Public figure uses DUI case for criminal justice message

An out-of-state DUI case is of importance in Illinois because of a core message that its defendant is sharing. Kerry Kennedy might be known for her family connections, but it is her arrest for suspicion of drugged driving last year that has the public listening to her.

Kennedy works as a civil rights activist, but her life and work were interrupted over the last year since she was charged with DUI. Her case is over. The jury found her not guilty, saving her from a possible year in jail. She wishes other defendants with cases like hers could be so fortunate.

The fortune Kennedy refers to is the option to aggressively fight a false misdemeanor DUI charge. She knows that she is fortunate to have financial wealth that eased the financial stress of moving forward with a criminal trial to fight her charge.

Too many others who don't have the same kind of financial wealth, she fears, settle for plea deals even if they are not guilty of the misdemeanor charges before them. Prosecutors might try to make it feel as though a misdemeanor DUI won't cause much damage, but damage is relative, and defendants deserve equal opportunity to prove their innocence.

In Illinois, even a first DUI conviction can severely impact a person's life. A suspended driver's license is just one example of how a conviction hurts. The stigma of a drunk driving offense alone is also enough for someone to want to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Source: Today, "Kerry Kennedy: I won case because 'I was innocent' and 'had competent counsel'," Eun Kyung Kim, March 3, 2014

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