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Affirmative defenses in drunk driving cases

Criminal defense attorneys in Georgia and around the country will generally challenge drunk driving charges by questioning the validity of toxicology test results or pointing out procedural errors made by the police officers involved, but there are situations where an affirmative defense may be mounted in DUI cases. When criminal defendants mount an affirmative defense, they admit that they committed the crime in question but provide evidence that they hope will negate their behavior.

Entrapment is a common affirmative defense. This argument could be made in drunk driving cases if a police officer encouraged the defendant to consume alcohol or gave assurances that the driver would not be pulled over. Involuntary intoxication is probably the most common affirmative defense mounted in DUI cases. This occurs when individuals are unknowingly given alcohol or drugs.

Necessity and duress are also affirmative impaired driving defenses. Defendants could claim duress if they were coerced into driving while intoxicated, but they would have to establish that they legitimately feared death or serious injury had they not complied. Drunk driving defendants could argue necessity when getting behind the wheel after drinking was the only way to prevent a greater evil. Drivers could mount this type of defense if they were pulled over for drunk driving while escaping a perilous situation or taking a badly injured person to a hospital.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may be reluctant to mount an affirmative defense to DUI charges unless the evidence supporting it is compelling. This is because the penalties for impaired driving can be severe, and mounting an affirmative defense involves admitting guilt. When toxicology evidence is overwhelming and the facts of the case seem clear, attorneys may seek to reduce the severity of the penalties imposed by pointing out mitigating factors during plea negotiation talks.

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