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Kerry Kennedy charged with DUI in collision, denies impairment

Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was charged for drug-impaired driving. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

Kerry Kennedy, a human rights activist and the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was arrested and charged with driving while impaired by drugs Friday morning after the car she was driving collided with a tractor-trailer on a freeway in the town of North Castle, N.Y., state police confirmed Saturday.

A spokesman for Kennedy denied that tests for impairment were positive.

"Kerry Kennedy voluntarily took breathalyzer, blood and urine tests — all of which showed no drugs or alcohol whatsoever in her system," said Ken Sunshine. "The charges were filed before the test results were available."

According to the police statement, 911 calls reported the car moving erratically on the freeway before hitting the tractor-trailer. The collision caused a flat tire and Kennedy exited the freeway, it said. Kennedy, 52, was found seated at the wheel of the disabled vehicle by North Castle Police.

State police arrived and found Kennedy to be impaired by drugs, it said.

Kennedy, who lives in Bedford, N.Y., was not injured, The New York Times reported, citing an unnamed person close to her.

A Forbes report speculated that the incident was a case of  "sleep driving" — a rare side effect of the sleep aid Ambien that causes users to get out of bed and drive while still asleep with no memory of their actions — but did not quote any sources close to Kennedy who could corroborate the speculation.

The New York Daily News reported that Kennedy told police she had taken Ambien, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, who also said she was taken to Northern Westchester Hospital where she consented to a blood test, the results of which are expected in about a week.

Kennedy, born Mary Kerry Kennedy, is the seventh of eleven children born to Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. She is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington, D.C.

Her accident comes just a week after the body of another member of the Kennedy clan, the late Mary Richardson Kennedy, was exhumed and reburied 700 feet away.

Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was a close friend of Kerry Kennedy's since childhood. After she died, Kerry Kennedy wrote a tribute about her describing her as her "best friend," writing in The Huffington Post on May 22, "Mary was brilliant, strikingly beautiful, radiant, luminous, spritiual, funny, fun."

Kerry Kennedy is due in North Castle Court on Tuesday, according to the Bedford-Katonah Patch news site.

NBC contributed to this report

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