TITLE 21

Motor Vehicles

Registration, Title and Licenses

CHAPTER 28. HABITUAL OFFENDERS


It is hereby declared to be the policy of this State to:

(1) Provide maximum safety for all persons who travel or otherwise use the public highways of this State; and

(2) Deny the privilege of operating motor vehicles on our highways to persons who by their conduct and record have demonstrated their indifference to the safety and welfare of others and their disrespect for the laws of this State, the orders of its courts and the statutorily required acts of its administrative agencies; and

(3) Discourage repetition of criminal acts by individuals against the peace and dignity of this State and the State's political subdivisions and to impose increased and added deprivation of the privilege to operate motor vehicles upon habitual offenders who have been convicted repeatedly of violations of the motor vehicle laws.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2801; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

An "habitual offender" shall be any person, resident or nonresident, whose driving record, as maintained in the office of the Division of Motor Vehicles, shows that such person has accumulated convictions for separate and distinct offenses described in paragraph (1) of this section during a 5-year period or paragraph (2) of this section during a 3-year period, provided, that where more than 1 included offense shall be committed within a 24-hour period, such multiple offenses shall be treated for the purposes of this chapter as 1 offense:

(1) Three or more convictions. — Three or more convictions, singularly or in combination of any of the following separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts:

a. Manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;

b. Using a motor vehicle during the commission of a felony;

c. Driving or having actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of any drug, in violation of § 4177 of this title;

d. Driving a motor vehicle without a license to do so, in violation of § 2701(a), (b) or (c) of this title. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the judge determines that the sole reason that an individual was convicted of a violation of § 2701(b) of this title was because the individual's driver's license was suspended, revoked or denied for a failure to pay a fine for a traffic offense which is eligible for voluntary assessment (whether or not the voluntary assessment procedure was offered or used), then that violation of § 2701(b) of this title may not be considered to establish habitual offense status pursuant to this paragraph (1)d.;

e. Driving a motor vehicle during a period of suspension or revocation, in violation of § 2756 of this title. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the judge determines that the sole reason that an individual was convicted of a violation of § 2756 of this title was because the individual's driver's license was suspended or revoked for a failure to pay a fine for a traffic offense which is eligible for voluntary assessment (whether or not the voluntary assessment procedure was offered or used), then such violation of § 2756 of this title may not be considered to establish habitual offense status pursuant to this paragraph (1)e.;

f. Driving a motor vehicle in wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, in violation of § 4175 of this title;

g. Failure of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in apparent damage to property to stop at the scene of such accident and report the driver's identity in violation of § 4201 of this title or otherwise report such accident, in violation of § 4203 of this title;

h. Failure of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in any accident resulting in injury or death to any person to stop at the scene of such accident and report the driver's identity in violation of § 4202 of this title;

i. Knowingly making any false affidavit or swearing or affirming falsely to any manner or thing required by the motor vehicle laws or as to information required in the administration of such laws;

j. Attempting to flee or elude a police officer after having received a visual or audible signal from the police officer as provided in § 4103(b) of this title;

k. Driving any motor vehicle upon the highways of this State contrary to the restrictions placed upon an occupational license during the period of such occupational license as provided in § 2733(i) of this title.

(2) Ten or more convictions. — Ten or more convictions of separate and distinct offenses involving moving violations singularly or in combination, in the operation of a motor vehicle which are required to be reported to the Department and the commission whereof authorizes the Division or the court to suspend or revoke the privilege to operate motor vehicles on the highways of this State for a period of 30 days or more for each offense and such convictions shall include those offenses enumerated in paragraph (1) of this section when taken with and added to those offenses described.

(3) Inclusions. — The offenses included in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this section shall be deemed to include offenses under any federal law, any law of another state or any valid town, city or county ordinance of another state substantially conforming to a state statutory provision.

(4) Conviction. — For the purpose of this chapter, the term "conviction" shall mean a final conviction, a plea of guilty or a forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure a defendant's appearance in court, which forfeiture has not been vacated.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2802; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 61 Del. Laws, c. 285, § 1; 66 Del. Laws, c. 231, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 390, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 134, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 19, § 1.;

The Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles shall certify the conviction record, as maintained in the Division of Motor Vehicles, of any person whose record brings that person within the definition of an habitual offender, as defined in § 2802 of this title, to the Attorney General of the State. The certified conviction record or abstract may be admitted in evidence and shall be competent evidence that the person named therein was duly convicted of each offense enumerated therein.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2803; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 66 Del. Laws, c. 231, §§ 2, 3; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The Attorney General, upon receiving the abstract from the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, shall forthwith file a petition against the person named therein in the Court of Common Pleas in and for the county wherein such person resides or, in the case of a nonresident, in the Court of Common Pleas in and for New Castle County. The petition shall request the Court to determine whether or not the person named therein is an habitual offender.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2804; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 66 Del. Laws, c. 231, § 4; 69 Del. Laws, c. 333, § 5.;

Upon the filing of the petition, the Court of Common Pleas shall enter an order incorporating by attachment the aforesaid abstract and direct the person named therein to appear at a time scheduled by the Court and show cause why the person should not be barred from operating or driving a motor vehicle on the highways of this State. A copy of the petition, the show cause order and the abstract shall be served upon the person named therein either by personal delivery thereof or by deposit of such in the United States mail in an envelope with postage prepaid, addressed to such person at that person's address as shown by the records of the Division of Motor Vehicles. The service of the petition, order and abstract by mail is complete upon the expiration of 4 days after such deposit of those documents. Service thereof on any nonresident of this State may be made pursuant to § 3112 of Title 10 [repealed], except that any fee for such service shall be taxed against the person named in the petition as a part of the cost of such proceeding.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2805; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 69 Del. Laws, c. 333, § 6; 70 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 121, § 1.;

The matter shall be heard by the Court without a jury. If such person denies that that person was convicted of any offense shown in the abstract necessary for a holding that that person is an habitual offender, and if the Court cannot, on the evidence available to it, determine the issue, the Court may require of the Department certified copies of such records respecting the matter as it may have in its possession. If, upon an examination of such records, the Court is still unable to make such determination it shall certify the decision of such issue to the Court in which such conviction was reportedly made. The Court to which such certification is made shall forthwith conduct a hearing to determine the issue and send a certified copy of its final order determining the issue to the Court of Common Pleas. The Court, at its discretion, may rely upon certified copies of convictions adjudged by courts outside of this State or federal courts or may request such a court to make a determination.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2806; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 69 Del. Laws, c. 333, § 7; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

If the court finds that the person is not the same person named in the abstract, or that the person is not an habitual offender under this chapter, the proceeding shall be dismissed. If the court finds that the person is the same person named in the abstract and that the person is an habitual offender, the court shall by appropriate judgment direct that such person not drive or operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this State and to surrender to the court all licenses or permits to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this State. The prothonotary shall forthwith transmit a copy of such judgment together with any licenses or permits surrendered to the Department.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2807; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

An appeal may be taken from any final action or judgment entered under this chapter in the same manner and form as appeals in civil or criminal actions.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2808; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416.;

No license to operate a motor vehicle in this State shall be issued to an habitual offender nor shall a nonresident habitual offender operate a motor vehicle in this State:

(1) For a period of 5 years from the date of the order of the court finding such person to be an habitual offender as defined in § 2802(1) of this title and for a period of 3 years from the date of the order of the court finding such person to be an habitual offender as defined in § 2802(2) of this title;

(2) Until such time as financial responsibility requirements are met; and

(3) Until, upon petition and for good cause shown, the court, at its discretion, restores to such person the privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this State upon such terms and conditions as the court may prescribe, subject to other provisions of law relating to the issuance of operators' licenses.

(4) Unless the Attorney General moves the court for restoration of the privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this State of any person declared to be an habitual offender as defined in § 2802(1) of this title after 3 years from the date of the order of the court declaring the person to be a habitual offender. In the event of such a motion by the Attorney General, the court may in its discretion restore the driving privileges of the person in whole or in part only if the person also meets the obligation set forth in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this section.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2809; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 70 Del. Laws, c. 136, § 3.;

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any motor vehicle in this State while the judgment of the Court prohibiting the operation remains in effect. Any person found to be an habitual offender under this chapter who is thereafter convicted of operating a motor vehicle in this State while the judgment of the Court prohibiting such operation is in effect shall for the first offense be fined not more than $1,150 and imprisoned not less than 90 days nor more than 30 months. For each subsequent like offense, be fined not more than $2,300 and imprisonment not less than 180 days nor more than 5 years. The periods of imprisonment required under this section shall not be subject to suspension and if the judgment of the Court prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle was based in whole or in part upon a conviction of the person for a prior or previous driving under the influence-related conviction or offense as defined in § 4177B(e)(1)a.-d. of this title, or in whole or in part upon a conviction under any criminal statute pertaining to injury or death caused to another person by the person's driving or operation of a vehicle, the period of imprisonment shall, notwithstanding any provision of this section or title to the contrary, be served subject to the provisions of § 4205(c)(2) [repealed] of this title. The Court of Common Pleas shall have original jurisdiction of violations created by this section.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, any offense, other than a felony, which is within the exclusive or original jurisdiction of another court and which may be joined properly with violations created by this section, shall be deemed to be within the original jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2810; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 69 Del. Laws, c. 333, § 8; 70 Del. Laws, c. 136, §§ 4, 5; 70 Del. Laws, c. 528, §§ 1, 2; 74 Del. Laws, c. 106, § 32.;

In any case in which a person is charged with driving a motor vehicle while that person's license, permit or privilege to drive is suspended or revoked or is charged with driving without a license, the court shall require the Attorney General to determine whether such person has been adjudged an habitual offender and, by reason of such judgment, is barred from operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this State. If the Attorney General determines that the person has been so adjudged, the Attorney General shall cause the appropriate criminal charges to be lodged.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2811; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as amending, modifying or repealing any existing law of this State or any existing ordinance of any political subdivision relating to the operation of motor vehicles, the licensing of persons to operate motor vehicles or providing penalties for the violation thereof or shall be construed so as to preclude the exercise of the regulatory powers of any division, agency, department or political subdivision of this State having the statutory authority to regulate such operation and licensing.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2812; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416.;

In computing the number of convictions, all convictions must result from offenses occurring subsequent to June 8, 1972, except that convictions for offenses designated in § 2802(1)j. and k. of this title shall only be computed if the offenses giving rise thereto occur subsequent to July 1, 1977.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2813; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 61 Del. Laws, c. 285, § 2.;

If any person shall be convicted in this State of an offense which would render that individual an habitual offender as defined in this chapter, the person shall, in addition to the penalty otherwise prescribed by law for such offense, be fined not less than $115 nor more than $1,150 and confined in jail not less than 30 days nor more than 12 months, provided, that no such sentence shall be executed until the individual is finally adjudged an habitual offender.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 2814; 58 Del. Laws, c. 416; 68 Del. Laws, c. 9, § 18; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;