Recently, Kerry Kennedy was acquitted of driving while under the influence of Ambien despite her testimony admitting to taking the powerful sleep medication prior to getting behind the wheel. Those who are facing charges for drugged driving want to know why. Did Kennedy have outstanding DUID defense attorneys representing her? Is it legal to drive while on drugs under certain circumstances or while using certain drugs? All of these are valid questions, for which the public has a right to know the answers.
The truth is, it is somewhat a combination of all of the above factors, not to mention the added benefit of the Kennedy family having a long and prestigious place in America’s history. Despite the advantages experienced by Kerry Kennedy, her strategy for defense is one that can be applied to the average citizen.
WHY WAS SHE ACQUITTED?
Unlike similar drugged driving cases, Ms. Kennedy’s was taken all the way to trial. This is very unusual for misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug (DUID) charges. Why is debatable. Prosecutors may say that it is because they provide defendants with opportunities to accept lesser charges in exchange for a guilty plea, while defense attorneys often say that it is because taking a DUI case to trial is very expensive.
Don’t get me wrong, there are instances where it is in the best interest of my client to accept a plea bargain, but that is because my client was driving while intoxicated, and accepting a plea bargain will allow them to receive lesser charges than what the law would usually require for their offense.
The difference between Ms. Kennedy’s case and the regular DUI defendant’s is that Ms. Kennedy claimed (claims that a jury took very seriously) that she was unaware that her ability to drive was impaired at the time of her arrest. In fact, the jury came to the conclusion that Ms. Kennedy did not know that the medication she was taking in the morning was Ambien, but that she believed it was her Thyroid medication.
Since the law states that a DUI violation requires that the defendant knew or should have known that their ability to drive was impaired, and Kerry Kennedy’s drugged driving defense lawyers were able to establish that she did not, the jury rightfully acquitted her of the charges.
CAN I USE KERRY’S DEFENSE STRATEGY?
If you legitimately were unaware that you were under the influence at the time of your arrest and have evidence that provides proof, absolutely. The question is whether or not you will be able to convince a judge and/or jury. If you are facing misdemeanor DUID charges and your attorney has been able to negotiate a deal in which you pay fines, do some classes, and the offense is wiped from your record, would you want to go to trial?
I admit this is not a fair predicament to place on an innocent person. Unfortunately, these are the types of questions that every DWI defendant must ask themselves. If a jury finds you guilty in California, you could spend up to a year in jail for a DUID offense. Are you willing to risk that when you have an opportunity to have the whole thing wiped from your record?
Kerry Kennedy was willing to risk it, but she was in a much better position than the general public to do so.
WAS KENNEDY’S DUID ATTORNEY THE REASON SHE WON?
No, but they did put her in a great position to be successful. When the trial started, prosecutors made it clear that they were taking this case very seriously. Why? Because the public often alleges that the criminal justice system treats celebrities differently than the general public. They wanted to show that they treat the Kennedys and the average Joes the same.
If you followed the trial, you likely formed a different opinion. Some feel that prosecutors were overzealous during the case; that Ms. Kennedy is a hard-working single mom doing what’s best for her and her kids, and that the whole case was a waste of time. How this perception came to form cannot be determined conclusively, but I would argue that Kennedy’s defense attorneys are largely responsible for the public perception of Kerry Kennedy. This may have had a substantial impact when the jury was given the task to determine whether or not Ms. Kennedy was guilty.
Those facing charges for DUID can benefit greatly by having a skilled drugged driving attorney to represent them. If you or someone you know has been arrested in Southern California for an alleged offense, call today to receive assistance from one of our experienced attorneys. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and consultation to help you get on the right track.