Like a lot of states, Delaware is fighting drug and alcohol abuse with laws and penalties. It’s important to know what these are, especially since some may be different from other states or countries.

The following sections cover some of the most important parts of drug and alcohol laws in Delaware, like DUIs, zero tolerance and marijuana. Read through the rules and penalties to stay informed.

DUI Laws in Delaware

In Delaware, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. Specifically, you cannot drive a car if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are over 21, and your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
  • You are under 21, and your BAC is 0.02% or higher.
  • Your blood tests positive for any illegal or recreational drug.

Zero Tolerance Laws for Delaware

For underage drivers in Delaware, drunk driving laws are even stricter. These are called zero tolerance laws. If you’re under 21 years old, it’s a crime to drive with a 0.02% BAC or higher. This means that even a little alcohol is too much to drive.

Is Marijuana Legal in Delaware

Marijuana is only legal in Delaware with a doctor’s prescription. Recreational use is not allowed.

Marijuana was “decriminalized” in Delaware in 2015. Many people think this means that it’s legal, but that isn’t true. Instead, it just means that an adult over 21 with an ounce or less of marijuana will not face criminal punishment, but they will receive a $100 fine.

In Delaware, you can still be criminally prosecuted for:

  • Having more than one ounce of marijuana.
  • Having marijuana under the age of 21.
  • Driving a car while under the influence of marijuana.

Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

Many crimes involve drugs, including:

  • Possession of illegal drugs: Delaware schedules drugs into groups based on their medical use and potential of abuse. It’s a crime to have any of these drugs without a prescription, and the government can punish you with jail time and fines depending on the kind of drug, the amount you have and other factors.
  • Manufacturing illegal drugs: Many drugs cannot be produced without a license in Delaware, and many cannot be produced at all. Manufacturing includes things like preparing drugs chemically, or growing plants like opium poppies or marijuana. Producing illegal drugs often has stricter penalties than just possession.
  • Distribution of illegal drugs: Selling or distributing scheduled drugs is a crime of its own in Delaware. This can also result in severe punishments like jail time and fines.
  • Driving under the influence of illegal drugs (DUI): If you have any trace of illegal drugs in your blood, it’s illegal to drive a car in Delaware. Doing so can result in a DUI, which comes with specific penalties.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in Delaware

Breaking Delaware’s drug or alcohol laws can result in strict punishments depending on the crime:

DUI Penalties in Delaware

Delaware takes drunk driving seriously. Even your first offense can come with a 12-month jail sentence and a fine of $1,500. After three offenses, drunk driving is a felony. That means:

  • 1-2 years in prison
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • Losing your license for up to 36 months

If there are children in the car, these penalties get worse.

Zero Tolerance Penalties in Delaware

If you’re under 21, it’s illegal to drive in Delaware with any alcohol or illegal drugs in your blood. For this you can get an “underage DUI.” This comes with the following penalties:

  • A drug and alcohol treatment course
  • Losing your driver’s license for two months
  • Losing your license for a year your second time and 18 months your third

Cannabis Penalties in Delaware

It’s illegal to use marijuana in Delaware without a prescription. The punishments depend on how much. For example:

  • Less than one ounce is not a crime, but it does carry a $100 fine.
  • Between one ounce and 175 grams is a misdemeanor. It could result in three months of jail and a $575 fine.
  • More than 175 grams is a felony. That means up to 25 years in jail.

It’s also illegal to sell or grow marijuana in Delaware. These are felonies with strict punishments.

Get Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Delaware

Criminal penalties like jail and fines are just some of the ways that drugs and alcohol can ruin your life. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, treatment can help you get ahead of the problem. Call your nearest treatment center today to start your journey to a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Associated Press. (2015, December 18). Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect in Delaware
  2. Nolo. (2010, July 7). Delaware Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties
  3. The State of Delaware. (n.d.). TITLE 16 – CHAPTER 47. Uniform Controlled Substances Act – Subchapter II. Standards and Schedules

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