The Delaware State Bar Association highlights a mission to give everyone equal access to justice. In theory this means all have a chance of securing a highly competent lawyer to give advice and represent their interests in court. To this end, there a pro bono program and all bar members are encouraged to support it. Except the program is not a service to find suitable attorneys for those in need. All it does is provide a list of car accident attorneys prepared to help people deal with problems arising from accidents and their interaction with car insurance companies.
There is, however, an organization of volunteer attorneys who do assist the poor. This runs alongside the Community Legal Aid Society and the Legal Services Corporation which are nonprofit law firms. This leaves the practical reality that unless you qualify as one of the poor or can persuade one of the specialist car accident attorneys to take the case on a contingent fee basis, you will have to pay for continuing legal advice on the law of tort as it applies to loss and damage flowing from traffic crashes. The situation is marginally better for representation when facing an accusation of breaking the criminal law.
Why fight tickets for minor offenses?
The car insurance industry bases its calculation of the rate to charge for giving you coverage on your track record as a driver. Because there’s a presumption of innocence, the insurers cannot reply on an accusation. There must be an admission by paying the fine or a conviction if the case comes to a court. Although many insurers do not raise the rates for a first time misdemeanor offense, the rates always rise for the more serious moving violations. Once there’s a conviction on your record, the rates can remain high for some years making it cost-effective to dispute tickets and fight court cases.
Delaware applies the national blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 to all driving under the influence cases. You will be convicted simply for exceeding the BAC limit. The courts do not require evidence your driving was affected in any way. For these purposes, there’s a law on the statute books giving your consent to chemical testing for alcohol and drugs. Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car is deemed to have agreed to take a test if it is requested by an authorized police officer. If you are an adult and refuse to blow into a breathalyzer device, or to give blood or urine, your driver’s license is suspended for one year.
The basic set of procedures for testing your BAC requires the test to be administered within four hours of the time you were driving. This tempts some people to run from the scene of the accident and to hide. Naturally, fleeing the scene is an offense in its own right. Should the blood test be delayed, there are scientific formulae to calculate what the BAC would have been at the time of driving. Alcohol breaks down and disappears from the blood at a predictable rate. Courts allow prosecutors to prove you were over the limit using this science.
If you are lucky and the breach of the BAC limit is marginal, you may be able to persuade a prosecutor to accept a plea of reckless driving involving alcohol. You should remember that this plea will be considered a conviction for drunk driving if you commit a second offense. Since the second offense has a minimum jail time of sixty days, it’s as well to avoid being caught. Unlike some other states, the fitting of an ignition interlock device is not mandatory in Delaware, but it’s within the discretion of the court.
If you are under the age of twenty-one, the BAC limit is 0.02 and there are different responses if the blood tests confirm an offense. If you are under the age of seventeen, there’s a fine of between $500 and $1,000, and forty hours of community service for the first offense. Any convicted driver under the age of twenty-one loses his or her driver’s license for two years.