The Law Offices of John Phebus

Kennedy acquitted of driving under the influence of Ambien

As opposed to drinking alcohol to a point that impairs driving skills and leads to a charge of drunk driving, drugged driving involves taking medication or drugs, whether legal or illegal, prescribed or not, that impair one’s driving skills. A recent high-profile case involving a member of one of America’s most prominent families has resulted in an acquittal of drugged driving charges.

Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, was charged in 2012 of driving under the influence of the drug Ambien. Ambien is a prescription pill which is marketed as a fast-acting sleep aid. Before being stopped by police, Kennedy reportedly drove approximately five miles while allegedly speeding and swerving. She hit a tractor-trailer and drove on a bare rim after popping a tire. 

Kennedy’s primary defense was that she mistakenly took the sleeping medication instead of her thyroid medication because the pills looked alike. Prosecutors asked a jury to ignore Kennedy’s privileged background and hold her accountable for her actions. In addition to Kennedy’s ancestry, she is also the ex-wife of Andrew Cuomo, the current governor of New York, which is where she was charged with the misdemeanor.

Driving under the influence of certain medications can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. But one difference is that, unlike alcohol, the dangers of driving after taking some medications may not be as well-publicized or as well-known as the dangers involved with alcohol. While some drugs may carry warnings in fine print on a prescription bottle, even the manufacturers of some prescription medications have not yet acknowledged all of the side effects. 

If you are charged with driving under the influence of a medication, an experienced attorney may be able to help you mount a viable defense. Whether you are considered American royalty or just an ordinary resident of Arizona, everyone is entitled to criminal defense counsel when charged with a crime.

Source: The Journal News, “Kerry Kennedy acquitted of drugged driving,” Erik Shilling, Feb. 28, 2014

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