William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Are speed traps entrapment?

A police officer pulls out from a hidden road, around a bend and behind a tree, lights flashing. You were speeding, and you blew right past him.

Now you're getting a ticket, but you're convinced it can't be legal. The police were essentially hiding and waiting for you to break the limit. Isn't that entrapment? Isn't entrapment illegal?

This is a common misconception, though it's half right. Entrapment is illegal. However, this isn't entrapment.

Perhaps simply due to the word "trap" itself, people often assume a hidden police car is the problem. The reality, though, is that police can hide to catch you. They don't have to tell you where they are or make their presence obvious.

Entrapment is not so much just laying a trap, but then encouraging a person to break the law. Police can't convince you to break the law just to arrest you or give you a ticket.

For instance, an undercover officer can't see you sitting in a sports car at a stoplight, then ask you how fast it can go and challenge you to a race, all so that he can flip his lights on as you go over the limit. That's entrapment because, without the officer's involvement, you never would have broken the law in the first place. Police can only react to what people do voluntarily, rather than getting them to commit violations for the sake of arrest quotas or ticket revenue.

While it may not be entrapment, it is still very important to know all of the legal defense options you have when you've been given a traffic citation of any kind.

Source: FindLaw, "Are Speed Traps Legal?," accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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