Lefebvre v. State

In Lefebvre v. State, 19 A.3d. 287 (Del. 2011), the Delaware Supreme Court held that where there was probable cause for the DUI arrest and thereafter sufficient performance on the field tests, such does not negate the probable cause that existed prior to the field tests. Lefebvre committed a traffic offense, had a strong odor of alcohol, had a flushed face, was somewhat argumentative with the officer, admitted to drinking an hour and a half prior to the stop, and said that she was not good at the one-leg stand test sober. However, Lefebvre also had fair speech, passed the alphabet, counting, finger dexterity, one-leg stand, and walk-and-turn tests without issue, and exited her car without losing her balance. Notably, Lefebvre conceded, and the Delaware Supreme Court agreed, that probable cause existed prior to the field tests pursuant to Bease v. State, 884 A.2d 495, 498 (Del. 2005). The Court discussed an evaluation of field sobriety tests performed correctly by a defendant in a Driving under the Influence case in the overall "totality of the circumstances." The Court used a chronological approach and essentially held that the determination that probable cause existed could not be undone by later field sobriety tests that were successfully performed by the defendant. The logic is essentially that once the milk is spilled; it cannot be undone. Under the holding in Lefebvre, the Court must go back and view the "totality of the circumstances" prior to the field sobriety tests to see if the officer possessed probable cause, at that point. If he did, then further field tests are essentially irrelevant for consideration in a probable cause hearing. (Lefebvre at 295.)