On Friday, February 28th, 2014, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and former wife to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was acquitted on DUI Drug charges. The 54-year old was charged with driving while impaired after she swerved and hit a tractor-trailer in her Lexus SUV in morning rush-hour traffic.
Kennedy testified that she had gotten her medication mixed up that morning and took ten milligrams of the sleep aid, Ambien. She also insisted that she would not have stayed on the road if she felt the side effects of the drug.
Prosecutor Doreen Lloyd explained to the jury that Kennedy should have felt the side effects of the drug, and that she was responsible for not attempting to get off the road. However, in the end, Kennedy’s attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, proved that there was reasonable doubt and Kennedy escaped charges of up to a year in jail.
People are increasingly being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, both illegal and prescription. Ambien is classified by the FDA as a sedative-hypnotic product, which is what causes its amnesia effect for patients. In some Ambien DUI cases, attorneys have attempted to use the “Involuntary Act” defense. Reasoning goes that to be found guilty of a DUI, one must have been in control of their actions, but if one does not know what they’re doing, which is a labeled side effect of the drug called “sleep driving”, then they should go free. Such like in the Kerry Kennedy case, her counsel proved reasonable doubt that Kennedy knew she had taken the drug and was driving under the influence.
In the state of Arizona, all DUI offenses are taken seriously. In fact, the penalties for a drug related DUI can be more severe than an alcohol related DUI. These consequences include fines, jail time, an ignition interlock requirement, and loss of driving privileges. The main difference in drug related DUI’s and alcohol related DUI’s is loss of driving privileges. In many alcohol related DUI’s, drivers often get restricted driving privileges, meaning that they can drive their car to and from work or school only, after a curtain period of time elapses in their suspension. In the case of a drug DUI, the driver will have their license suspended for a full year with no exceptions.
In any case regarding DUI, it is smart to hire an attorney that is experienced in the DUI/DWI field. These attorneys will know how to assemble the appropriate defense to lessen the charges of your case, or get your case dismissed entirely. Here at the Rosenstein Law Group we will work our hardest to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.