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Kerry Kennedy acquitted, avoids penalties for Ambien-linked crash

The daughter of a former New York senator and presidential candidate, Kerry Kennedy, was acquitted of a DUI charge after a trial that lasted for four days. Her lawyer mounted a DWI defense against the charge of driving under the influence of a drug after Kennedy was taken into custody following an incident where she reportedly swerved off the Interstate in morning rush hour traffic and sideswiped a tractor-trailer in July 2012.

The former wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the court that she had accidentally taken the wrong medication the morning of the incident. She said that she found out only from toxicology reports that she must have swallowed an Ambien sleep aid instead of the correct pill before taking the wheel. Prosecutors tried to shed doubt on whether she knew which pill she had ingested the day that police found her slumped over the wheel of her Lexus SUV, which was stalled after hitting the semi truck.

Kennedy said that she was not angry with prosecutors for bringing the case against her to trial, but her attorney voiced his suspicion that it was because of her political family name. In response, the county district attorney's office said that Kennedy's case was treated no differently from any of the other 2,500 cases of alleged impaired driving they pursue each year. The statement also said that the prosecutor's office respected the jury's decision to acquit.

Anyone charged with felony DWI or misdemeanor DWI has the right to counsel in their defense in a court of law. An attorney may be able to question the evidence brought in by the prosecution team. For instance, if the driver was not given the blood alcohol test within the required time frame, that evidence may be inadmissible in court since the results are unreliable.

Source: CNN, "Kerry Kennedy acquitted in DWI trial", Lena Jakobsson and Ray Sanchez, February 28, 2014

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