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Kennedy Pleads Guilty to Lesser Drunk Driving Charge

Mary Richardson Kennedy pleads guilty to a violation count of driving while ability impaired following her May 15 arrest for misdemeanor DWI.

Mary Richardson Kennedy was smiling when she entered Bedford town court Thursday night and perhaps for good reason.

Kennedy, the wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., agreed to a reduced charge of a driving while ability impaired as part of a plea bargain for her  DWI case.

Kennedy was arrested for misdemeanor driving while intoxicated on May 15 after a town police officer found her intoxicated a short distance from her home, near the St. Patrick's School driveway. Kennedy was taken into police custody after she failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood alcohol content of .11 on her breathalyzer test. A person is charged with DWI if they have a blood alcohol content .08 or higher in New York State.

"I think she's pleased to get closure," said Kerry Lawrence, the attorney representing Kennedy during the proceeding.

Kennedy declined to comment.

Kennedy was required to pay a fine of $500 with a $260 town surcharge and 90-day suspension of her license. In addition, she is required to file quarterly reports from her therapists, attend a one-time Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim's impact panel and a Department of Motor Vehicle mandated drunk driving program.

Lawrence said Kennedy was given a 20-day stay of her license suspension to allow his client time to file for a conditional license from the DMV.  A conditional license would allow Kennedy to drive during the suspension, but under a strict set of limits.

Town Justice Kevin Quaranta also warned Kennedy that even though her case was being given a one-year conditional discharge, he reserved the right to bring her case back to court if she didn't follow through on any of the court's mandates.

Kennedy would have faced a maximum fine of $1,000 and minimum license revocation of six months if she was convicted of misdemeanor DWI. The charge can also lead to a maximum jail sentence of one year.

During the proceedings, Quaranta said he was impressed by the number of letters he received in support of Kennedy. People who sent letters in support of Kennedy included her mother-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, and her sister-in-law Kerry Kennedy.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is reportedly filing for divorce, was asked to submit a letter of support on behalf of his wife, according Lawrence.

Quaranta reminded Kennedy she lived in a fishbowl and warned her against putting herself in a similar position.

"That would be a big disappointment and I don't think that you want to go through that again -- I hope we don't see you back here again," Quaranta said.

Francis T McVetty August 04, 2010 at 01:39 PM
We will see if this reduction in the charge will work . This is a big problem in America and across the world. Different countries handle it differently. In my opinion, the codling of drunk drivers should be stopped! Only the certainty of punishment will deter drunk driving. When people are given "conditional" licenses to drive ,that does NOT send the message that drunk driving will not be tolerated. I do feel sorry for those people that are arrested for drunk driving but I feel more for those who are killed by these drunk drivers. Between drunk drivers and drivers who are texting and talking on the cell phone while driving, the "road" is more dangerous than ever.

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