When investigating someone for driving under the influence (DUI), it's common for an officer to ask the person to take a breath, blood, or urine test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver's system. The driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the concentration of drugs in the driver's blood is often used to prove a DUI in court.
This article gives an overview of Delaware's implied consent law and the consequences of an unlawful refusal.
Delaware's implied consent law specifies that any person who holds a Delaware driver's license or operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a blood, breath, or urine test. For a DUI arrest to be lawful, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or that an underage driver was operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
The consequences of a refusal generally depend on how many prior offenses the driver has that occurred within the past five years. However, incidents involving injuries or deaths can also increase the penalties.
First offense. For a first refusal, the driver is generally facing a one-year license revocation (two months for underage DUIs).
Second offense. For a second refusal within five years, the driver is generally facing an 18-month license revocation (six months for underage DUIs).
Third offense. For a third refusal within five years, the driver is generally facing a 24-month license revocation (12 months for underage DUIs).
A driver suspended for refusing a chemical test must submit a written request for formal review within 15 days if he or she wishes to contest the suspension.