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Kerry Kennedy not guilty in drugged driving case

As we have discussed in the past, it is possible to be charged with driving under the influence of drugs in addition to driving under the influence of alcohol. It is also possible to be charged with drugged driving when legal prescription drugs impair a person’s ability to drive.

A recent high-profile drugged driving case involved Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy was charged with drugged driving in July 2012 after she was seen driving erratically and eventually passed out behind the wheel of her Lexus SUV.

A drug test revealed that Kennedy had the powerful sleep medication Ambien in her system when the incident occurred. Prosecutors argued that Kennedy should be convicted of DUI, but her defense team argued that Kennedy had taken the Ambien accidently when she intended to take her thyroid medication.

At the trial this week, the defense team presented the jury with the bottles of the Ambien and the thyroid medication, which were identical. Essentially, the defense argued that Kennedy had been “sleep driving” and did not have the “intent” necessary to convict her of DUI.

This morning, the jury agreed, finding Kennedy not guilty of drugged driving after a quick deliberation.

This case not only involves a high-profile family, it also brings up an important point in criminal cases: In order to be convicted of crime, the defendant must have intentionally broken a law. In this case, the defense team successfully argued that Kennedy had not intended to drive while under the influence of Ambien.

Source: New York Post, “Kerry Kennedy not guilty of drugged driving,” Laurel Babcock and Andrea Peyser, Feb. 28, 2014

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