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Kerry Kennedy’s Ambien Haze


Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy and ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had Zolpidem, a generic version of the popular sleep aid Ambien, in her system when she crashed her SUV into a tractor trailer according to a toxicology report.  A Kennedy family spokesman had previously claimed that the author and human rights activist was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred.

Kennedy was arrested on suspicions of DWI in the early hours of Friday, 13 July 2012.  Subsequent breathalyzer, blood, and urine tests at a local hospital revealed no drugs or alcohol in her system.  What kind of punishment she faces will depend largely on whether the Ambien is determined to have adversely affected her driving.  Witnesses told police Kennedy was driving erratically for miles before swerving into the tractor trailer on Interstate 84.  She reportedly left the scene of the accident before being found by police slumped in the driver’s seat of her white Lexus.

According to a police report, Kennedy’s speech was slurred when speaking to officers at the scene and told them she may have accidentally taken a sleeping pill earlier in the day.  At a July 17 court hearing in North Castle, New York, Kennedy pleaded not guilty to charges of driving while impaired (DWI), stated that the court tests at a local hospital revealed no traces of drugs in her system and that her doctor believed she may have suffered a seizure.

In a news conference held the following day, Kennedy stated her belief that a partial seizure was the cause of her erratic driving, possibly due to a previous injury to her right brain.  Kennedy said she underwent a battery of neurological tests at Mount Sinai Hospital to better understand her medical condition.  She discounted the possibility that medication had played any role in the accident, while acknowledging, “Moments after the accident occurred, I told police that it was possible that I may have inadvertently taken a sleep aid instead of my daily thyroid medication.”

In a statement released after the release of the toxicology results, Kennedy said, “I am deeply sorry to all those I endangered that day, and am enormously grateful for the support I have received over the past two weeks.”

Kennedy’s cousin, Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, crashed his car into a Capitol Hill barrier 2006 while under the influence of Ambien and Phenergan, and anti-nausea medication.  He later admitted to having long-standing issues with drug and alcohol dependency, as well as battles with mental illness.  Patrick Kennedy is the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.

This incident is the latest black mark on a family political dynasty, whose reputation as a tragedy-magnet dates back to 1944, when Joe Kennedy, Jr., the eldest son of clan patriarch Joe Kennedy and his wife Rose, was killed in action during a World War II combat mission.  While this and other early events can be considered tragic and circumstantial, most recent headline-grabbing “tragedies” involving Kennedy family members can be chalked up to arrogance, irresponsibility, entitlement, and—in some cases—immoral and deviant behavior.

In the case of Kerry Kennedy, however, it does appear that her actions may have, indeed, been due to minor negligence, albeit negligence that could have cost innocent men, women, and children their lives.  That she mistakenly took a sleep aid instead of another kind of medication she used on a daily basis is not wholly beyond the realm of possibility.  Knowingly taking Ambien and operating a motor vehicle is negligence on a much greater scale.  Given her track record (she has no previous offenses), and the cooperation with authorities she has exhibited thus far—not to mention the humility, quite unlike cousin Patrick in lieu of his numerous indiscretions—she is probably due the benefit of the doubt on this one.


  1. Allen, Jonathan.  “Sleeping aid in Kerry Kennedy’s blood after crash: report.”  Chicago Tribune.  Reuters.  25 July 2012.  Web.  27 July 2012.
  2. Donaldson James, Susan.  “Kerry Kennedy and Ambien: A Common Med Mix (Up), Say Experts.”  ABC News.  26 July 2012.  Web.  27 July 2012.

“Kennedy’s Crash Highlights Dangers of Ambien.”  ABC News.  05 May 2006.  Web.  27 July 2012.


By Greg L.

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Filed under: Celebrity News · Tags: 13 July 2012, accident, Addiction, alcohol, Alcohol and Drugs, ambien, Andrew Cuomo, arrested, breathalyzer, car accident, crashing, driving under influence, driving while intoxicating, drugs or alcohol, DUI, DWI, Ethel Kennedy, field sobriety test, intoxicated, Kennedy clan, Kennedy curse, Kennedy dynasty, Kennedys, Kerry Kennedy, mental health, negligence, New York, North Castle, NY, NYC, offenses, Robert Kennedy, sleeping aid, sleeping pills, slurred, slurred speech, SUV, tragic, Zolpidem

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