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Standard Field Sobriety Tests in Delaware

The administration of field sobriety test usually occurs once an officer views an individual as driving under the influence. Basically, police officers use three main field sobriety test, the horizontal gaze, one leg balance, and backward recitation of the alphabet. However, Delaware may employ other measures or types of field sobriety test or multiple field sobriety tests of the same kind. Typically, the officers administer two to three tests to affirm the presumption that the driver is driving under the influence. However, Delaware allows the exclusion of field sobriety test results for disable individuals as well as the horizontal gaze test results without expert testimony. Also, field sobriety tests are challenges on the basis of improper foundation, lack of multiple tests, lack of scientific evidence, and improper procedure.

Police officers are trained to perform a field sobriety test through the use of proper procedure. Typically, officers must follow guidelines set forth by the Highway Safety as well as specific Delaware Law to perform a field sobriety test. An initial stop usually occurs before a field sobriety test is completed. However, Delaware uses sobriety checkpoints where individuals may be asked to perform a field sobriety test based on the police officer’s reasonably suspicion that a crime is about to or is occurring. An officer may administer multiple field sobriety tests either of the same type or different types. Delaware usually requires additional evidence along with field sobriety test.

Typically, the evidence obtained through the use of a field sobriety test is admissible in a court. However, evidence obtained from a field sobriety test when an individual is disabled will usually be inadmissible. Basically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association upholds that disabilities hinder a person’s performance on field sobriety test. Therefore, the court will usually suppress evidence from a field sobriety test for a disabled person. Yet, the type of disability identified may allow an officer to use a field sobriety test to provide a foundation that the individual was driving under the influence with additional evidence.

The evidence collected from officers through the use of the horizontal gaze test will not be admitted into evidence without expert testimony. The State of Delaware requires expert testimony to identify the scientific principles used by the horizontal gaze test. The absence of expert testimony will not be admitted into evidence. However, expert testimony must build the foundation for the horizontal gaze results to be admissible. Additionally, the horizontal gaze field sobriety test is not admissible to quantify a person’s blood alcohol level.

Individuals may challenge the results of a field sobriety test through identifying a disability that hindered their ability to successful perform a field sobriety test. The presence of a disability will usually refute the rests of a field sobriety test. Also, individuals may challenge field sobriety test results through the type of procedures used by the officers, the lack of multiple testing, and the subjectivity of the officer. However, successful challenges against the results of a field sobriety test will usually not occur unless an officer obviously didn’t follow proper procedures. Additionally, individuals must show that other evidence did not exist to support the results of the field sobriety tests.

Furthermore, a standard field sobriety test must be completed by a trained professional such as a police officer following proper guidelines. Also, the results obtained must be collaborated by other evidence. Specifically, the horizontal gaze field sobriety test will not be admissible without expert testimony. Finally, individuals may challenge field sobriety test results based on improper procedure, invalid scientific support, and lack of multiple testing.


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