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DUI Entrapment And How To Defend Yourself

For most people facing DUI charges in Virginia, a top concern is finding a strong legal defense to the charges. Some people in this difficult situation may wonder whether entrapment could be a valid defense. DUI entrapment is exceedingly rare, and arguing entrapment is highly unlikely to result in a favorable outcome. Fortunately, there are many other valid defenses to DUI charges. At Driving Defense Law, our Virginia DUI lawyers may be able to evaluate your case and determine the best way to handle the charges based on the unique circumstances of the case. Contact us today at (757) 929-0335 to learn more in a free consultation.

What Is Entrapment?

According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), entrapment is a legal defense that applies when a government official, such as a police officer, induces someone to commit a crime when that person otherwise would not have likely committed the crime. There is a common misconception that a police officer can entrap a suspect by simply giving them a chance to commit a crime. In reality, this is not enough for entrapment to be a valid legal defense. In general, to successfully argue entrapment, the defendant must show evidence that police misconduct, such as threats, fraud, or harassment, induced them to commit a crime.

If a defendant––or their lawyer, if the accused is working with professional legal counsel––decides to use the entrapment defense, courts may use either of two standards, objective or subjective, to determine whether the defense is valid. The standards used vary by state, and Virginia uses the objective standard in entrapment cases. Florida State University Law Review describes the subjective standard as focusing less on the government’s involvement and more on the defendant’s willingness to engage in the criminal activity. In the objective standard, the intent or predisposition of the defendant is generally not the primary consideration when determining entrapment. Rather, the emphasis is on the behavior of law enforcement and whether it was likely to lead a reasonable person to commit the crime.

Is Entrapment a Common DUI Defense?

Entrapment is not a common defense in DUI cases. Entrapment entails law enforcement inducing someone to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise. With DUI charges, the focus is typically on whether the individual was driving under the influence, rather than whether they were coerced or manipulated into doing so by law enforcement. For entrapment to apply in a DUI case, the defendant, and their attorney, if applicable, would need to prove that the defendant would not have consumed alcohol and driven, if not for misconduct by law enforcement personnel.

Some people who are charged with DUI may suspect entrapment if a police officer was waiting outside of a bar to pull people over on suspicion of DUI. However, this scenario is not typically considered an example of entrapment. In most DUI cases, the focus would instead be on whether the arresting officer had probable cause to pull the driver over and administer a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. 

What Are Some Valid Defenses to DUI Charges?

Although entrapment is very rarely a valid defense to DUI charges, individuals charged with DUI should understand the other available defenses. You may be able to learn more about DUI entrapment and defenses to DUI charges by contacting the Virginia DUI defense lawyers at Driving Defense Law.

Challenging Breathalyzer Test Accuracy or Administration

Virginia police officers commonly administer breathalyzer tests when they suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, a test result of .08% or higher is enough for a DUI charge. However, some cases may involve issues with the accuracy or administration of breathalyzer tests. Issues with the administration or accuracy of the test, such as miscalibration or mishandled samples, can cast doubt on the credibility of the test and may be used as a legal defense.

Challenging the Accuracy or Administration of a Field Sobriety Test

Field sobriety tests are often imperfect, and challenging the validity of these tests is a common defense strategy in DUI cases. Such challenges typically involve scrutinizing the arresting officer’s conduct during the test. Police officers are required to adhere to standardized procedures and to follow proper administration standards. Deviations from these protocols or failure to accurately communicate instructions can be used as defenses to DUI charges. 

Contesting the Legality of the Traffic Stop

In certain cases, DUI charges could potentially be dismissed based on issues with the traffic stop, particularly a lack of probable cause. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires police officers to have a valid reason to initiate a traffic stop. 

A DUI defense lawyer may challenge the legality of a stop by casting doubt on whether the officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull the driver over. Common examples of probable cause may include observable erratic driving or traffic violations. If there is insufficient evidence of probable cause, the stop could be deemed unlawful, and any evidence obtained during the stop could potentially be considered inadmissible in court.

What Should You Do After a DUI in Virginia?

After a DUI arrest, an individual’s actions can significantly impact the outcome of their case. Document all details related to the arrest, including the location, reason, and time of the stop. Note whether the arresting officer read your Miranda rights, and record other information related to the interaction with the arresting officer, including any unusual details. A lawyer, if the individual chooses to hire one, could potentially use this information to build a strong defense to the charges.

Generally, it is strongly recommended that anyone arrested for DUI speak with an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer with experience in these cases may be able to work towards securing the best possible outcome for the case, such as dropped charges, reduced charges, or a reduced sentence, depending on the circumstances.

Discuss Your DUI Case With a Virginia Traffic Lawyer

DUI entrapment does not happen often and is typically not a valid legal defense. However, other legal defenses could potentially apply to your DUI case. If you are facing a recent DUI charge in Virginia, the experienced team of Virginia DUI defense lawyers at Driving Defense Law is ready to help. They may be able to thoroughly review your case, craft a defense based on the facts, and guide you through each step of the legal process. Contact their office today at (757) 929-0335 to learn more about fighting DUI charges in Virginia.