Submitted: March 8, 2019
Stephen McCloskey, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Attorney
for the State of Delaware
Jonathan Layton, Esquire Gonser and Gonser PA. Attorney for
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SENTENCE AS A FIRST DUI OFFENSE
J. Smalls, Chief Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion To Be
Sentenced As A First Offender Under the Delaware Motor
Vehicle Statute 21 Del. C. § 4177(d)(1). This
Motion is opposed by the State on the basis that Defendant
was convicted in the State of Maryland on March 18, 2015, for
an offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Defendant was sentenced under the Maryland Probation Before
Judgment statute. Therefore, the State argues that this the
present conviction under Delaware's driving while under
the influence of alcohol statute constitutes a second offense
under 21 Del. C. § 4177(d)(2).
& PROCEDURAL HISTORY
18, 2015, Defendant pled guilty in the District Court of
Maryland, Worchester County, to driving while under the
influence of alcohol per se (the "Maryland DUI"),
and entered a probation before judgment program. Defendant
successfully completed the program on September 25, 2015.
February 20, 2018, Defendant was charged in this Court with
driving under the influence of alcohol and other related
offenses. A bench trial was held on October 8, 2018,
at the conclusion of which Defendant was found guilty of
driving under the influence of alcohol (the "Delaware
January 11, 2019, Defendant was scheduled to appear before
this Court for sentencing on the Delaware DUI. However, at
the request of the parties, sentencing was continued and the
parties were afforded opportunity to submit briefing on the
issue of whether the Maryland DUI constitutes a first offense
for purposes of sentencing. Briefing was completed on March
8, 2019, and the Court took the matter under advisement.
the State's position that the Maryland DUI constitutes a
first offense because it falls within the definition of a
"prior offense" as set forth in Delaware's
driving under the influence statute. As such, the State
avers, the conviction on October 8, 2018, constitutes a
second offense and Defendant must be sentenced as a
second-time offender. Defendant, on the other hand, argues
that, under Delaware's probation before judgment statute,
the Maryland DUI does not constitute a "previous
conviction." Thus, Defendant contends, the Delaware
conviction is a first offense under Delaware law and
Defendant must be sentenced as a first- time offender.
provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code do not provide
discretion in the imposition of sentences for DUI
offenses. Rather, the statutory scheme set forth in
11 Del. C. § 4177 (the "DUI Statute"), imposes
strict, mandatory penalties for offenses, escalating in
severity for repeat offenders. This structure provides that a
first offense requires a penalty of a fine not less than $500
and/or imprisonment up to a period of 12
months. Thereafter, for a second offense which
occurs within 10 years of the first offense, the DUI Statute
requires the imposition of a minimum fine of $750 and at
least 60 days imprisonment.
4177B(e)(1) of the DUI Statute sets forth specific categories
of offenses which constitute a "prior ...