Kerry Kennedy’s (daughter of the late Senator Robert Kennedy) recent acquittal in a drugged-driving trial highlights the dangers of taking sleeping medication when behind the wheel. The case stemmed from an incident in 2012, when she swerved into a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway and then drove off erratically.
During the trial, Kennedy stated she had mistakenly taken a sleeping pill instead of her thyroid medication that morning. Her lawyer presented pictures to show the similarities between the pills and the bottles. But the defense tried to argue that she had been careless not to double-check which medication she took.
Impact of Sleeping Pills When Operating a Motor Vehicle
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that manufacturers of Ambien and other sleep medications that contain the active ingredient zolpidem lower their recommended doses for women. That’s because a number of studies have shown the prescribed levels may be high enough that upon waking that it could be dangerous to engage in certain tasks — such as driving — because of impaired alertness.
Researchers haven’t been able to uncover why women experienced greater impairment the next day than men. But in general, sleeping pills can cause a variety of side effects, including drowsiness. It’s also been found that the risks increase when the individual gets less than the recommended amount of sleep (seven to eight hours). If you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, you can follow these seven tips to stay alert while driving.
New York Drugged Driving Laws and How It Could Impact an Accident Case
If someone’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired because of alcohol, any drug or a combination — that person can be charged with a DUI. New York’s implied consent laws requires motorists to submit to a chemical test (saliva, urine, blood or breath) when law enforcement determines there is probable cause.
If it’s believed that someone was driving while drugged and it caused serious or fatal injuries, the results of a chemical test could be used as evidence. It’s important to consult an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to learn if there is a valid case. Call 800-550-0000 for more information or sign up for our RSS feed on our website to get timely updates on news pieces like this one.