Broward County, FL- Broward County Judge Lynn Rosenthal said in a radio interview this week that she as sleep driving when she was arrested for DUI in May.
On May 27th, Judge Rosenthal was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after she ran into a parked patrol car in the judge’s parking lot at the Broward County Courthouse. After the accident police charged he with DUI and placed her in custody.
When in she was in police custody, Rosenthal submitted to a breath test which detected no alcohol in system. Police then asked her to submit to blood and urine tests, but she refused. In her interview with Local 10’s Bob Norman, Rosenthal said she refused to take the blood test, but not the urine test. She didn’t explain why she objected to the blood test, but said police only gave her an option to take both so she refused.
Rosenthal said she wasn’t intoxicated at the time of her arrest. Instead, she was “sleep driving” and was unaware of what she was doing until she was involved in the collision, Local 10 reported. She said she had taken a powerful sleeping pill, Ambien, the night before and her doctor instructed her to take the wrong dosage.
Prosecutors dropped her charges to reckless driving, and Rosenthal was sentenced to three months’ probation, 25 hours community service, and was ordered to pay restitution.
The sleep driving defense was used by Kerry Kennedy when she was facing an intoxicated driving charge last year. Kennedy was arrested in July 2012 after she was involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer and drove away from the scene. When police caught up with her a few miles down the road, she was slumped over the wheel of her Mercedes.
Kennedy denied being intoxicated and, like Rosenthal, said her erratic driving was the result of her mistakenly taking an Ambien that morning. She claimed she took the sleeping pill by mistake and was not aware of her actions. Her defense worked and she was acquitted of intoxicated driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 5 percent of women in the U.S. take prescription sleep aides.
Prescription sleep aides, such as Ambien and Elduar, which contain zolpidem, are powerful drugs. So powerful that in January of 2013, the FDA issued a warning about the long-lasting effects of these drugs. According to US News, the FDA received 700 complaints of zolpidem leading to “impaired driving and/or road accidents.” Because of the potential sleep driving dangers associated with zolpidem, the FDA recommended doctors reduce dosages for their female patients.
Conventionally, a “sleep driving” defense is ineffective if a person willingly takes a sleeping pill and gets behind the wheel. But as with any DUI case, there are extenuating circumstances that can utilized by a DUI attorney to build an effective defense.
When you are facing a DUI, whether for drugs or alcohol, you will benefit from having a DUI attorney working on your case. In many cases, your legal counsel will give you a fighting chance of avoiding a conviction or possibly having your penalties reduced.