Delaware Emergency Exception Doctrine
21 Del. C. 2733(a)(2) is Delaware's statutory equivalent of the "emergency exception," in that by alleging that a driver by unlawful operation of a motor vehicle caused death to another the State satisfies its burden of proving an emergency existed.
The death of another caused by recklessness or unlawful operation of a vehicle is sufficiently tragic and potentially dangerous enough to others using the roads to create the emergency allowing an immediate suspension prior to a hearing as the statue sets forth. It is important to note that while the statute permits the Department of Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend a license, it must also schedule a hearing for review of the immediate suspension, if requested by the suspended driver, to determine if the emergency sanction of suspension should continue.
The Court is satisfied that the statutory scheme contained in 21 Del. C. 2733(a) and (b) protected the procedural due process rights of the Appellant while promoting public safety and punishing unlawful behavior. In Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535, 91 S. Ct. 1586, 29 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1971), the Supreme Court held that "except in emergency situations...due process requires that when a State seeks to terminate an interest such as [a driver's license], it must afford notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case before the termination becomes effective." (ell, 402 U.S. at 542.)