Delaware, which was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, lies on the Delmarva Peninsula. The state shares the peninsula with Maryland to the west and Virginia to the south. The state has hundreds of miles of beautiful, sandy beaches along the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean, which bring hundreds of thousands of tourists to the area every summer. The state capital, Dover, is also home to Dover Downs where two major NASCAR races are held each year – The FedEX 400 in June and The AAA 400 in September. CCI provides information about insurance and driving in the First State in order to help residents and visitors with their travels through Delaware.

Laws & Regulations

Delaware has many laws and regulations related to car insurance, driver’s license requirements and driving while intoxicated that all residents and visitors should be aware of. In addition, the state has laws regarding talking on cell phones or texting while driving. Some of the laws and regulations in Delaware include:

Insurance Minimums

In Delaware, car owners are required to carry :

 • $15,000 in coverage per individual injured in an accident
 • $30,000 maximum coverage for each accident
 • $10,000 coverage for any property damage.
 • A valid insurance card must be carried in the vehicle or in the possession of the driver.

New Driver’s License Requirements

Delaware has a graduated driver’s license program for all new drivers under the age of 18. New drivers may obtain a Learner’s Permit at the age of 16 by presenting a Delaware Driver Education Certificate that shows they passed Driver’s Education. A parent must sign to allow the minor to obtain a license. Stepparents are not permitted to sign for a driver’s license, although guardians appointed by the state may do so. Requirements and regulations can be found at http://www.dmv.de.gov/services/driver_services/drivers-license/dr_lic_grad_dl.shtml. For drivers over the age of 18, instructions and regulations can be found at
http://www.dmv.de.gov/services/driver_services/drivers_license/dr_lic_gen_req_shtml.

DUI/DWI Laws

Laws regarding Delaware’s Driving Under the Influence statues may be found at http://www.dmv.de.gov/services/driver_services/driver_improvement/dr_di_dui.shtml. Important points include:

• BAC – Drivers with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher are considered as driving under the influence, unless they are under 21. Delaware has a Zero-Tolerance Policy for underage drinking.
• DUI Costs – The Evaluation and Referral Program costs $100 and the Education Program costs $250; License reinstatement is $143.75
• Ignition Interlocks – Yes – Cost is $70 for installation and $75 per month plus tax to rent the equipment

Texting/Cell Phone Use

Delaware’s primary distracted driving law bans all handheld cell phone use including texting. The law also bans the use of pagers, blackberry’s PDAs, laptops and other electronic devices while driving. It is a primary offense, meaning a driver may be pulled over for using their cell phone even if they do not commit another traffic violation. Fines for the first offense are $50 and can go as high as $200 for additional offenses. There are no points for the violation on driver’s licenses and more information may be found at http://delcode.delaware.gov/title21/c041/sc09/index.shtml.

Resources

State Department of Insurance
Karen Weldin Stewart, Insurance Commissioner
Main Website: http://www.delawareinsurance.gov
Services Website: http://www.delawareinsurance.gov/services/allservicesconsumer.shtml
Address:

Department of Transportation:
Shailen P. Bhat, Secretary
Main Website: http://www.deldot.gov/index.shtml
Services Website: http://www.deldot.gov/services/services.shtml
Address: 800 South Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901, 302-739-4330
Directions Website: http://www.deldot.gov/home/contact_info/directiosn.shtml

Department of Motor Vehicles:
Jennifer L. Cohan, Director
Main Website: http://www.dmv.de.gov
Services Website: http://www.dmv.de.gov/#
Addresses: 841 Silver Lake Boulevard, Dover, DE 19901, 302-674-7300

New Castle County:
Delaware City: 2101 Mid County Drive, New Castle DE, 19720, 302-326-5000
Wilmington: 2230 Hessler Boulevard, New Castle, DE 19720, 302-434-3200
Kent County:
Dover: 303 Transportation Circle, PO Box 698, Dover DE 19903, 302-744-2500
Sussex County:
Georgetown: 23737 DuPont Boulevard, Georgetown, DE 19947, 302-853-1000

Directions Website: http://www.dmv.de.gov/home/contact_info/index.shtml

Facts and Figures

Average Car Insurance Premiums

Car insurance premiums in Delaware average $1000 per year which is higher than the national average. There are many reasons why Delaware’s auto insurance rate is higher than the national average, including state insurance laws, uninsured motorist percentages and other factors.

Average Car Insurance Premiums as a Percentage of Income

The average percentage of insurance per income in Delaware is two percent, which is higher than the national average of less than 1.6 percent. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the southern portion of the state has a much lower income average than that of the northern portion. Delaware is divided into three counties, with the southernmost county of Sussex consisting of a mostly rural, agricultural economy. Kent County, the central portion of the state also has a large rural community, but does offer more industry than Sussex. The northern county, New Castle, is highly industrialized with many urban areas, providing a higher income than the other two counties. This also means that insurance premiums in New Castle are higher, driving the average premiums up while the lower incomes in Sussex County cause the ratio between income and policy costs to be higher than the national average.

Drunk Driving Fatalities

In 2012, there were 34 drunk driving fatalities in the state. According to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), those deaths represented a decrease of 17 percent from 2011. In addition, there were 5,459 DUI arrests with 1,767 convictions in 2012. There are sobriety checkpoints in Delaware, and those charged who have prior convictions may be charged with a felony (http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/state-stats/delaware.html).

Teen Drinking and Driving

Just under 10 percent of teens drink and drive in Delaware. Delaware has a Zero Tolerance Policy for underage drinkers. Anyone under the age of 21 who is driving a motor vehicle, whether it is an ATV, moped or other type, who has a BAC above 0.00 percent may be found guilty of DUI. If they are convicted, they may lose their license for two months for the first offense and not less than six months or more than 12 months for additional offenses. If the underage person does not have a driver’s license, they are fined $200 for the first offense. The second offense earns a fine of no less than $400 but no more than $1,000 (http://www.dmv.de.gov/services/driver/_services/driver_improvement/dr_di_dui_shtml).

Vehicle Theft:

In 2012 there were less than 160 cars stolen in Delaware. In Delaware auto thefts are investigated by the Special Investigations Unit. In addition, the unit is assisted by the Civilian Auto Theft Technician team, providing valuable assistance to the police (http://dsp.delaware.gov/siu.shtml).

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