Kerry Kennedy Takes Plea Deal in N.Y. Impaired Driving Case
In an exclusive, the New York Daily News reports that Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of slain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, will plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident that occurred in July 2012. Kennedy will do this as a plea bargain to avoid a drugged driving conviction that could make it difficult for her to travel to do human rights work, as Oren Yaniv and Larry McShane write for the New York Daily News.
A conviction on the misdemeanor count of driving while impaired by drugs could also cause Kennedy to lose her driver’s license for six months, the Daily News reports. In another Daily News article, Daniel Beekman and Corky Siemaszko write that if Kennedy were convicted of driving while impaired, she could get up to a year in jail, but because she has no criminal record, it is unlikely she will do any time.
Lawyers for the 54-year-old Kennedy, who is the ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, argued that without the plea bargain, she could be prevented from traveling to such countries as Canada, Austria, and New Zealand if she is found guilty of driving while on prescription medication, the Daily News writes. Yaniv and McShane add: “Kennedy’s travels have taken her to more than 60 nations over the last three decades — but it was a crash in suburban North Castle near her Westchester County home that caused her legal woes.” Kennedy, the president of the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights, was doing charity work in Brussels and the Western Sahara last week during jury selection, Beekman and Siemaszko write.
In an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press reports that William Carino testified Monday at the trial that he found Kennedy disoriented and slumped at the steering wheel of her car on a suburban New York highway. The highway was Interstate 684, as this blog reported in July 2012. An earlier witness said he saw Kennedy swerve her car into a tractor-trailer and continue driving, despite tire damage, AP writes.
Gerald Lefcourt, a lawyer for Kennedy, said his client is not disagreeing with the statement that she drove erratically in the 2012 incident. Kennedy accidentally took a sleeping pill that morning instead of her thyroid medication, he said.
The Daily News writes:
‘Our defense in this case is that Kerry Kennedy did not knowingly and intentionally ingest those sleeping pills,’ [defense lawyer William] Aronwald said Friday.
‘The pills are very similar,’ said Aronwald. ‘She took what she thought was her thyroid medication.’
Kennedy continued driving after the 8 a.m. crash, and police found her behind the wheel of her white 2008 Lexus SUV; no one was injured in the two-vehicle accident, the Daily News writes. “Blood testing showed traces of Ambien in Kennedy’s system about five hours after the accident,” the Daily News writes. Kennedy is the best-selling author of Being Catholic Now and Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, according to her bio at the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights.
As this blog wrote in July 2012:
A recent article by Sharon Kirkey in The Vancouver Sun, ‘Experts sound alarm over sleeping pills,’ mentions a study on sleeping pills published this year in the British Medical Journal as saying that sleeping pills and tranquilizers can impair motor and cognitive skills needed for driving. ‘The drugs have been linked with an increase in car crashes and falls due to “hangover” effects,’ Kirkey writes.
In Colorado, it is a misdemeanor to drive while under the influence of drugs, according to druggeddriving.org. Earlier this month, this blog reported on a new study that could be of special interest to Coloradans since the state legalized recreational use of pot at the start of this year. The study found that fatal crashes involving marijuana use tripled from 1999 to 2010.