offense
  • 60 days to 180 days of jail time
  • $750 to $2,500 fine
  • License suspension of 18 months
  • Completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program
Third Offense
  • One to two years of imprisonment
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Completion of a drug and alcohol abstinence program
  • Completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • License revocation of up to 24 months
Fourth and Subsequent Offense
  • Jail time of two to five years
  • Up to $7,000 fine
  • Completion of drug and alcohol abstinence program 
  • Completion of drug and alcohol treatment program
  • 24 months of license revocation

If the offender’s BAC was between 0.16 and 0.19%, there is an additional 6 months of license suspension.

Administrative Processes for DUI

A police officer will seize your Delaware driver’s license and issue a 15-day temporary license at the time of your DUI arrest.

Your driving privilege will be suspended for a minimum of three months until you directly request an administrative hearing at the DMV within 15 days of your arrest. A request for an administrative hearing is available online on Delaware’s DV website or any DMV location.

All DUI convictions remain on a driver’s record for a minimum of five years.

Alcohol Education Program in Delaware

The educational program’s main objective is to assist offenders in accepting responsibility and ownership of their situation. The following fees are involved in this program:

  • Education class:  $400.00
  • Missed appointment penalty: $50.00
  • Program transfer fee: $50.00
  • Urine drug screens: $35.00
  • Processing Fee and Out-of-state Case Management: $300.00

IID Program

All first-time offenders and repeat offenders who earn a DUI offense must enroll in the IID (Ignition Interlock Device) program.

After serving a minimum mandatory period of revocation, this mandatory program will force all DUI offenders to have the IID put on a vehicle registered in their name or a motor vehicle that is accessible to them.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Delaware?

As previously stated, people react to alcohol in different ways. Men and women have different BACs as well.

ADH or alcohol dehydrogenase is an enzyme that is present in men’s bodies in greater quantities than in women’s. Since their main function is to aid in alcohol absorption, these enzymes play a part in men’s quick metabolism of alcohol. Hence, men metabolize alcohol more quickly than women.

See the information below for a general overview of how much alcohol you can legally consume before driving in Delaware.

Although the parameters listed below are based on studies, they might not apply to everyone because everyone processes alcohol uniquely.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Delaware?

Drink beer and drive in Delaware

BAC charts calculate a person’s post-alcohol BAC based on their weight and the quantity of alcohol they have consumed. These charts show that lighter people often have higher blood alcohol concentrations after taking alcohol.

A 12-ounce (350 ml) beer can result in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% for a male weighing around 72 kg (160 lbs), according to a BAC chart.

In contrast, a woman of the same weight who drinks the same quantity of beer can have a BAC of 0.03%.

For this reason, one to two beer bottles are enough to keep one’s blood alcohol level below Delaware’s legal BAC range.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Delaware?

The ABV (alcohol by volume) of a standard wine glass (142 ml/5 oz) is 12%. Similar to the previous example, a male weighing around 72 kg (160 lbs), can have a BAC of 0.02% after drinking one glass of wine.

On the other hand, a woman of the same weight can have a BAC of 0.03% after drinking the same quantity of wine.

Thus, Delaware’s legal BAC limit can be reached with just two glasses of wine.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Delaware?

A 44 ml (1.5 oz) shot of liquor, such as whiskey or vodka, can have up to 40% ABV. Due to their high alcohol level, intake of excessive distilled spirits is quite tricky for drivers.

If you really must drive after drinking, a shot or two of whiskey or vodka is enough to keep you under Delaware’s legal BAC limit.

Sticking to Impaired Driving Laws in Delaware

All motorists need to be aware of the dangers of driving under influence.

The most sensible and safe course of action is to refrain from driving after drinking. You can never be sure of your blood alcohol content or ability to drive even if you only had a few drinks.

The only accurate way to detect your BAC level is to use an alcohol breathalyzer because everyone processes alcohol differently.

If you’re drunk, there are a variety of transportation options. You may call a taxi, hire an Uber, or ask a buddy to drive you.

If you must drive after drinking, check your blood alcohol content with a reliable alcohol breathalyzer to be sure it is below Delaware’s legal limit.

Also, it is advisable to educate yourself with Delaware’s DUI driving regulations by checking the state’s official website.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.