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Kennedy said she accidentally took sleeping pill before crash

Kerry Kennedy testified that she has no memory of the car accident that led to her driving-while-impaired arrest.


Kerry Kennedy testified that she has no memory of the car accident that led to her driving-while-impaired arrest.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Kerry Kennedy testified at her drugged-driving trial Wednesday that she never sensed she was becoming impaired after accidentally taking a sleeping pill and has no memory of swerving into a tractor-trailer on a suburban New York highway.

‘‘If I realized I was impaired I would have pulled over,’’ said Kennedy, ex-wife of Governor Andrew Cuomo and daughter of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy.

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She was arrested in July 2012 after her car hit the truck near her home outside New York City. She drove to the next exit, where she was found slumped over the steering wheel and failed sobriety tests.

The prosecution argues that even if she took the sleeping pill accidentally, Kennedy violated the law by failing to pull over when it took effect.

Taking the stand on the third day of her trial in White Plains, Kennedy said she remembers the first part of her drive that day but has no memory of the interval between when she got on the highway and when she stopped at the exit. She said she was confused when a man knocked on the window of her Lexus.

‘‘He said, ‘Have you been in an accident?’ ’’ Kennedy said. ‘‘And I said, ‘No,’ because as far as I was concerned I hadn’t been in an accident.’’

Kennedy, 54, testified earlier Wednesday that she accidentally took a sleeping pill that morning.

‘‘I thought I was taking Synthroid, my thyroid medication,’’ she said. But because blood tests revealed a small amount of the sleeping drug zolpidem, ‘‘I must have taken the sleeping medication by mistake.’’

Kennedy said she has taken the thyroid medication every day since 1991 and takes the sleeping pills to adjust to time changes when she travels. She said the sleeping pills were on a counter, near the thyroid pills, on the morning of the accident because she was planning a trip.

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