Did another Kennedy get a road pass?

Patrick blames wreck on prescription drug, bar hostess says congressman was drinking

Has another Kennedy received special treatment by police after another suspicious car wreck?

That's the question on everyone's lips in the nation's capital today following a report that Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., wrecked his car while admittedly under the influence of a prescription drug.

As Kennedy tells the story, "I never asked for any preferential treatment." Asked whether he received it, he said "that's up for the police to decide."

He also says he had taken a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness, but consumed no alcohol, before crashing his car near the Capitol.

However, a hostess at a popular Capitol Hill bar, the Hawk 'n' Dove, told the Boston Herald she saw Kennedy drinking in the hours before the crash.

"He was drinking a little bit," said the woman, who would not give her name.

Late last night as he left his office, Kennedy refused to say whether he had been to the Hawk 'n' Dove the night before, the paper reported.

A Herald reporter who visited bars where Kennedy is known to socialize said a bartender at the Tune Inn, next to the Hawk 'n' Dove, also said Kennedy was spotted Wednesday in the Hawk 'n' Dove, which describes itself as "Washington, D.C.'s oldest Irish bar."

The bar's manager, Edgar Gutierrez, said Kennedy is a regular, according to the Boston paper. Gutierrez said he was working Wednesday night but did not see the congressman.

Kennedy was cited for three traffic violations, according to a report by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Kennedy spokeswoman Robin Costello acknowledged the police report, but said "we have no knowledge of any citations."

In a statement explaining his actions, Kennedy said the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Kennedy said that after working Wednesday evening he went home and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another drug that he sometimes takes to fall asleep.

In his statement, Kennedy said he was apparently disoriented from the drugs when he got up a little before 3 a.m. Thursday and drove to the Capitol thinking he needed to be present for a vote.

"Following the last series of votes on Wednesday evening, I returned to my home on Capitol Hill and took the prescribed amount of Phenergan and Ambien," Kennedy said. "Some time around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote. Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication."

According the U.S. Constitution, congressmen have special protections on their way to and from a vote. Article 1, Section 6 says senators and representatives "shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same."

"At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol," said Kennedy, going on to address questions about why he was not asked to take a sobriety test. "At the time of the accident, I was instructed to park my car and was driven home by the United States Capitol Police. At no time did I ask for any special consideration, I simply complied with what the officers asked me to do."

"I have the utmost respect for the United States Capitol Police and the job they do to keep Members of Congress and the Capitol Complex safe," he continued. "I have contacted the Chief of Capitol Police and offered to meet with police representatives at their earliest convenience as I intend to cooperate fully with any investigation they choose to undertake."

Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, who was not on the scene, said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a barrier on Capitol Hill.

"The officers on the scene, it is my understanding, smelled alcohol. And based on his demeanor and their experience, believed him to be intoxicated," Cannon told CBS News.

Cannon also says officers at the scene were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home.

A letter written by Capitol Police officer Greg Baird to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Baird wrote McGaffin that two sergeants who responded to the accident conferred with the watch commander and were ordered to leave the scene.

He said that after the officers left, Capitol Police officials gave Kennedy a ride home.

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