There’s no doubt that the extreme majority, if not all, of Americans understand that driving under the influence is against the law. The dangers of such actions have been consistently proven, and there are unfortunately deaths on American streets every day when people choose to engage in this behavior.
If there’s one group of people who should fully understand the law related to DUI, though, it’s those involved in politics. This includes individuals from political families and those who are engaged in political activism, and this is what makes it so strange that Kerry Kennedy was recently charged with driving while intoxicated.
Many people were shocked when Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). This charge is usually faced by those who are driving while impaired but don’t reach the .08 percent blood alcohol content threshold necessary for a DUI charge.
This is because police alleged that the Kennedy was under the influence of medication. In fact, Kennedy admitted to this, but the trial still didn’t end in her conviction.
For a person to be convicted of most crimes, even impaired driving, it must be shown that they meant to engage in the behavior. Choosing to drink or take medication before driving is enough to satisfy this factor. Kennedy, though, claimed that she accidentally took a sleeping pill while meaning to take her thyroid medicine. Since Kennedy had no intention of driving while impaired, she was found not guilty.
The penalties that Kennedy could’ve faced make it obvious why she fought against the charge. In New York, where she was charged, Kennedy could’ve received a full year in jail in addition to other penalties. It should be noted, though, that these consequences will vary by state.
In Florida, for instance, a person could face a maximum of six months as long as their BAC is under .15 percent.
While it seems as if this may make Florida lighter on impaired driving, this simply isn’t the case. The maximum fine in Florida, for instance, is twice as high as what may be given in The Empire State. Additionally, a Floridian’s license can be suspended for a full year. This is relatively harsh considering the fact that many states will only suspend a person’s license for three months.
Florida DUI Defense Attorney firm Katz & Phillips states that “DUI-related penalties focus not only on simple punishment, but on preventing the possibility of repeat offenses, and so may require such unique requirements as substance abuse treatment or the installation of the ignition interlock device which prevents your vehicle from starting if your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit.”
Was there Differential Treatment?
There have been accusations that Kerry Kennedy was treated differently due to who she was, but it wasn’t in the common way that we often think about.
In fact, it appears as if being a Kennedy actually hurt her. Many people involved in the case stated that the prosecution shouldn’t have even gone forward with the case. The prosecuting attorney, however, said that the charge was brought forward because they wished to avoid anyone thinking that Kennedy got off easy just because of her name. In the end, it actually ended up working exactly opposite of how most Americans would expect.
Driving under the influence of a drug, whether medication or alcohol, is a dangerous behavior. Criminal law is meant to punish those who engage in this behavior, but in reality, there are undoubtedly individuals who are steamrolled by the system in an effort to get a conviction or simply keep the flow of cases moving. Because of this, it’s imperative for anyone facing a drunk driving charge to seek out legal help and do their best to avoid a conviction. In the end, this can have a dramatically positive effect on an individual’s future.
Teresa Stewart is a blogger who frequently researches celebrity DUI cases. By reviewing the Katz & Phillips website she discovered that there is always a viable defense that a skilled attorney can employ to prevent their clients from having to do any jail time or reduce the charges and penalties against them.
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