Friday, 28. February 2014
A 6-person jury ruled that Kerry Kennedy was not guilty of drugged driving on Friday after defense attorneys argued that Kennedy accidentally took the sleeping pill and its affects clouded her judgment to the point that she couldn’t consciously make the decision to pull over.
“I’m incredibility grateful to the jury for working so hard on this case, and to my lawyers and to my family and friends and so many other people who supported me,” Kennedy said at the conclusion of the trial. “I’m just happy justice was done.”
Kennedy faced misdemeanor drugged driving charges after she got behind the wheel after accidentally taking Ambien instead of taking her thyroid medication. Kennedy crashed her car into a tractor-trailer and claimed she had no recollection of the accident at trial.
“If I realized I was impaired, I would have pulled over,” Kennedy testified.
As the case proceeded, it was clear that both prosecutors and defense attorneys believed Kennedy took the sleeping pill on accident, but they were split on what they believe happened next. Prosecutors argued that Kennedy knowingly ignored signs of impairment while she was driving, while defense attorneys claimed the pill made her unable to recognize the warning signs.
Ordinarily, controlled substance DWIs are difficult cases to prove, especially when the drug is prescribed, such as the sleeping aid Ambien. When folks take medications, they believe, and rightfully so, that their doctors are looking out for them, and that they understand the side effects and problems arising from the use of any medication.
With Ambien, and other prescribed sleeping medications, the onset of drowsiness can be swift. Many folks who are not familiar with medications may not have sufficient time to realize what is happening. They become drowsy in a matter of minutes, and in some cases nod off shortly after taking the pills. The pharmacologist who testified in Kennedy’s case told the jury that folks who take sleeping aids are often unaware of what is happening biologically.
The prosecutor in the Kennedy case had an uphill battle. Once prosecutors conceded that Kennedy took the medication accidentally, the state was left to argue that she had to realize that she was drifting off to sleep, and that she should have pulled over at the moment she realized her senses were impaired. When confronted with various medical and pharmacological experts refuting the state’s contention, the jury simply had to acquit her.
Related source: Dailymail.co.uk