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Kerry Kennedy found not guilty of drugged driving

After a jury acquitted her of drugged driving charges, Kerry Kennedy said she had her defense lawyers, not her last name to thank.

As we discussed last week, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and niece of John F. Kennedy was arrested and charged with drugged driving in July 2012 after she was witnessed driving erratically before getting into a minor accident. She was discovered by police asleep behind the wheel of her SUV.

A drug test determined that Kennedy had the prescription sleep aid Ambien in her blood when the accident took place. She was charged with a misdemeanor DUI and could have pleaded guilty in order to avoid a public trial, but she decided to fight the charges.

In an interview this week, Kennedy told TODAY’s Matt Lauer that she fought the charges because a conviction would have negatively affected her career as a humanitarian. She said far too many people take guilty pleas not knowing the far-reaching affects it will have on their lives.

Additionally, she said that her “competent counsel” is what won the case for her.

Kennedy’s attorneys successfully argued that while she was indeed under the influence of Ambien when she drove, she had taken the medication accidentally that day when she meant to take her thyroid medication. Therefore, they argued, she didn’t have the intent necessary for a DUI conviction.

Kennedy said it’s unfair that many Americans don’t have the financial means to hire a defense attorney or get time off of work to take their case to trial after being charged with a DUI or another misdemeanor. She said this needs to change.

Source: TODAY, “Kerry Kennedy: People saying I banked on family name in court are 'wrong',” Eun Kyung Kim, March 3, 2014

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