Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Understanding the Kerry Kennedy Sleep Driving Case

Do you take Ambien or another kind of sleeping drug?

If so, you are at a high risk for driving-related accidents caused from drowsy driving or even sleep driving. Yes, you heard us right; sleep driving, like sleep walking, is when you drive in your sleep without knowing it, and you have no memory of the event after the fact.
Back in 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that these types of sedative-hypnotic drugs change their labeling to better stress their risky side effects, one of which is sleep driving. Nearly nine years later, we are still seeing several instances of users who have driven—whether knowingly or unknowingly—under the influence of these potent drugs, despite warnings.

Why was Kerry Kennedy acquitted?

Most recently, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was charged with driving under the influence of a drug in the state of New York. She testified that she mistakenly took the wrong prescription drug the morning of the accident. She claims she did not feel any effects while she was getting ready to leave the house. She can only remember up to the point when she entered the highway; the next thing she knew, her car was stalled and a police officer was knocking on her window. Kennedy had side-swiped a tractor-trailer and was charged with an Ambien DUI, as she was found with the sleep aid in her system. Kennedy was acquitted of her charge.

The public is undoubtedly split on this case. Should people like Kerry Kennedy be held accountable for their actions, or do they even have control over their actions to begin with? This is by no means the first time this has happened, nor is it the last. Almost a decade ago, sleeping drugs, such as Ambien and Lunesta, were showing up in the top 10 lists of drugs found in impaired drivers in many state toxicology laboratories, according to an NBC News article. These are incredibly potent drugs and should be taken with extreme precaution.

Should you be convicted of a crime you had no control over?

In the state of Washington, driving while under the influence of alcohol is not the only impairment-related driving crime. It is just as illegal to drive while under the influence of Ambien or any other prescription or over-the-counter medications. In fact, Washington law enforcement and prosecutors have a no-tolerance policy. This means if you have been pulled over on the suspicion that you are drug-impaired, your chances of getting slapped with a DUI are far greater.

Driving Precautions to Take while Taking AmbienThat is why you need a Washington State DUI Ambien defense attorney to help you get your life back on track. You are facing criminal charges, but perhaps more frightening than that is the fact that you have come to rely on a medication that leaves you powerless to its effects. You have no control of what you do when you are under its influence, and that is scary stuff. We will do our best to build a defense for your criminal case while also encouraging you to consult your medical team for help in regaining control without your sleep suffering.

It is important to stress that, if you have been pulled over for sleep driving, you were not in control of your actions. In fact, you most likely have no recollection of getting behind the wheel. Should you be convicted of committing criminal actions when those actions were completely out of your control? We contend that you should not.

Read about our Ambien DUI defense attorneys here and call us today.

Tips for Safer Use

If you feel you must take a sleeping aid in order to get your rest, here are some tips that will hopefully keep you safer:

  • NEVER take the sleeping pill while you are out and especially not while you are driving. This may surprise you, but some people have admitted to taking their sleeping medication while driving so that it would kick in just in time to go to bed. This is highly dangerous and completely unnecessary, as these drugs have a rapid onset and should not be taken until you are ready to go to bed.
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. The sedative effect of these drugs can last this long, if not longer. You should also refrain from driving soon after waking up in the morning, as it can take hours for the effects to wear off. If you drive too early, you may be too drowsy to be safe.
  • NEVER take the drug with alcohol. The combination can make the user even drowsier than he or she would have been with the drug alone.

To learn more about Ambien and its affects on your ability to drive, please speak you’re your doctor or contact our Ambien DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden.