Albany, NY- Kerry Kennedy, one of slain political icon Robert Kennedy’s daughters, testified at her drugged driving trial, telling the jury she did not remember causing a minor accident with tractor trailer last year and she didn’t realize she was impaired.
Kennedy who was once married to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo struck the commercial truck in July 12th on the Westchester Highway. Several witnesses saw Kennedy driving erratically and after striking the truck, she slammed into a guardrail, flattened one of her tires and continued to drive until she eventually exited the highway.
A police officer found Kennedy slumped behind the wheel of her car and placed her under arrest for driving under the influence of drugs. She told officers at the time that she must have taken a sleeping pill instead of her thyroid medication, which she maintained during her trial.
In her testimony, Kennedy said she was approached by an officer who asked her if she had been in an accident. “And I said no because as far as I was concerned I hadn’t been in an accident,” Kennedy told the court according to ABC News. She described feeling dizzy, disoriented and confused, stating she felt like she had “amnesia” about the event.
A blood test revealed Kennedy has zolpidem, a powerful sleeping pill known as Ambien in her system. And prosecutors maintain that even if she took the Ambien mistakenly she had should have pulled over once she realized she was impaired. They insist she had responsibility to pull over and not doing so was careless.
Kennedy testified that she did not remember anything that happened after she entered the highway and only regained her memory once she exited the roadway.
She told the court she didn’t realize she was impaired. She told Prosecutor Doreen Lloyd she’s always fallen asleep immediately after taking her sleeping pills so she had no idea what the effects of the drugs would be if she were awake.
In addition to going into exhaustive detail about Kennedy’s political work, her connection to the powerful political family and the loss of her father Robert Kennedy, her defense attorneys maintained she was not guilty because she was sleep driving. Sleepwalking, sleep-eating and, yes, sleep driving are side effects of Ambien, but that is typically not an effective defense.
The defense also argued that Ambien can take effect very quickly, within 15 minutes of taking the drug so she may not have had time to stop or realize what was happening. Another expert witness also concluded that on Ambien she would not have known she was driving erratically.
Testimony in her case continues today and if she is convicted the charge is a misdemeanor since no one was injured. If convicted she would most likely avoid a jail sentence, but a conviction would damage her reputation. A drugged driving charge is serous an offenders must have an accomplished DUI attorney working on their defense.