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Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
November 12, 1995
Author: Sandra Gonzales, San Jose Mercury News
After a five-month investigation to determine whether the anti- depressant Prozac or any other drug impaired Carol Kent’s driving, all she got was a $100 speeding ticket.
Kent caught the eye of California Highway Patrol officers in June when they said she sped past them on Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose and drifted into another lane.
Officers said her speech was slow and slurred and that she appeared disoriented and unsteady. She also failed a field sobriety test. But chemical tests later showed that the Prozac, the most popular anti-depressant in the world, was the only drug Kent had in her system.
So Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Tony Piazza last week dropped a misdemeanor charge of driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs he had filed against Kent. Instead, Kent reluctantly pleaded guilty to speeding.
Although Kent admitted in an interview that she had been speeding, she is furious and thinks the entire case should have been dropped. She said the outcome does not make up for the night she spent in jail.
“I’ve lost days from work because of the stress,” Kent said. She had no criminal history and until this case had a clean driving record. Kent, a 42-year-old hairstylist and waitress, must also pay $170 in court fees. She had been taking the drug for four years.
“It should have been a speeding ticket from the start,” said her attorney, Dyana Lechuga. “It’s unfortunate that she’s wasted time and money when the ultimate result could have been done that night.”
Though Kent’s urine sample initially tested negative for PCP, opiates, methamphetamine and cocaine and her blood-alcohol level was much lower than the legal limit, further tests were performed to determine whether Prozac combined with another drug might have affected her driving.
Record Number: 9502100371
Copyright (c) 1995 Daily News of Los Angeles