White Plains, NY- Last week, Kerry Kennedy was acquitted for drugged driving and she says it was not because of her infamous family. She said her acquittal was the result of her “wonderful attorneys.”
The 54 year-old daughter of Robert F. Kennedy claimed she accidentally took a sleeping pill one morning in July of 2012 right as she was leaving her house to run errands. While driving, Kennedy told the court, she began to feel the effects of the sleeping pill causing her to driver erratically along a New York state highway where she also collided with a tractor-trailer. She eventually pulled over and police found her slumped over the wheel.
When police placed her under arrest, she said she meant to take her thyroid medication, but must have taken a sleeping pill instead. She was charged with a DUI and has been fighting the charges for close to 20 months. As president of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, a plea bargain would have jeopardized her career and would have prevented her from traveling abroad for up to ten years so she decided to fight the charges.
Prosecutors insisted Kennedy should have pulled over as soon as she realized she had taken the wrong drug and she was reckless by not pulling over.
After a week of testimony, Kennedy was found innocent of driving under the influence and she said it was not because of her famous lineage; she said on the Today she was exonerated because she was “innocent” and had “wonderful attorneys.”
She told host Matt Lauer, “I think that I won this case for three basic reasons. Number one, I was innocent. Number two, I had competent counsel. And number three, I was willing to bring it to trial.”
She acknowledged she was able to go to court and challenge the drugged driving charge because she could afford to hire very good attorneys. She added that many people in similar situations just take a plea bargain because they cannot afford to hire an attorney.
“For so many people who have misdemeanors, (they) are not able to afford counsel. They can’t go out and hire lawyers and therefore, they plead to something that they didn’t do,” Kennedy said.
She also said that it was important to give lower income people equal access to the justice system. But how that can be changed is a different matter altogether, and let’s hope Ms. Kennedy uses some of her noteworthiness to take action on this matter.
A drugged driving charge is serious and should be taken that way. The penalties can include jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, loss of driving privileges and community service, to name a few.
Some offenders may think they cannot afford a DUI attorney, but that isn’t always the case. Even if you can afford the very best attorneys like Kennedy, you can still afford an attorney. It’s well worth the extra money to try and beat a DUI charge.