Delaware's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Delaware.

Delaware’s drugged driving law is located at 21 Del. C. § 4177 which states: No person shall drive a vehicle …

(a) (2) When the person is under the influence of any drug

(a) (6) When the person’s blood contains, within 4 hours of driving, any amount of an illicit or recreational drug that is the result of the unlawful use or consumption of such illicit or recreational drug or any amount of a substance or compound that is the result of the unlawful use or consumption of an illicit or recreational drug prior to or during driving.

Delaware has what is known as a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition against drugged driving. That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that any prohibited drug (even if it’s just a trace) is in the driver's body while the driver is in control of the vehicle. Actual evidence of impaired driving is not essential as long as the police officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is on something while behind the wheel.

What drugs are prohibited?

Delaware’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of: any controlled substance -- that is, any drug or chemical regulated by the government. A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website. Delaware’s law also includes “any substance or preparation having the property of releasing vapors or fumes which may be used for the purpose of producing a condition of intoxication, inebriation, exhilaration, stupefaction or lethargy or for the purpose of dulling the brain or nervous system.” It’s not an acceptable defense to a drugged driving charge to claim that the driver is legally entitled to use the controlled substance.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Delaware?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Delaware will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Delaware’s DUI laws.

Do Delaware drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood and urine testing. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver.

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