Kerry Kennedy is on trial in a New York courtroom . The charge is driving under the influence of a generic form of Ambien . Most folks don't realize they can be charged with driving under the influence of a prescribed medication. Ms. Kennedy's defense is that she was rushing off to the gym and took a sleeping pill by mistake . After she failed the field sobriety tests , she agreed to a blood test where Zolpidem was found . Zolpidem is a generic form of the sedative Ambien . According to her lawyer's opening statement , it was a simple mistake.
In Tennessee , mistake of fact is a defense . However , I don't think it would apply in Ms. Kennedy's case .Mistake of fact is a defense if it negates a mental element. Under Tennessee DUI law, there is no required mental element . Ms. Kennedy may have a better defense under Tennessee law as to involuntary intoxication . By this I mean , she did not realize the effects of the medication when she took the pill.
There would be one roadblock in her DUI defense in Tennessee. A judge reads the jury the laws they must use in deciding the case commonly referred as a jury charge . In Tennessee , the judge would instruct the jury it is not a defense to being driving a car under the influence of a prescription drug.
Reading her lawyer's comments in a article on the trial , it looks like his real defense is she is such a good person that she would never do this type of thing. It might work if your name is Kennedy .