TITLE 21

Motor Vehicles

Operation and Equipment

CHAPTER 41. RULES OF THE ROAD

Subchapter I. Obedience to and Effect of Traffic Laws


(a) The provisions of this title relating to the operation of vehicles refer exclusively to the operation of vehicles upon highways except:

(1) Where a different place is specifically referred to in a given section.

(2) That subchapter IX of this chapter shall apply upon highways and elsewhere throughout the State.

(3) That subchapter VIII of this chapter and § 4164 of this title shall apply upon highways and elsewhere throughout the State, except that subchapter VIII of this chapter and § 4164 of this title shall not apply upon any nonresidential, commercial property. For the purposes of this paragraph, "elsewhere" shall mean only those areas regulated by traffic-control devices which have been reviewed and approved as acceptable for the area by the Delaware Department of Transportation.

(4) Upon application by a majority of persons having a property interest in a private road or way upon which motor vehicles are driven, the appropriate agency or officer of any town, city or county in which such private property is located may petition the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (hereinafter "Department") in a manner prescribed by the Department, requesting the Department assume jurisdiction over such private property. Upon acceptance of jurisdiction over the private property, the Department shall, by written notice, so notify each governmental body and property owner affected and shall supply copies of such notice to all appropriate courts and law-enforcement agencies. One week following the official acceptance of such jurisdiction, all provisions of Title 17 and this title shall apply to the affected private property. The installation and maintenance of all traffic-control devices authorized by the Department of Transportation shall be undertaken by the owners at no cost to the State.

(b) Local authorities, except as expressly authorized by law, shall not enact or enforce any rules or regulations contrary to this chapter. Traffic ordinances and regulations adopted by local authorities, and substantially conforming to the sections of this chapter, shall have the same force and effect as the traffic laws of this title. Whenever any provision of this title refers to a specific section of this title, such section shall be deemed to include substantially conforming ordinances and regulations enacted by local authorities. The court's notice of conviction for violating a local ordinance or regulation that substantially conforms to this title, when included in the person's driving record, shall be deemed to be equivalent to a violation of the state statute to which it conforms. This section shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction for violations of local traffic ordinances or regulations nor the fine to be imposed for such a violation. Local authorities may regulate the use of the highways by processions or assemblages. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the owner of real property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel by permission of the owner and not as a matter of right from prohibiting such use nor requiring other or different or additional conditions than those specified in this chapter or otherwise regulating such use as seems best to such owner.

(c) The authority to authorize, maintain, install and remove all traffic-control devices necessary to implement this title is provided to the Department of Transportation and to local authorities in their respective jurisdictions by Chapter 1 of Title 17. Unless otherwise provided in this title, the authorities granted are uniformly applicable to all sections of this title.

(d) Liability for failure of owner to comply with traffic light signals.

(1) The Department of Public Safety and/or the governing body of any city or any county may provide, by regulation or ordinance, for the establishment of a program imposing monetary liability on the owner of a motor vehicle for failure to comply with traffic light signals in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. This subsection allows the Department of Transportation and/or the governing body of any city or county to install and operate traffic light signal violation monitoring systems; provided however, that in the event the installation other than by the Department of Transportation on state-maintained streets or roads, the Department of Transportation must first approve such installation; and provided further that the duration of the yellow light change interval, at any intersection where a traffic control photographic system or other traffic light signal violation monitoring system is in use, must be no less than the yellow light change interval duration specified in the design manual developed by the Department of Transportation.

(2) Liability — The owner or operator of a vehicle which has failed to comply with a traffic light signal, as evidenced by information obtained from a traffic light signal violation monitoring system, shall be subject to a civil or administrative assessment not to exceed $110; provided, however, that the city or county may provide for an additional assessment not to exceed $10 if the civil or administrative assessment is not paid within 20 days, which assessment may be increased to an amount not to exceed $20 if the assessment is not paid within 45 days, and may be increased to an amount not to exceed $30 if the assessment is not paid within 90 days. Court costs or similar administrative fees not to exceed $35 may also be assessed against an owner or operator who requests a hearing to contest the violation and is ultimately found or pleads responsible for the violation or who fails to pay or contest the violation in a timely manner. No assessments and court costs other than those specified in this subsection may be imposed. A violation for which a civil assessment is imposed under this subsection shall not be classified as a criminal offense and shall not be made a part of the operating record of the person upon whom such liability is imposed, nor shall it be used for insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance. Assessments collected as a result of a traffic control signal monitoring system shall be paid to the city or county which controlled the monitoring system, or the General Fund for personnel, after first being applied to reimburse the applicable state agencies for their costs of administering such systems.

(3) Definitions — For purpose of this subsection only:

a. "Owner" means the registered owner of such vehicle on record with this or any other state; provided, however, that in the event that the owner is a vehicle leasing company, the "owner," for purposes of this subsection, shall mean the person shown on the records to be the lessee of such vehicle. Vehicle rental companies are excluded from the definition of "owner."

b. "Traffic light signal violation monitoring system" means a vehicle sensor installed to work in conjunction with a traffic light that automatically produces 2 or more photographs, or 2 or more microphotographs, or a videotape, or other recorded images of each vehicle at the time it is used or operated in violation of this subsection.

(4) Summons and notice of violation — Any nonresident owner or operator of any motor vehicle which is operated or driven on the public streets, roads, turnpikes or highways of this State is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Delaware courts for purposes of this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Delaware Code, a summons for a violation of this subsection may be executed by mailing to any Delaware resident or nonresident by first class mail a copy thereof to the address of the owner of the vehicle as shown on the records of the Division of Motor Vehicles of this or any other state, as appropriate. Collection actions, including default judgment and execution, may proceed based upon jurisdiction obtained through the mailing by first class mail of a summons and subsequent court notices pursuant to this subsection. Every initial mailing shall include the:

a. Name and address of the owner of the vehicle;

b. Registration number of the motor vehicle involved in the violation;

c. Violation charges;

d. Location where the violation occurred;

e. Date and time of the violation;

f. Copies of 2 or more photographs, or microphotographs or other recorded images, taken as proof of the violation;

g. Amount of the civil assessment imposed and the date by which the civil assessment should be paid;

h. Information advising the summonsed person of the matter, time and place by which liability as alleged in the notice may be contested, and warning that the failure to pay the civil assessment or to contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability and may result in a judgment being entered against the summonsed person and/or the denial of the registration or the renewal of the registration of any of the owner's vehicles; and

i. Notice of the summonsed person's ability to rebut the presumption that the summonsed person was the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and the means for rebutting such presumption.

(5) Payment by voluntary assessment — Persons electing to pay by voluntary assessment shall make payments to the entity designated on the summons for payment. Such entity may be the Justice of the Peace Court or an entity designated by the Court, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, or by the city or county in which the traffic light was located. Procedures for payment under this subsection shall be as provided by court rule or policy directive of the Justice of the Peace Court, by regulation of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, or by regulation, code or ordinance of the applicable city or county, and shall be in lieu of the procedures set forth in § 709 of this title.

(6) Procedures to contest the violation — A person receiving the summons pursuant to this subsection may request a hearing to contest the violation by notifying, in writing, the entity designated on the summons within 20 days of the date. Upon receipt of a timely request for a hearing a civil hearing shall be scheduled and the defendant notified of the hearing date by first class mail. A civil hearing shall be held by the Justice of the Peace Court or such other entity as designated by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security or applicable county or city. The hearing may be informal and shall be held in accordance with Justice of the Peace Court rules or policy directive, regulation of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, or by regulation, code or ordinance of the applicable city or county. Additional administrative collection processes may be established by court rule, policy directive, regulation, code or ordinance, as applicable. Costs for such hearing shall not be assessed against the prevailing party. There shall be no right of transfer to the Court of Common Pleas.

(7) Failure to pay or successfully contest the violation — If the owner or an operator identified by the owner fails to pay the civil penalty by voluntary assessment, request a hearing within the required time or submit an affidavit stating that the owner or operator identified was not the driver, the Division of Motor Vehicles may refuse to renew the registration of the owner's vehicle operated at the time the summons was issued. If the owner or an operator identified by the owner is found responsible at a hearing and fails to pay as ordered by the Court, or requests a hearing and fails to appear, the Division of Motor Vehicles shall suspend the license of the owner or operator.

Upon receiving a record of failure to comply, the Clerk may enter a civil traffic judgment against the owner or operator in the amount of the civil penalty, costs, and any applicable penalty amounts, giving credit for any amount paid. Such judgment may, upon motion, be transferred by the Court to the civil docket. Any judgment so transferred may be executed and enforced or transferred in the same manner as other judgments of the Court and the Division of Public Safety or its designee, or the applicable city or county shall have authority to seek such execution, enforcement or transfer.

(8) Proof of violation — Proof of a violation of this subsection shall be evidenced by information obtained from a traffic light signal violation monitoring system authorized pursuant to this subsection. A certificate, or facsimile thereof, based upon inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape or other recorded images produced by a traffic light signal violation monitoring system shall constitute prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein, if the certificate, or facsimile thereof, is sworn to or affirmed by a technician employed by a locality authorized to impose assessments pursuant to this subsection, or a technician employed by a state agency or entity designated by a state agency for the purposes of this section. Any photographs, microphotographs, videotape or other recorded images evidencing such a violation shall be available for inspection in any proceeding to adjudicate the liability for such violation pursuant to regulation, ordinance or other law adopted pursuant to this subsection.

(9) Presumptions — The owner of any vehicle found to be in violation of this subsection shall be held prima facie responsible for such violation in the same manner as provided for under § 7003 of this title, unless the owner can furnish evidence that the vehicle was, at the time of the violation, in the care, custody or control of another person. Such presumption shall be rebutted if the owner:

a. Furnishes an affidavit by regular mail to the entity indicated on the summons that the owner was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and provides the name and address of the person or company who leased, rented or otherwise had the care, custody or control of the vehicle, or attaches a certified copy of a police report showing that the vehicle or license plate or plates thereof had been reported to the police as stolen prior to the time of the alleged violation of this subsection; or

b. Provides proof in court or to the entity handling the administrative appeal process that the owner was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation or that the owner failed to comply with the traffic signal either in order to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle or as part of a funeral procession.

A summons may be issued to a person identified by affidavit or evidence in court as the actual operator of the vehicle shown to have violated the traffic light signal. There shall be a presumption that the person so identified was the driver. The presumption may be rebutted as described in this subsection.

(10) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, if the motor vehicle which is found by the traffic light signal violation monitoring system to have failed to comply with a traffic light signal is commercially licensed, then the owner of that vehicle shall be sent notice of the date, time and location of the violation with 2 photographs thereof. Within 10 days of the receipt of said notice, the owner of the vehicle shall provide the law-enforcement agency which has issued the summons with the name and address of the driver of the vehicle at the date, time and location of the violation and, within the same time period, shall provide the driver of the vehicle with the photographs of the violation. After receipt by the law-enforcement agency which has issued the summons of the name and address of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation, the driver of the vehicle shall be prima facie responsible for such violation in the same manner as provided for under § 7003 of this title and shall be subject to the provisions of this section. Failure of the owner of the vehicle found to be in violation of subsection (d) to provide the name and address of the driver at the time of the violation within the period prescribed shall cause the owner to be held responsible as set forth in paragraph (d)(4) of this section.

(11) Any person found responsible for a civil traffic offense shall have a right of appeal only in those cases in which the civil penalty imposed exceeds $100, upon giving bond with surety satisfactory to the judge before whom such person was found responsible, such appeal to be taken and bond given within 15 days from the time of the finding of responsible. Such appeal shall operate as a stay or supersedeas of all proceedings in the court below in the same manner that a certiorari from the Superior Court operates. The taking of such appeal shall constitute a waiver by the appellant of the appellant's right to a writ of certiorari in the Superior Court. Additional penalty assessments for late payment/response pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section shall be included in determining the amount of the civil penalty for purposes of determining the right to an appeal.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 4101; 54 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 670, § 13A; 58 Del. Laws, c. 515, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 701, § 8; 63 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 390, §§ 1, 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 89, §§ 1, 2; 73 Del. Laws, c. 204, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 66, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 110, §§ 84, 85, 138; 74 Del. Laws, c. 301, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 56, §§ 1-12; 76 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 118(1), (2); 77 Del. Laws, c. 281, § 1.;

It is unlawful for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this chapter.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 4102; 54 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 60, § 1.;

(a) No person shall wilfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer or authorized flagperson or fire police officer or uniformed adult school crossing guard invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This subsection shall not operate to relieve a driver of the duty to operate the driver's vehicle with due regard to the safety of all persons using the highway.

(b) Any driver who, having received a visual or audible signal from a police officer identifiable by uniform, by motor vehicle or by a clearly discernible police signal to bring the driver's vehicle to a stop, operates the vehicle in disregard of the signal or interferes with or endangers the operation of the police vehicle or who increases speed or extinguishes the vehicle's lights and attempts to flee or elude the police officer shall be guilty of a class G felony, with a minimum fine of $575 which may not be suspended. Upon receiving notice of such conviction the Secretary, at the Secretary's discretion, may forthwith revoke the operator's or chauffeur's license of the person so convicted for a period of 2 years. For each subsequent like offense, the person shall be guilty of a class E felony, with a minimum fine of $1,150 which may not be suspended. Upon receiving a court notice of conviction for a subsequent like offense, the Secretary shall revoke the operator's or chauffeur's license for an additional 3-year period. It shall be an affirmative defense for this section if the driver proceeds at or below the posted speed limit to a safe location or, at nighttime to a well-lit reasonable location and stops the vehicle at that point that the driver is not guilty of this section.

(c) If any vehicle is witnessed by a police officer to be in violation of subsection (b) of this section and the identity of the operator is not otherwise apparent, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the persons in whose name such vehicle is registered, to whom a rental vehicle is leased or whose name appears on a company's records as driving a company vehicle, committed such violation of subsection (b) of this section.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 4103; 54 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 141; 57 Del. Laws, c. 670, § 13B; 60 Del. Laws, c. 701, § 9; 64 Del. Laws, c. 164, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 9, § 21; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 289, §§ 1-3.;

Every person riding an animal or driving any animal-drawn vehicle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except those provisions of this chapter which by their very nature can have no application.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 4104; 54 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 1.;

(a) Unless specifically made applicable, the provisions of this title, except those contained in subchapter IX of this chapter, shall not apply to persons, motor vehicles and other equipment while actually engaged in work upon a highway or in work upon utility facilities along a highway, so long as proper traffic-control devices are posted, but shall apply to such persons and vehicles when traveling to or from such work.

(b) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any authorized vehicle or pedestrian actually engaged in work upon a highway within any highway construction or maintenance area indicated by traffic-control devices.

(c) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any authorized vehicle obviously and actually engaged in work upon a highway whenever such vehicle displays flashing lights meeting the requirements of the Secretary of Public Safety.

(d) Traffic-control devices shall be used as required in the standards adopted under § 147 of Title 17. Failure to comply with this section shall be cause for immediate cessation of operations in the affected area and the immediate reopening of the highway in a safe manner.

(e) Failure to comply with the lawful order to effect immediate cessation of operations and the reopening of the highway shall subject the violator to a fine of not less than $115 nor more than $575.

(f)(1) The driver of a vehicle who violates any of the following sections of this title shall be fined not less than double the enumerated amount for a first offense when the violation occurs within any highway construction or maintenance area indicated by traffic-control devices:

a. Section 4102 of this title relating to obedience to traffic laws;

b. Section 4103 of this title relating to obedience to authorized persons directing traffic;

c. Section 4107 of this title relating to obedience to traffic-control devices;

d. Section 4110 of this title relating to flashing signals;

e. Section 4114 of this title relating to driving on the right side of roadway;

f. Section 4115 of this title relating to passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions;

g. Section 4116 of this title relating to overtaking a vehicle on left;

h. Section 4117 of this title relating to when overtaking on the right is permitted;

i. Section 4118 of this title relating to limitations on overtaking on the left;

j. Section 4119 of this title relating to further limitations on driving to the left of center of roadway;

k. Section 4120 of this title relating to no-passing zones;

l. Section 4122 of this title relating to driving on roadways laned for traffic;

m. Section 4123 of this title relating to following too closely;

n. Section 4164 of this title relating to stop signs and yield signs;

o. Section 4168 of this title relating to general speed restrictions;

p. Section 4169 of this title relating to specific speed limits;

q. Section 4175 of this title relating to reckless driving;

r. Section 4176 of this title relating to careless or inattentive driving;

s. Section 4177 of this title relating to operation of vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;

t. Section 4178 of this title relating to stopping, standing or parking; and

u. Section 4184 of this title relating to limitations on backing.

(2) As used in this subsection, the phrase "within any highway construction or maintenance area indicated by traffic-control devices" shall mean that area between the first traffic-control device informing road users of their approach toward a work zone area until the last traffic-control device indicating all restrictions are removed and normal vehicle operations can resume. The phrase shall also include detour routes for highway construction or maintenance marked by traffic-control devices. "Traffic-control devices" and "work zone" shall have the same meaning as adopted pursuant to § 147 of Title 17, as amended. "Highway construction and maintenance area" shall also include construction and maintenance for utilities or railroads within or adjacent to the highway rights-of-way.

(3) Whenever practical, signs designed in compliance with regulations of the Department shall be appropriately placed to notify motorists that increased penalties apply for moving violations in construction or maintenance areas. However, the failure to post or an improper posting of such signs shall not be a defense to a violation of this section.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 4105; 54 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 700, § 3; 67 Del. Laws, c. 342, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 9, § 22.;