Kerry Kennedy’s Statements In DWAI Case—Were They Prudent?

As has been widely reported by now, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and ex-wife of Governor Andrew Cuomo, is charged with Driving While Ability Impaired By Drugs in the North Castle Town Court on July 13, 2012. The charges were filed after an accident with a tractor-trailer in I-684 southbound when Ms. Kennedy was allegedly driving her 2008 Lexus 350 erratically and struck a tractor-trailer on I-684 southbound near Exit 4 in Mount Kisco after appearing to fall asleep at the wheel. Ms. Kennedy is then accused of leaving the scene and being found slumped over her steering wheel by a North Castle police officer with a flat tire.

Initially, Ms. Kennedy was reported to have informed North Castle police officers that she might have taken an Ambien instead of Synthroid, a medication prescribed for people who have either a hyperactive or hypoactive thyroid. However, after her arraignment and plea of not guilty to the charges against her, Ms. Kennedy stated in a news conference that she was informed by her physicians that she may have suffered a partial seizure due to a prior head injury, which was purportedly seen on abnormal radiological test results, including an electroencephalogram (EEG).

Kennedy has since acknowledged that blood tests which her attorneys immediately reported as being negative, did show “traces” of Ambien in her blood. Under these circumstances, if the evidence against Ms. Kennedy was limited to evidence of drugs in her system, (and she had not had another DWI within 5 years), Ms. Kennedy would be eligible for a conditional license, which would allow her to drive to and from work, doctor’s appointments and Court mandated activities while her license is suspended.

However, with Ms. Kennedy’s own statements during a press conference that she suffered a partial seizure, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles could suspend Ms. Kennedy’s license and not permit her to obtain a conditional license, until she is able to establish that her seizures are under control. The DMV issued a statement as follows: “The DMV suspends the driver’s license until a physician provides a certification that the condition is treated or controlled and does not affect driving skills.”

Therefore, the more prudent course might have been not to make any public statements until the blood test results were available. Ms. Kennedy is due back in Court on August 14, 2012 for further proceedings in the case. Undoubtedly, there have been some negotiations between her attorneys and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, but with the high profile nature of this case, along with the fact that Ms. Kennedy was involved in an accident and left the scene thereafter, this case is not likely to resolve immediately.

If Kennedy is convicted of the DWAID charge, she would face a six month revocation of her driver’s license; a $500.00 fine and mandatory New York State surcharge of $400.00; have to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in any vehicle she owns or operates for one year; be screened for alcohol and/or substance abuse; be required to attend a 7 week Drinking Driver Program sponsored by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (known as the “DDP”), and also have to attend one session of a MADD Victim Impact Panel. Further, she would be facing an additional fine of $750.00 known as a “Driver’s Responsibility Assessment” from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles.

Contact the Westchester County DWI Attorneys online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 for a free consultation to discuss your DWI case, refusal to take a chemical test, felony DWI under Leandra’s Law, or other criminal charges with an experienced, knowledgeable DWI lawyer.