Delaware General Assembly






Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. That Title 21, Delaware Code, is hereby amended by adding thereto a new chapter to read as follows:

§ 2801. Declaration of policy

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

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

(b) To 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

(c) To discourage repetition of criminal acts by individuals against the peace and dignity of this State and her political subdivision 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.

§ 2802. Definitions

An habitual offender shall be any person, resident or non-resident, whose driving record, as maintained in the office of the Department of Public Safety shows that such person has accummulated convictions for separate and distinct offenses described in subsections (a) during a 5-year period; or (b) during a 3-year period; provided that where more than one included offense shall be committed within a 24 hour period such multiple offenses shall be treated for the purposes of this Chapter as one offense:

(a) Three or more convictions. Three or more convictions singulary or in combination of any of the following separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts:

(1) Manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;

(2) Using a motor vehicle during the commission of a felony;

(3) Driving or having actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of any drug, in violation of 21 Del. C. 4176;

(4) Driving a motor vehicle without a license to do so in violation of 21 Del.C. 2701;

(5) Driving a motor vehicle during a period of suspension or revocation in violation of 21 Del.C. 2746;

(6) Driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property in violation of 21 Del.C. 4175;

(7) 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 his identify in violation of 21 Del.C. 4201 or otherwise report such accident in violation of 21 Del.C. 4203;

(8) 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 his identify in violation of 21 Del.C. 4202;

(9) 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 requires in the administration of such laws

(b) Eight 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 Department 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 subsection (a) when taken with and added to those offenses described.

(c) Inclusions. The offenses included in subsections (a) and (b) 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.

(d) 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.

§ 2803. Department to certify record to Attorney General

The Secretary of Public Safety shall certify the conviction record as maintained in his office of any person whose record brings him within the definition of an habitual offender as defined in § 2802, to the Attorney General of the State of Delaware. 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.

§ 2804. Attorney General to initiate court proceeding; petition

The Attorney General, upon receiving the abstract from the Secretary, shall forthwith file a petition against the person named therein in the Superior Court in and for the county wherein such person resides or in the case of a nonresident, in the Superior Court 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.

§ 2805. Service of petition, order to show cause

Upon the filing of the petition, the Superior Court shall enter an order incorporating by attachment the aforesaid abstract and direct the person named therein to appear at the next criminal session of the Court and show cause why he 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 in the manner prescribed by law for the service of process. Service thereof on any nonresident of this State may be made pursuant to 10 Del.C. 3112, 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.

§ 2806. Hearing, procedure

The matter shall be heard by the Court without a jury. If a such person denies that he was convicted of any offense shown in the abstract necessary for a holding that he 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 Superior Court. The Court in 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.

§ 2807. Court's finding; judgment

If the Court finds that the person is not the same person named in the abstract, or that he is not an habitual offender under this article, 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.

§ 2808. Appeals

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

§ 2809. Prohibition

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:

(a) For a period of five years from the date of the Order of the Court finding such person to be an habitual offender as defined in Section 2802 (a) and for a period of three years from the date of the Order of the Court finding such person to be an habitual offender as defined in Section 2802 (b).

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

(c) Until, upon petition, and for good cause shown, the Court in 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.

§ 2810. Driving after judgment prohibited; penalty

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 the provisions of 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 be guilty of a misdemeanor and imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than five years. The Superior Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction of violations created by this Section.

§ 2811. Determination by the Attorney General

In any case in which a person is charged with driving a motor vehicle while his 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, hi shall cause the appropriate criminal charges to be lodged.

§ 2812. No existing law modified

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.

§ 2813. Computation of number of convictions

In computing the number of convictions all convictions must result from offenses occurring subsequent to the effective date of this chapter.

§ 2814. Additional penalty when convicted of an offense which
would render an individual an habitual offender

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, he shall in addition to the penalty otherwise prescribed by law for such offense, be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars and confined in jail not less than 30 days nor more than twelve months; provided, that no such sentence shall be executed until the individual is finally adjudged an habitual offender.

§ 2815. Severability clause

If any section, subsection, sentence, phrase or word of this Act shall be declared unconstitutional under the Constitution of the State of Delaware or of the United States or by a state or federal court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of fills Act shall be unimpaired and shall continue in full force and effect and prosecutions thereunder shall not be affected.

Approved June 8, 1972.