Kerry Kennedy, the seventh of Robert Kennedy’s eleven children, is preparing for her DUI trial scheduled to begin on Monday. On July 13, 2012, Kennedy side-swiped a tractor trailer in Westchester County, New York. When police contacted Kennedy, she was in gym clothes, swaying, with impaired speech. Kennedy said she had no memory of the accident. Officers charged her with a DUI.
Kennedy has hired two high profile attorneys to represent her at trial. It is expected that the case will focus on the sleep aid Kennedy had in her system. The defense will argue that she accidentally ingested the sleep aid, believing it to be her thyroid medication. One of her attorneys has indicated that the prescription bottles for these medications look very similar. Kennedy has sleep aids due to her job responsibilities for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which requires international travel. In New York, accidental ingestion is a defense to a DUI drug charge.
Colorado has a DUI drug charge, but there is not a specific “accidental ingestion” defense written into the law. DUI is a strict liability crime in Colorado, meaning a person need not intentionally drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but rather, the prosecution need only prove that the person drove while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both. However, DUI in Colorado does require a voluntary act. The sleep aid Kennedy accidentally ingested is the generic form of Ambien. For some people, Ambien can cause a person to do things in their sleep, including potentially driving. In that situation, there may be an argument that there was no voluntary act, which would be a defense to a DUI.