Washingtonians accused of a crime should take solace that a criminal charge is hardly a guarantee of a criminal conviction. Take, for example, the experience of Kerry Kennedy, a high-profile human rights activist and daughter of the assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. Kennedy was recently acquitted of drugged driving charges following a four-day trial.
The trial ended an ordeal that started in 2012 when Kennedy accidentally took an Ambien instead of her intended thyroid medication. After accidentally taking the Ambien, Kennedy headed to the gym in her car. On the way, she began driving erratically and eventually hit a tractor trailer. Afterwards authorities pulled her over and conducted several sobriety tests, each of which she failed. When taken to a nearby police station, however, Kennedy passed the tests.
At trial, the government argued Kennedy knew she was impaired, but drove anyway. Kennedy, in contrast, argued that the Ambien hijacked her ability to make decisions. A jury ultimately agreed with Kennedy.
The acquittal is comforting news for Washingtonians facing DUI charges because highlights one of several ways criminal charges can be defeated. Other common routes to victory typically revolve around police errors. For example, sometimes police lack probable cause to pull over a vehicle. Or police improperly conduct a traffic stop. They, for instance, may incorrectly administer a field sobriety test, breathalyzer or blood draw.
If these police errors lead to evidence, in many instances that evidence will be suppressed. That is, the government will not be allowed to use it. If so, prosecutors will often reduce or even dismiss charges.
To identify these, and other, errors, Washingtonians may benefit from discussing their case with an experienced DUI attorney.
Source: The Washington Post, "Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK, found not guilty of driving while impaired," Jaime Fuller, Feb. 28, 2014